By J.M. Copeland
For Hometown News
Tufo's Bistro is an Italian Restaurant with a twist. From appetizers to dessert everything is homemade.
Owner Sam Tufo relies on 56 years of family tradition and recipes to offer his diners a one of a kind dining experience in Daytona Beach Shores.
The epicurean journey begins at the door when guests leave the heat and the beach traffic behind and enter a cozy dining room of intimate tables and individual booths in alcoves. For larger groups there is a separate dining room that accommodates up to 15 diners.
"People tell me they like to just come in to get away from the busy outside," Mr. Tufo said.
Many order the eggplant as an appetizer to start their meal, but my husband and I decided on the Stuffed Hot Half, an excellent choice for those who crave the heat of Hungarian hot peppers served in a special red meat sauce.
Selecting an entree isn't easy, but is an excellent excuse to go back again and again. Traditional Italian fare includes lasagna and spaghetti. My husband chose the homemade Gnocchi, a Tufo specialty with sausage and meatballs while I tried the Shrimp & Asparagus & Steak with the jumbo shrimp sautéed in garlic butter and asparagus.
After the salad, fresh bread and baked potato, I wasn't sure how I would ever finish the generous portion. Oh, but I did and even left room for homemade tiramisu while my husband finished his meal with bread pudding.
The menu even includes hamburgers, hotdogs and torpedoes. Mr. Tufo said tourists checking in late and locals wanting a later bite to eat can come by for a quick meal to dine in or carry out.
The personal service extends to the owner himself as Mr. Tufo regularly visits with diners during the meal to make sure all is what they expected. Even when he is in the kitchen, Mr. Tufo has a system to determine if a customer enjoyed their meal.
If I see a plate come back and there's still a lot of food on it and no one has asked for a to-go box I go out and ask if there was a problem. I want them to tell me the truth. It won't hurt my feelings," he said.
Tufo's opened June 19 and, in that time, he has made new friends, including local hotel managers, but not all of his guests are strangers, many followed him and his staff from his previous restaurant, Crane's Roost in the Crane Lakes community.
"I wanted to get out into the open so people could see me. My other restaurant was in a gated community," he said.
So where does Mr. Tufo go if he wants a home cooked meal? His mom's, of course. "No one cooks better than me ... except my mom. When I want homemade food, I go home."
Fortunately the rest of us can go to Tufo's.
Location: 3218 S. Atlantic Ave Daytona Beach Shores
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Reservations accepted: (386) 492-7961
Entree prices range from $10 to $19