By Meredith Munk Special to The Herald
I know where Lake Stevens families go on Sunday evenings for an early dinner.
By 5 p.m. one recent Sunday, a lot of them could be found filling nearly all the tables at Contos’, right off Highway 9 in Frontier Village.
The restaurant was bustling and the hostess was answering calls for take-out orders.
In the modest building, which anchors a corner of Frontier Village, the homey restaurant seems to be a favorite of locals. The good-sized menu has enough choices to satisfy appetites of any age, as we saw young and old enjoying pizza, pastas and hot sandwiches.
More booths than tables give it a cozy feel and, with a background of Frank Sinatra music and without big screen TVs, families can actually enjoy a meal together and have a conversation.
Contos’ appetizer list includes deep-fried zucchini, mozzarella and ravioli, cheese bread and a warm artichoke spinach dip ($4.99 to $7.99).
The spinach artichoke dip ($7.99) will surprise you. It is more a cheese dip with spinach and artichokes, served with warm pita triangles. Be warned: It is hard to resist and hard to stop eating once you start.
The pizza dough, made daily, is lightly brushed with a flavorful tomato sauce and the topping are almost endless. Thirty-one pizza choices plus three Contos’ specials make picking one a task. Choose your own toppings or make a change from the 31 to personalize it.
Vegetarians will be pleased with the list of veggie toppings and options.
The pizzas range from the smallest cheese-only pizza ($9.95) to the Number 30, a large with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and pineapple ($23.95).
A small group of us ordered a small Number 30, though we substituted sausage for pepperoni ($16.95.) The thick crust was delicious and the large thick slices of tomato were added after the pizza came out of the oven. I liked that.
I had a dinner salad, which was simple, with cold, fresh iceberg lettuce, a couple of croutons and a thick layer of shredded cheese on top. I wasn’t crazy about the amount of cheese, but the tangy, garlicky Caesar dressing made up for it.
My friend enjoyed the large-portion Caesar with her meal.
If you ask for oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, you are delivered full bottles of oil and vinegar with pouring spouts, family style.
The veal parmigiana ($13.79 including salad and garlic bread, add $2.99 for a Caesar) was served piping hot over spaghetti and covered with a meat sauce. A thick layer of mozzarella, brown and bubbly from the hot oven covered the dish.
Blush Penne ($12.99 with salad and garlic bread) was penne pasta and a meat sauce, a touch of cream, sliced sausage and grated parmesan. Both dishes were rich with generous portions, enough to share or take home leftovers.
Besides the many pasta choices there are hot, oven-baked sandwiches with meat varieties including Canadian bacon, ham, pepperoni, turkey, pastrami and meatball, ($9.29-$9.49). They come dressed with their own condiments and cheese on a 12-inch french roll.
On the lighter side, a number of salad choices from Greek to Chef round out the menu.
Several Italian desserts and baklava make for a sweet finish if you have room. Besides a full bar, wine and beer, their nonalcoholic beverages include Italian sodas and three kinds of iced tea.
Contos’ has something for everyone in a warm, family friendly setting.
Contos’ Pizza, Pasta and Spirits
Frontier Village, Lake Stevens, 425-334-5034; www.contospizza.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.
Specialty: Pizza and Pasta.
Vegetarian options: Yes.