Anna Donte in Naugatuck / Union City red-lines my chow-ometer; anyone been there?
I stopped off Route 8 to sneak around Waterbury traffic and saw the "Homemade Ravioli" sign on a storefront window. I pulled in to pick some up for the home freezer, and saw it's actually a small, 15 table, white tablecloth Italian restaurant.
Wow, did this place have it all. The food on everyone's tables looked outstanding. Bulbous raviolis on wide plates with deep red sauce. Thick chops.
They offer a small menu of a few apps and salads, about 10 menu entrees, a half dozen entree specials plus 4 or 5 ravioli specials, and very good prices -- $13-18 entrees. I like small menus. Shows they're focused on a few fresh quality items. They're open for dinner only on Wed-Sat, and lunch Wed-Fri, which I found charming and promising.
I met Donna Grillo the owner who took my to-go order. She was so pleasant as she packaged up my to-go stuff. I got some frozen raviolis of various fillings and a quart of sauce. They've been around for five years, everything fresh made on premises. She's working on a getting a cookbook published, the manuscript was under the counter.
I met one of the patrons sitting at a deuce near the door as Donna went to the back to make change for me. They said they've eaten there twice a week for two years. The chef makes off-menu requests for them. I definitely want to put in the time at Donna's tables to get that kind of treatment.
I got home 30 minutes later, and cracked open the quart of red sauce from my package. Perfect stuff. I now realize how stupid I was earlier when Donna said, "I've got a lasagna coming out of the oven -- you want a serving of that to go?" and I declined. Like turning down a date with Jessica Alba.
I'm heading there asap for a meal. Has anyone been?
384 North Main St.
Naugatuck, CT 06770
I totally agree with you! We just ate here for the first time and the food was amazing. All of our guests commented on the delicious food and how well prepared everything was. We had appetizers (crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms) which were well prepared. The escarole was outstanding! The Anna Dont'e salad was a beautiful mix of flavors and the dressing was perfect. Chicken Piccata and Chicken Parmesan were our main course, along with homemade pasta. Guests commented on how moist the chicken was and how the sauces were just perfect. Portions were large and we are happy to have leftovers. BYOB is excellent and the cost for the evening was just right! A place we can't wait to go back to soon. As one friend said, "It's like eating in your grandmother's kitchen." Very friendly and helpful staff!
I must disagree with you...the food is mediocre at best. I have eaten at just about every Italian restaurant in CT and Anne Donte doesn't cut it. From the start, the bread was cold-why don't they realize that nice Italian bread tastes soooo much better when it is heated? And the "butter" , which tasted more like spread had little chunks of sage in it....a disguise perhaps. The raviolis were good...however, the sauce was a chunky tomato, overly sweet concoction. Actually there must have been a sale on stewed tomatoes as they were an ingredient in everything-broccoli rabe with sausage, spagetti squash.... the chicken francaise was a disgrace-big fat cutlet, tasteless. As hungry as he was, that diner left the whole dish uneaten--and the waitress didn't even inquire whether if it was ok. The lamb ossu buco was long legs of lamb, not shanks and was fatty as well as visually unappealing. We tried it, we won't be back!!
I've been there several times for dinner and have always have a great time. The food was very tasty, well seasonsed, large porportions and well crafted. The salad was very fresh, nice selection of mixed greens. The dressing was a delicious vingarette and wasn't drowning the delicate greens. I could have made a meal of the salad alone.
I ordered the London Broil on my last visit and the accompanying potatoes were the most delicious ones I have ever had at a restaurant. The owner came over to ask about our meal and I had to ask her if I was correct in sensing that the potatoes were cooked with some bacon fat as they had a smoky, decendent flavor, but it wasn't overpowering. She assured me they weren't but refused to give up the secret.
We told her how much we enjoyed her place and the food and she asked if she could sit and talk to you a little about it. We were glad to have her join us and talk over the biz a bit. She had great pride in her chef and we couldn't have agreed more.
Two other points I would like to make: First, the place is BYOB. I love that idea. There is a corking fee, but a small price to pay to bring your own wine to dinner and not have to blow your budget with ordering bottles out when your with friends.
Lastly, the place was almost booked when we were there with 2 waitresses one and the owner. I found the service lacking. We had to ask for an ice bucket and corkscrew 3 times, it took about 20 minutes to get both and the ice bucket was only filled a third of the way. I will chalk this up to a new waitress, you could tell she had never waited tables before. We weren't in a rush to eat and run, so we lingered over our food and let the service issues slide.
I would recommend the place in a heartbeat as there are so few neighborhood places with a dedicated following. Anna Donte doesn't advertise and relies on word of mouth, and I think they use the revenue to get quality ingredients. Check it out if you're in the area.