First, to clear a misprint by menuism, Rilllo’s is ALL Italian and has no Mexican food on the menu.
When you walk in, you smell an enticing, old Italian kitchen, which is exactly what Rillo’s is. Recently, the restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the core menu is from the classic recipes of “Mama Rillo,” who brought her family’s recipes from Italy to start the business with her husband. When they retired, their children continued the tradition flawlessly. Although the restaurant has been sold to another couple, the recipes of great Italian cooking go on.
In a recent visit, two of us began the meal with perfect Tanqueray martinis, which has a distinctive taste Rillo’s never misses. We bypassed the many appetizers, knowing from experience that one appetizer could make a meal. Actually, you can order an appetizer for a meal if you wish.
I decided to go lo-cal, knowing I could take a portion home, I chose the house salad, with fresh greens and a wonderful vinegar and garlicy house dressing. For an entree, I enjoyed filet mignon that was exactly as ordered, rare, rare, rare, garnished with sauteed fall vegetables and a sprinkling of broth. A small side dish of whole wheat penne with marinara sauce completed my fare, with lots of leftovers to take home. I had no room for desert, but the tray was tempting, with samples of peanut butter-chocolate cake, creme brulee, two kinds of cheescake and many more desserts.
Others at the table had a home-made pizza, unsurpassed by anyone in Carlisle, the diner reported. The third person had a special of the day, fresh Mahi-Mahi Mediterranean, tenderly cooked fish combined with with carrots, snow peas, garlic, onions, and thin spaghetti. So we had three take-home boxes! Our Westies’ ratings were 5-Woofs!
Historically, the Washington Redskins used to hold summer camp in Carlisle, and Rillo’s, with it’s nourishing and fine food, was a team favoirite. Although the ’Skins no longer come to Carlisle, the restaurant remains a favorite place for many residents and people who travel to Carlisle from some distance.
Since I have obviously spent many happy occasions at Rillo’s I have to add service is always prompt, with many return trips by servers who also wait to see if a steak is cooked correctly as soon as served. The wine list is large and impressive, featuring mainly Italian wines, but many others as well. And for the person who wants a quiet drink at a bar, Rillo’s has exactly that. Not be be left out is a basket of garlic bread, refilled as certain diners become “addicted”.
By any standards, Rillo’s is rare. And Rillo’s is 5-Star.