By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
SOUTH DAYTONA - If authentic, made-from-scratch Italian food is what you're craving - and you don't want to spend a fortune on it - look no further than La Italiana. Although the family-owned restaurant has only been in business for a year, it's become a must-visit for those looking for a true taste of Italy.
Located in the Nova Fountain Business Park on Nova Road, La Italiana is recognizable for its sign on the front door that reads "Home Sweet Home." The atmosphere inside the restaurant made me feel like I was at home - and the food tasted as good as Mom's, too.
Upon entering the restaurant, I was warmly greeted and seated. The tables are far enough apart to offer an intimate dining experience.
The menu at La Italiana offers a wide selection of Italian specialties, everything from classic Italian dinners, including chicken Florentine and chicken marsala, to seafood dinners, such as Italian style clams and mussels, sautéed in a white wine sauce. The restaurant also serves pizzas, calzones, strombolis and sandwiches, as well as Italian pinwheels, an appetizer where pizza fillings are rolled up in bread dough.
La Italiana's staff prepares their food in small batches so everything is made fresh. As my guest and I sampled some of the highlights of the menu, we could easily tell they lived up to their promise.
We started with two appetizers, a half-dozen order of garlic knots ($2.25) and an order of bruschetta ($8.75), which was piled high with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. While garlic knots are a great snack before a pizza, my guest and I both preferred the bruschetta, which we believed was outstanding. The homemade bread was lightly toasted with a crunch to it, and the tomatoes and basil tasted like they had just been picked from the garden. Highly recommended!
For the main course, we split a 14-inch margherita pizza ($14.75) and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs ($10.99). The pizza, topped with fresh basil and tomatoes, had the taste of true New York style brick oven pizza, which to me made it stand above other pizzerias in the area. My guest loved the spaghetti, as well as the sauce it was topped with; she felt it had the right texture and consistency, something she doesn't usually find when she orders spaghetti at a restaurant. We agreed the meatballs were very flavorful and tasted the closest to the meatballs my mother makes at home.
To wrap up our culinary tour of Italy, my guest and I split a cannoli ($2.25) and a tiramisu ($3.99) for dessert. Both desserts, sprinkled with a pinch of powdered sugar to add to the presentation, had the right amount of sweetness to them. We both felt the cannoli was the best we ever tasted!
Next time you're craving homemade authentic Italian food and can't make it to the Mediterranean, give La Italiana a try. Your taste buds will thank you.
La Italiana is located at 2841 South Nova Road, Suite 12, South Daytona. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday; the restaurant is closed Mondays. Phone: (386) 256-4952. Website: www.laitalianallc.com.