Antone's Italian Grille
 Youngstown, Ohio        Date of Visit  02/05/11

Okay…I know, I know…another Italian restaurant in Y-town. Surely we must be running out of options, but realistically we haven’t scratched the surface. I hadn’t been to Antone’s for years, the best I can remember. The first thing that leapt to mind when I thought of the place was the monkey salad, which we will get to in a bit. One of two locations the Antone’s on Belmont sits in the parking lot of the Liberty Walmart. What a boon to a restaurant…to have a Wallyworld built two hundred yards from you, although the Liberty walmart is the emptiest variety I have ever been in. Tonight Antone’s wasn’t lacking any business and we got the last table in the back. Antone’s has a “homey” feeling decorated like someone was doing their own kitchen…maybe in a home where maintenance is not priority number one. Our server was just fine, never really caught our attention for reasons neither good nor bad.



Again with the Bread

The menu is not overly rangy much like the décor. We ordered two small cavatelli and a confabulation called the kitchen sink. All of us opted for the Antone’s monkey salad for the precursor. The monkey salad is a green lettuce salad with a super-sharp vinaigrette, cheese and salami, pretty standard. What makes it different from most Italian salads is the tuna fish. If you have ever had veal with a tonnato sauce, the salad gets the same umami, dusky, undertones from the tuna. Balanced against the bright vinaigrette and the fatty seasoning of the salami, it explains why the first thing I thought of at Antone’s was the salad. The salads were delivered with bread, the first basket had obviously been sitting for a bit and was quite like a grill brick in texture. When asked for a replacement, the second basket was fresh with a great crust and cushiony interior.

We ordered fried zucchini with marinara sauce. Long thin boards of zucchini were battered and dipped til GBD (Golden, Brown and Delicious). They were fine. The problem was the marinara. Little more than crushed tomatoes, the sauce had little to offer the dish and was more of a detraction. What worried me most was that we had all ordered mains with red gravy and if this was going to be the sauce on those…well, there is fast food in front of the Walmart too.

Ooooooo  Ooooo  Oooo

The bowl in the back was scary

Homemade Cavatelli

We ordered a couple of homemade cavatelli and something called the kitchen sink. The cavatelli were a little overdone to my taste. I expect them to be softer being homemade but I would still expect there to be a little tooth left. The sauce was a dramatic improvement over the appetizer offering. Still very tomatoey, this version had a splash of herbage to really develop something very nice. Yeaaahhh! I ordered the kitchen sink which consists of fried cheese topped with cavatelli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, hot sausage, a meatball and spaghetti sauce. Oh, friends…I have been eating so healthy I was really looking forward to a pasta and meat fueled departure and this bowl of crazy is it. The server returned to inform us they had run out of sausage (Boo!) but they would add a couple of meatballs instead. All of the veggies were lightly sautéed and still held a hint of crunch, very nice. The sauce and cavs were the same as the other plates and the fried cheese, hey, its fried cheese. The meatballs at Antone’s are much more dense than I typically expect, but they are really nice. Great flavor and a satisfying thud when they hit the bottom of your gullet, they are a fitting combination for the sauce. I barely got through half of it, but it was worth it! Not everything was great during our visit, but Antone’s does offer another satisfying option for Italian in Youngstown. Whodda thunk my favorite thing in an Italian restaurant would be a salad?

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