Prior to going to Mamma Onesti’s, I did my usual Google search and discovered their website: www.mammaonestis.com. When I read that the owners’ last names were “Scarpino’ and “Nicoletti’, I was encouraged!! Additionally I read that their menu consisted of homemade items from 3 generations of Family Recipes! I made a mental note to re-watch the Godfather then headed out the door to get my “Italian” Fix for the day! When you first enter Mamma Onesti’s it is very warm and inviting with a bar, high-tops, booths and individual tables. There are even TV screens should the need to catch up on your favorite team arise! My companions and I opted to be seated toward the back of the restaurant with a view of their air-conditioned outdoor space.
As we all pondered the menu while sipping on our drinks, the server placed a basket of “Garlic Knots” on the table!! One bite and I was hooked!! I could have happily just eaten the entire basket by myself and been perfectly content! BUT……..enough of that (that’s what to-go boxes are for), on to the main event!
My ‘main event’ selection was their “Chicken Franchese” ($15.95). Described as dipped in an egg wash then sautéed in lemon butter w/capers, this entrée was the most incredibly ‘delicate’ version I have ever eaten! The cooking technique was masterful almost resulting in a ‘French Toast’ effect! So often, this dish is ‘breaded’ which can detract from the other well-balanced elements of butter & lemon! The chicken had been ‘pounded’ to just the desired thickness resulting in a very tender bite!
Well, no review of an Italian Restaurant would be complete without including “Spaghetti & Meat Sauce” ($12.95). Gratefully (and with no coercion required), one of my dining companions made this selection. Before I even approached with my fork, I noticed that this entrée was in no way ‘delicate’!! Exhibiting a robust & rich color, I could see with my own eyes that ‘Mamma Onesti’ was very ‘generous’ with their meat sauce!! I have to admit, that I am sometimes disappointed when I taste anybody else’s meat sauce!! I have my own ‘family recipe’ and I tend to be over critical. When I tasted this, I was NOT disappointed! The menu indicated that it was prepared with just a ‘touch of cream’ and I quickly jotted down in my notes to amend my OWN recipe when I got home!
While dining we had a visit from one of the owners, Richard Nicoletti!! After inquiring if we were enjoying our meal, he noticed that there was no ‘parmesan’ on the table!!! Well you’d think he was going to be scolded by “Mamma” herself as he quickly apologized and personally delivered parmesan to our table! You’ve just got to LOVE Italian hospitality!
My other dining companion elected to order one of the “Daily Specials”: “Pastrami Reuben” grilled on rye bread. Yes, I KNOW this is an Italian restaurant, but when the Reuben first arrived, I had a flashback of sitting in the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan! “Piled High” is an apt description of this sandwich. The Pastrami, another product of 3 generations of family recipes, had been slow roasted and seasoned right there on the premises and was DELICIOUS!!!
Now completely satisfied and already thinking about the “Garlic Knot” I was going to take home with me, I wasn’t sure about ordering dessert! However, after being informed that Onesti’s had whipped up some special ‘dolce’ concoctions that were NOT on the menu, my mind opened up to the possibility. Putting my confidence in their selection, a parfait glass was set before me! The first thing I noticed were the fresh ‘Bing Cherries’! This ‘dolce’ was named “Coppa Spagnola” and reminded me of a very light, chilled ‘Tortoni’ with a hint of Amaretto. Creamy but light, I will let Mamma Onesti make ALL my future dessert selections!
Speaking of ‘future’, I definitely plan to return to Mamma Onesti’s! In addition to their extensive menu, they also have entertainment and Live Music on the Menu!! If you are a long-time resident of Sarasota, you will recognize the name “Sal Garcia” of OMNI Fame! Be sure to check their Website and Facebook page to read about these events as they occur! Mamma Onesti’s is located at 6152 14th Street W., Bradenton, FL. Phone #: 941-756-8100.
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