Traditional Italian at It’s Best
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.
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.
Cartersville, GA 30120