West Cobb Magazine

Dine Out – Antonino’s Italian Grotto – Cartersville

Traditional Italian at It’s Best

By Mike Straus

November 29, 2009 – Recently, when I was having lunch with my friend Michelle, she recommended that we try a small Italian restaurant in Cartersville called Antonino’s. She said while different, that she feels Antonino’s can hold its own against any area Italian restaurant including Fusso’s, which most people feel is the best Italian restaurant outside the perimeter and defiantly in all of Cobb. With this being said, I was both excited and somewhat skeptical about it.  I decided let’s go for it. I had grown up in New York and had visited Italy many times,  so I felt I am a good judge of Italian food. If you don’t read one more word, I’ll tell you this is one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve eaten in anywhere in the Atlanta area and it is a great value. Well worth the drive to Cartersville.

On Thanksgiving eve, we headed up to Cartersville from Acworth, which is only about a 15 minute drive up 41. Antonino’s sits right by the tracks near the Booth Museum off of Main Street. We were created by this very friendly man, who latter I learned was Tony who is the owner, chef, bartender and one of the friendliest hosts you’ll meet. He is Italian through and through from Brooklyn, but has been in the Atlanta area for 30 years. Antonino’s has been open for 13 years and friends up there say it just keeps getting better each year, like a good bottle of wine. Tony’s warm personality and love of good food permiates throughout the entire restaurant.

Because, we weren’t going to have a big family Thanksgiving dinner, we decided that our splurge would be to go all out and have a traditional Italian dinner with all the courses. What better way to start off a traditional Italian meal is there than to begin with an Antipasto.  Before the salad came, they put down a basket of homemade garlic rolls. They are a wonderful way to start a meal, so delicious that it was easy to eat three or four before the antipasto salad arrived.

 

Antonino’s antipasto salad for 2 is a huge salad with the meats and cheeses in it vs. just some cold meats, cheese and pickled vegetables on a plate. Out came a large salad with chopped lettuce Genoa salami, Capitola, Prosciutto ham, Mozzarella, artichoke hearts, balsamic glazed onions all covered with a homemade red wine vinaigrette dressing. This salad is large enough to be a meal in itself. Not only does it look beautiful it taste fantastic. I know that it would be easy for two people to make a filling mean of the antipasto salad and the garlic rolls, but that wasn’t our plan for our first visit to Antonino’s. We wanted to go all out and have the type of family style Italian meal that I remembered from growing up in New York City. 

 

If we had been smart, we would have gone from the Antipasto right to our entree, but we decided to split the Mussels Bianca. This worked out well for splitting because the portion wasn’t too big. The mussels are sautéed in a garlic butter white wine sauce with just a touch of cream.  The mussels were good but it was the sauce that was to die for. We even had to ask for another basket of their garlic rolls to soak up every drop of this to die for white sauce. 

 If you are a mussel’s lover, I would recommend asking them for a larger size portion of the mussels Bianca and it with a salad and those great garlic rolls would make a wonderful dinner. They also have the mussels in a spicy marinara sauce. I love good Italian style mussels in both a white and a red sauce, so I look forward to trying them in the marinara sauce, which our waiter, also named Tony said has a nice bite to it. Well, now it was on to the main course. We decided against having a pasta course for a side of pasta is served with most dishes.

   

For her entree, Cindy ordered the Chicken Francese. It is a delicate dish which is lightly egg battered and sautéed in a white wine sauce with lemon butter, it is served with a side of spaghetti with their homemade marinara sauce. They serve you two pieces which is more than enough if that was all you were eating, so she took one home for we were almost full by the time the entrees come. The flavor was delicate with just the right hint of lemon.  I tasted her chicken and totally agree that this is a wonderful dish for someone wanting a lighter sautéed dish.  
While, Cindy wanted something a little lighter, I wanted to try something with a little spice. I asked Tony, the owner what he would recommend and he suggested that I try the Seafood Sciallino. This is not on the regular menu, but is their most popular special when they run it. Tony said that while not always on the menu they can always make it. He was sure right about this being a special dish. Out came a large plate of spaghetti covered with large shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, capers and black olives covered with a wonderful white sauce. The sauce was a white sauce with garlic butter and a hint of marina. It was delicate, yet it had a little bit of a bit and was divine. The total combination of the seafood and vegetable over the spinach and pasta makes this a unique dish for those of us not used to authentic Sicilian dishes. The shrimps and scallops were plump and not over cooked and the sauce make this one of the tastiest dishes that I have had in a long time. While the menu offer so much variety, it will be hard for me to not have this great combination of lots of flavors that all come together perfectly. The portion is large and probably is enough for two lighter eaters but is also perfect for a seafood lover with a hearty appetite.
 
By now we were both totally stuffed and were ready to call it a night but our waiter said that we at least needed to split a piece of their homemade cheese cake. They offer it plan or with either a berry topping or a Carmel sauce. We opted for the Carmel sauce over the cheese cake. Out came this big piece like everything else, of creamy cheese cake covered with hot Carmel sauce and powdered sugar. The cake was moist and cheese complimented by the delicious Carmel flavor. It was easy for the two of us to quickly devour it. The desert and coffee were a perfect finishing touch to our Italian feast. Yes, we were totally stuffed, but it was well worth it knowing that this isn’t the way we eat everyday and that we were doing our splurging tonight vs. on Thanksgiving Day.

 

 

We don’t drink wine, so I can’t tell you about their wines, but they do have a full bar and wine list.   I overheard the guy at the table behind us, who was a chef from Rome (Georgia) say the wine list was rather good.  Besides the food being truly delicious, the best part was that the check was as reasonable as the food delicious our whole dinner check came to just $62. If you go there and don’t pig out like we did you can easily enjoy a two course dinner for $20 -25. If you just have a salad and one of their pasta’s this is a real value. To me it is all their sautéed and special dishes that make the short trip up Cobb Parkway or I75 to Cartersville well worth the drive. For those of us in the Acworth and Kennesaw areas, it is quicker and easier to get to Cartersville than Buckhead or Alpharetta and I will put Antonino’s up against any of the Italian restaurants there. Between Antonino’s and Fusco’s in the better known Italian restaurants in Buckhead or Alpharetta,

 Thanks to my friend Michelle for recommending this wonderful little gem. I know that we will be making the easy trip from Acworth to Carterville more frequently now that we have been to Antonino’s.

 In closing thanks also need to go to Tony, the owner, and Tony, the waiter, for providing us with a truly special evening.  Antonino’s now surely has a spot on our area favorites list and I urge all of you will make the short trip to Cartersville. I know that you won’t be disappointed. 

Antonino’s Italian Grott0
28 S Wall St
Cartersville, GA 30120
(770) 387-9664
Open HoursLUNCH: Tue – Fri 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; DINNER: Tue – Thu 5 – 9 p.m., Fri – Sat 5 – 9:30 p.m.
Website and Video’s
Menu

 

  Other Cartersville favorites which we have reveiwed are  Appalachian Grill  & Okinawa Steak & Sushi

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