When it comes to lunch in RTP, you’ve got a handful of good, basic choices. Pizza, Southern and more, most of the choices are pretty casual and bare-bones. But sometimes I’m looking for something just a bit fancier which leaves me in a tough spot. One restaurant that ups their lunch game a bit is Serena Sicilian RTP off of S. Miami Boulevard. It’s a quirky eatery with plenty of space inside and a large outdoor patio. And if you’re looking for some classic Italian-American, a good choice for many reasons…
Serena Sicilian sits in a busy little plaza with several popular RTP eateries including one of my all-time faves, Randy’s Pizza RTP! So to get me to skip out on that great NY thin-slice pizza takes a lot but I’ve managed to eat at Serena Sicilian several times. Inside, the space is clean and modern with lots of interesting touches. Pendant lamps overhead, cafe seating, you’ll find a scooter in one corner of the restaurant and some classic 80’s pop streaming from the speakers overhead. It all feels a bit familiar to this ex-New Englander, it feels like a casual Italian joint you’d often find up north.
I’ve sat on the patio and inside which works with their table service. Staff is dressed in all black and seem pretty experienced. Digging into Serena’s lunch menu you’ll find an array of soups, salads, small plates, sandwiches and entrees to choose from. You’ll notice some interesting items like Moorish meatballs, chicken spiedie skewers, 1/4 kilo of fries, and grilled octopus. But given Sicily’s location in the Mediterranean sea, it makes sense to me! But I confess to going with Italian-American basics that make my stomach happy. The arancini at Serena RTP are not plural, they offer one VERY large arancini sitting in marinara sauce and stuffed with ground beef, peas and cheese. A very tasty version that needs to be shared since one person shouldn’t be diving in on that!
The chicken spiedies are a bit of a specialty, typically from upper state NY, it’s usually pork or chicken grilled after being marinated in a vinegar, mint and herb sauce. Serena does a great job here with perfectly tender chicken accented by a bit of char and served up with a tangy herb aioli. Definitely try these out if you visit!
For my mains I’ve done a chicken parmigiana over rotini covered with a melty oven-baked cheese, which was delicious. And I’ve dabbled in several sandwiches here which are all served on wonderful, light rolls and delicious sea-salt flecked fries. The overall food quality here at Serena RTP is above average and at pretty reasonable prices for what you get at lunch. So thank you Serena Sicilian for upping the lunch game here in RTP. While you may not be perfect, you’re pretty darn good and you leave me happy when I’m in the mood for Italian-American eats!
5311 S Miami Blvd
Durham, NC 27703