By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE -- Tucked away next to city hall in Port St. Lucie is a brand-new Italian restaurant that offers old-style charm.
We were greeted with smiles and "Hi guys! Hungry?" as soon as we entered the restaurant. I'm glad we were, because the portion-size of some of these dishes is going to bring me back in for a second visit soon.
The restaurant had only a few families at first, but quickly filled to capacity. The menu was family friendly, with lots of children's dinners and smaller portions to choose from.
We started off our meal with an appetizer of fresh-made mozzarella with tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was delicious, and the mix of vinegar and oil balanced perfectly with the thick slices of cheese.
The cheese, along with the majority of everything else on the menu, is made fresh every day, according to the owner, Max Scarogni.
"I would say about 99 percent of the food is made from scratch here," he said. "That includes the soup, mozzarella cheese, the Italian dressing, the desserts, everything."
We moved on excitedly to the main course. My companion ordered the Uncle Luigi's pasta combo and the pasta fagioli soup. I ordered the chicken eggplant parmigiana, which I told was one of most popular things on the menu. I began my dinner with a salad featuring the homemade Italian dressing.
After we ordered, we were quickly brought garlic rolls, which came with our dinner. The fresh-baked rolls were lightly covered in garlic and oil, and were warm and inviting. It was a great start to a meal.
The soup and salad came out, and I took turns taking bites of both, because they were both wonderful. The portions were large, so the large bowl of soup was perfect for two hungry people.
The soup was heaping with noodles and white beans, a very traditional dish. The salad was enjoyable as well, and also came in a large bowl, and was completed with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and lots of black olives. The Italian dressing was delicious, and I found myself dipping my rolls into it to get more of the flavor.
The main courses were huge, with each one taking up an entire plate. Uncle Luigi's pasta combo had stuffed shells, manicotti and ravioli covered in mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente, and had a nice bite.
My meal came with seasoned chicken cutlet, layered with eggplant, cheese and tomato sauce. The flavors of the chicken and eggplant melded together wonderfully, and the cheese held them together for one tasty bite after another.
I'm glad we saved room for dessert, because the tiramisu is something worth saving room for. This dessert is amazing, and you can taste the freshness layered in with the thick pieces of cake, cheese and whipped topping.
There are many more things to try at Anna's, and I can't wait to go back and see what else I can discover.
Anna's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is located at 291 S.E. Port St. Lucie Blvd., in Port St. Lucie. They are open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, from noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and from 3 to 9 p.m. on Sundays.