Sunday, January 16, 2011

Antonio's Galleria and Cafe

Name: Antonio's Galleria and Cafe
Location: 100 Oak Hill Avenue, Endicott, NY 13760
Phone: (607) 748-6269
Cuisine: Paninis, Salads, Pizza (Lunch Menu)
Price: $10-$15 per person, depending on what you get

Review:
It's a fact that Dan handles the majority of our reviews. Usually he has more to say than I do or is more motivated to comment. However, Antonio's has inspired me to snap Dan's review streak with its casual elegance and simply delicious food. Suffice to say, I am in a hurry to return.

While I have been aware of Antonio's existence, it wasn't until driving by it earlier in the week that I took a second to look at it. From the outside, it is a cute building with some decorative painting on its exterior. Its location on the corner of Oak Hill across the street from Consol's sets it in a neighborhood that Dan and I have come to enjoy for the great food that the entire street has to offer. As a result, I had an interest in what Antonio's could offer.


Yesterday afternoon, after parking in the small lot adjacent to the building, we entered Antonio's and I was immediately impressed and taken aback by its charm. The space is much more open than you would expect from the building's size and is well used. There is a bar with some sort of colored glass decorations immediately as you enter and you see the delicious looking gelato selections to the bar's left. The restaurant space has quite a few tables as well as several leather couches and ottomans for those looking to sit and relax. I know that the restaurant hosts a Thursday night trivia, as well as musical acts on the weekends. It has a downtown, almost European feel that makes it seem a bit out of place given its location in Endicott, but it sets Antonio's apart in a good way. I absolutely loved the sophisticated vibe of Antonio's and could definitely see myself coming back for drinks in the near future.

As for food and drink, we were presented with a small paper lunch menu, as well as a bound drink menu that was loaded with martini cocktails, as well as drinks made with gelato - all of which I am dying to try, but thought best not to partake in during lunch, so we both got water. For lunch selections, there were some appetizers of the Italian ilk, as well as pizzas, salads, and paninis. Not a huge selection, but I think there is something for everyone. Dan and I elected to try out the risotto cakes for an appetizer (given my love of risotto) and I went with the Tacchino Panino (turkey, bacon, cheddar, lettuce and tomato), while Dan went with the Italiano Panini (your basic Italian meats with cheese and greens, along with roasted red peppers). We were excited to see if the food could match the beauty of the space.


The risotto cakes came with a dipping sauce that was most likely marinara, but with an additional element (probably cherry peppers) that really made it special. The cakes themselves were much like crab cakes, but way better because they were filled with creamy, cheesy risotto. Seriously, I love a good crab cake, but given the choice, I would pick these every time, particularly since you don't find them on many menus.


Then came my panini with its side of pasta salad, which was fine, if a little bland. However, that pasta salad did not deserve to share a plate with my panini, which was AMAZING. From the crusty italian bread, to the bacon crumbles, to the perfect proportion of cheese, turkey, tomatoes and lettuce, it was one delicious bite after another. What really took it to the next level was the honey mustard sauce that I elected to have instead of ranch. That little kick of sweetness made this sandwich one of the best that I have ever had. I was kind enough to share a few bites with Dan and he agreed that it was righteous.


Dan's Italiano Panini was slightly less successful than mine. Although he also liked the bread and found the overall taste to be good, he has more affection for other Italian paninis in that area, particularly from Vincenzo's. He also agreed that the pasta salad was somewhat lacking. Maybe some chips or a side salad would prove more of a tasty accompaniment to the giant paninis.




Moving on to dessert, we could not leave without trying the gelato. There were many selections ranging from fruit flavors to more chocolate decadence. I elected to go with a chocolate hazelnut offering, while Dan went with the tiramisu. Although both were very good, I think that those who have had real Italian gelato in Italy would agree that Antonio's version is slightly less authentic. It was not as creamy as I remember gelato to be, but that could be due to other factors, such as freezing. Nonetheless, the gelato was a nice ending to a fantastic lunch.

Clearly, I have been won over by Antonio's. I have been looking for a place with its casual sophistication in the Binghamton area since I moved here - one that would cater to those who don't like the dive bars of Main Street or the student hangouts of downtown. Add to that its delicious food and tasty desserts and you have a winner in my book. I am very much looking forward to checking out Antonio's for dinner and drinks in the very near future.

Grade: A

Antonio's Galleria & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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