Carol Sandberg of LeClaire, Iowa, hadn't been to Trattoria Tiramisu for a couple of years, but the $7.95 lunch buffet has brought her back, and she's even begun recruiting new customers.
The buffet features several entrees, appetizers and salads to choose from, and a beverage is included in the lunch price.
"All the food is delicious," said Sandberg, who was eating her favorite dish, chicken marsala, during a recent lunch. "It has nice, huge pieces of chicken, mushrooms and the sauce is delicious. It's a rich, nice savory sauce. It's very good."
Trattoria Tiramisu keeps prices low by using simple ingredients and by closing daily from 2 to 5 p.m. Those three hours are traditionally slow for restaurants, so not having to staff them helps keep the overhead low.
"That's our focus. You try to keep it reasonable because, the pasta dishes, you're not trying to use expensive ingredients," said Gil Cepada, Trattoria Tiramisu's manager. "You try to keep it simple so we can keep the prices down. We still use pretty good pasta."
It's also important for the restaurant to keep prices reasonable because "trattoria" means family-owned or family-run restaurant, he said. They want to make sure families can afford to visit the restaurant. Everything on the lunch menu is less than $8, and some pasta dishes on the dinner menu are less than $9. Cepada said their seafood and pasta dishes are the most popular.
The price and the food has Laura Oldfather convinced she should come back. She visited the restaurant for the first time in more than five years on Sandberg's recommendation.
"I just love the pasta and bread," Oldfather said. "I think this is good-quality food, good service and the price is good."