Big changes create giant challenges. I always worry about expansion in the restaurant business. It tends to dampen the quality provided by the original…
After our wine tasting/social group finished attending the Christmas Show at the Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge, we headed for Willie’s Restaurant (“Due” is Italian for Two), about 10 minutes away in Sevierville. I’d made reservations for the group at Willie’s and I was curious to see if the original restaurant’s food standards had been maintained…
This photo was taken directly from Willie’s website. It was dark when we arrived… The restaurant is based in a strip mall…as was the first Willie’s… In this case, it sits in front of a Food City so there is plenty of traffic going by the front of the restaurant.
The interior of the Willie’s Restaurant in Sevierville is very warm and welcoming…much different than the original semi-bare bones restaurant that Willie had opened in Seymour. This location has more subdued lighting softened further by the wood and brick interior walls and the big wooden bar. (Despite the bar, no liquor was being offered)
If you looked at my blog from the Smoky Mountain Opry, this is a familiar looking group. Our waitress took this photo of our Christmas themed group… Left side: Jenny, Charlie, Irv, Joel, Bev and Larry. Right side: Fred, Karen, Martha, Holly, Laurie and me…
Holly and Joel had suggested a “white elephant” gift exchange…holding the value of each gift at $10.00. We drew numbers and choose our gifts in the order drawn… Items exchanged ranged from a credit card wallet/organizer to a bottle of wine and a coffee press.
Then we got down to the serious part of the day's events…The Food! As usual, I ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavlo…extra spicy. ($8.99) This new iteration of Willie’s did not disappoint me! The sauce was extra rich and spicy plus the shrimp and penne pasta were cooked perfectly. Another excellent meal at Willie’s...
FYI… All dinners come with Garlic Bread Knots and a side dinner salad.
This is Willie’s own “Not Your Mama’s” Lasagna. ($8.99) This is Willie’s own recipe with layers of pasta, meat sauce, ricotta cheese, parmesan and mozzarella. It too passed the taste test…surviving the passage from the original Willie’s to Willie’s second location.
Here we have the Shrimp Alfredo… ($8.99) While I’m not sure who ordered this entrée, 11 out of 12 people in our group gave thumbs up for their food experience at Willie’s new restaurant in Sevierville!
This is Willie’s Eggplant Parmesan served over fettuccini noodles. ($7.99) Larry…aka Big Dude…ordered this entrée. He said that it was very good. Between his entrée and the side he ordered, (see below), there was so much food that Larry ended up taking part of it home.
Larry also ordered this side of meatballs. ($2.99) Since Larry shared a meatball with me I can corroborate his evaluation of this side dish…the meatballs were excellent! Even his wife Bev, who is quite a chef in her own right, acknowledged that these were very good meatballs.
I expect to see the remaining meatball paired up with an egg for breakfast in one of Larry’s upcoming blogs at http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/.
This was Laurie’s Maine Lobster Ravioli…her favorite dish at Willie’s. ($10.99) Three other members of our little group joined her and ordered this for their entrée. Laurie reported that the Sevierville restaurant came through and delivered an entrée that matched the original.
The only negative was that at the Seymour location, this dish arrives with all of the ravioli completely immersed in Willie’s special cream sauce. The presentation above gave the diner a visual impression that the ravioli had just been dumped into a plateful of sauce…a little extra attention to presentation would of been appreciated.
Bev ordered this plate of Chicken Parmesan. ($7.99) Looks good to me…and Bev said that she enjoyed it… I personally like the looks of this entrée and with the addition of a few sprinkles of crushed red peppers, it would be exactly my idea of a great meal!
Irv ordered an item that we’d never ordered at Willie’s and that had never been ordered by anyone that we were dining with… This is a Stromboli, basically a baked sandwich…dough wrapped around pepperoni, ham, capicolla and mozzarella and sided with Willie’s rich tomato sauce. ($6.99) Irv reported that this was the best Stromboli he’d ever eaten! It sure looks good…
Jenny ordered the Shrimp Scampi…shrimp, broccoli and fettuccini noodles sautéed in a lemon-butter-wine sauce. ($8.99) This was our one ‘failure’ for the evening. Jenny said that her pasta entrée was just floating in liquid…and most of it was mixed with water…probably a run off from poorly drained pasta? She had to pour off the excess water into another dish in order to be able to eat her dinner… She assured me that she’d never order this entree again!
I’d ordered this entrée once myself at the Seymour restaurant and I’d liked it. Although my experience told me that this dish was ‘wet’, it wasn’t close to being this wet…and the version that I’d had was very good! Sorry that your dinner wasn’t too great Jenny!
Three desserts were ordered by our group and all of them made it around at least part of the table. Laurie managed to take photos of two of them…right after we all sang Happy Birthday to her! I’d ordered the Chocolate Eruption (top) for her birthday treat. The bottom photo is of the Turtle Cheesecake. The other cheesecake that we weren’t able to photograph was the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake… All desserts were $4.99 and they were very, very good!
The new Willie’s Restaurant in Sevierville is located at 737 Dolly Parton Parkway. Phone: 865-428-5002. The new location for the original Willie’s Restaurant is at 10321 Chapman Highway in Seymour Tennessee. Phone: 865-773-0170. The website for Willie’s is http://www.willies-restaurant.com/.
We will return to Willie’s in Sevierville in the not too distant future…although the Seymour location is significantly closer. We’ll want to sample one more dinner before I submit my thoughts to Trip Advisor. I’ll be ordering the Shrimp Scampi as the ultimate test…
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a combination Wine Group pre-Christmas/birthday dinner for Laurie!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave