By Laura St. Claire
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, May 10, 2001
How do you know -- before you've even walked in the front door of Topolino -- that the portions are going to be generous? Just look at the departing patrons, nearly every one carrying a plastic foam container or pizza box filled, presumably, with leftovers. With a menu that ranges from antipasto salads to veal Parmesan to pasta dishes to blackened mahi-mahi to pizza, Topolino certainly has something for everyone. Located on Branch Avenue in Camp Springs, the newly renovated restaurant often has a packed house.
The sizable dining room is filled with booths and tables covered in checked tablecloths. The wait staff is friendly and experienced, going out of their way to ensure a pleasant dining experience. A quick glance at the clientele tells you that the restaurant is pleasing everyone from young couples to families with toddlers to senior citizens.
Although my hunch about Topolino's large portions proved to be correct, the appetizer selection was too tempting to pass up. We began with the clams casino (six fresh clams topped with butter, bacon and mozzarella cheese and lightly broiled) and the calamari.
From the specialties I chose Zuppa Di Pesce, a combination of fresh clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops served on your choice of pasta (I selected angel hair) with either red or white clam sauce (I went with the red).
The entrees include soft bread loaded with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and herbs and lightly broiled and a garden salad.
My Italian grandmother selected a dish her mother used to make, the manicotti, and she was very pleased with Topolino's version. The fresh rolled pasta was overstuffed with ricotta and spinach and then baked with provolone and marinara sauce. My boyfriend selected the tortellini alla crema. Ringlets of pasta are filled with veal and served with cream, butter and Parmesan cheese sauce.
If you're having trouble choosing just one of the 40 entree options at Topolino, you may want to sample from the all-you-can-eat buffet. For $14.99, on the day we visited, we feasted on soup (ours was a thick, tomato-based Italian vegetable), marinated tomatoes, marinated cucumbers, soft bread, two different types of pasta that could be combined with three different sauces (tomato- or cream-based), breaded chicken, meatballs and marinated mussels.
The buffet also included Topolino's excellent pizza, either thin- or thick-crust versions, in varying combinations, including the Super Special (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, beef, sausage, anchovies and jalapeno chili peppers).
Of course we knew we would be carrying home our own leftovers, but we still had to try the cannoli, which was creamy and delicious.
Topolino, 6320 Old Branch Ave., Camp Springs, Md.; call 301-449-6160). Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Entrees $9.99-$28.99. Wheelchair accessible. Restaurant is nonsmoking.