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Friday, February 19, 2010

Nico's Italian Buffet

Yesterday for lunch, my wife and I decided to check out a new restaurant located at the West end of Hillsboro, Oregon.  For many months, we had watched the slow transformation from a former Mexican restaurant to the new Italian restaurant including a sign outside noting "coming soon".  We saw an announcement of the opening of the restaurant in the local paper and in the paper review the prices looked reasonable so we decided to try it.

When we entered the restaurant, we met the host at the door who seated us at a nice table along the windows.  Now the view is nothing to behold (the parking lot), but it was a very nice day out so it was great to see the sun shinning.  The interior was very clean and homey.  We met Nico the owner later as we were paying and he said that he did most of the interior work himself.

The food concept is a little different than most buffet restaurants; there are the standard entree, pizza, salad, and dessert, buffet tables, but Nico's also adds a cook to order menu.  The cook to order entree menu is titled "Be the Chef", where you circle specific choices on a small piece of paper from four areas: meat (eight options), I chose Italian Sausage, then you circle your type of sauce (eight options), mine was sweet spaghetti sauce.  Next, you choose three vegetables from about twelve selections, I selected mushrooms, artichoke hearts and roasted garlic, and lastly the type of pasta (six options) in which I chose shells.  The price includes all of the mentioned options.

With our entree order placed and the chef cooking our portion, we visited the pizza and salad bars.  On my first trip, there were three kinds of homemade pizza, on subsequent trips, more varieties were available.  I selected a piece of four-cheese pizza and another of sausage pizza.  Then I moved to the salad buffet and constructed a very nice salad.  I sampled several selections from the entree buffet; chicken parmesan, five-cheese lasagna, and roasted garlic red potatoes.

Back at our table, I started with my salad, which included lettuce, tomato, olives with Italian dressing and topped with some croutons.  Then I sampled the chicken parmesan, I found the pieces a little thin and just a little on the dry side, if I would have added some marinara sauce, they would have been fine.  The pizza was very good with a thin crust and is made on site.  I didn't check, but based on the crust and the taste, I think they may have a wood fired oven for cooking the pizza.  The sausage pizza had a wonderful taste of fennel.

Our made to order entrees arrived and they were both great.  I really like the red sauce, where my wife liked the creamy pesto with chicken, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts.  My wife also tried their soup which had a very nice tomato broth, but it was a little on the spicy side and might have contained a little too much black pepper.

The desert buffet was just a few items, but an ample portion of comfort desserts including blond brownies with chocolate chips, rice crispy treats, tapioca pudding, and fruit.  I did have some of the canned pears to quench the burning in my mouth after I tried a few spoonfuls of my wife's cup of soup.

Our server offered a suggestion for next time that she really likes to have the oil and garlic sauce when she orders her entree, so we will try that next time.

The price is $7.95 a person for lunch and $12.95 for dinner (4pm to 9pm).  I didn't ask, but I would think that there would be additional offerings on the dinner menu.

We will go back at some point.  We normally don't like to go to buffets, as we have a tendency to overeat to make sure we get our moneys worth, but the price is not excessive and the food is good, so we came away presently full, but not having to let out our pants!


  1. My husband and I were thinking of giving Nico's a try this evening. Thanks for "walking us" through it! The food sounds delicious too.

  2. I would have to say I agree with you about the wonderful selections. With the pasta dish I create I was able to try many different combinations and Nico himself, who was cooking, suggested a wonderfully rich combination I loved which focused on Andouille sausage. Thank you for spreading the word about a great little restaurant.

  3. Thanks for the review. Headed there tonight. :)

  4. I read you article and said to my wife it is time to give Nico's a try. So we did last week. The food was good, the service was friendly and the atmosphere was simple but nice. They did a nice job renovating the restaurant. Well, I will have to say besides there not being to many people in there the food was great. I will be back and encourage everyone to give it a try. I really do not want to see our only good Italian Restaurant turn back into another Mexican restaurant.

  5. ^ X2

    for Italian food its the best around. Spaghetti factory is horrible and that barn place on tv is too. 13 bucks for buffet is ok if your really hungry or can pile it down. but 8 bucks for lunch is worth it. pizza and lasagna was great. i'll go back.