Restaurant Owners Reflect Heritage in Business
By Matt Bayman
Without traveling much farther than Main Street in Troy, local residents and visitors to the city can enjoy flavors from around the world.
Troy is the dining hub of Miami County. It has more restaurants than any other community in the county and, by far, it has the most ethnic restaurants, including three Mexican restaurants, two Chinese restaurants, one Japanese restaurant, an Italian restaurant and a Cajun restaurant. Throw in the food of pubs such as Dunaway’s Beef N’ Ale, which specializes in Irish food and Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company, where French bread is baked every morning of the week, and downtown Troy is a pretty worldly place.
Some restaurants are new to Troy, including LeDoux’s, which recently moved from its location on County Road 25-A to the heart of downtown Troy at 118 W. Main St. Other restaurants, such as Dunaway’s and La Piazza, have been at their same locations in Troy for decades.
In fact, this year, La Piazza is celebrating its 20th anniversary at 2 N. Market St. The Italian restaurant has continually won “best-of” awards for its food and atmosphere.
Owner Michael Anticoli, a third-generation Italian restaurant owner, has been in the restaurant business since he was a boy, following in the footsteps of his father and grandparents. Anticoli said Italy, where his family originates, has always been an inspiration to him and his business.
“Everything food-related in Italy is done with passion and done with quality in mind,” he said. “I’ve always said that average cooking can be elevated to spectacular cooking by dedicating yourself to buying the best ingredients you can afford. In Italy, the Italians are masters at honoring the ingredients and components of their simple cooking … and we never lose sight of that here [at La Piazza].”
During trips to his family’s home in Italy, Anticoli said he learned the traditions that surround Italian cooking.
“Members of my family spent a good part of the day preparing for dinner. They visited the market and the bakery. They made pasta, cooked sauce was cooked, they brought up homemade wine and olive oil from the cantina under the house, and we picked figs outside of town. It all came together, not only to provide something incredibly delicious, but also to connect people together.”
Anticoli said this background and heritage allows him to understand that he is not just serving food at his restaurant. “We’re helping to create dining experiences for people with food as our centerpiece. The only way to do it right is to be quality-driven,” he said.
Born and raised in French Louisiana in the Acadiana region, Don LeDoux, owner of LeDoux’s Cajun Restaurant at 118 W. Main St. in downtown Troy, said his upbringing has had a major influence on his restaurant ownership, but at the same time, years spent in Ohio have allowed him to know what kind of Cajun food the locals in Miami Valley are interested in.
“All of our dishes are seasoned to please the taste buds, not burn ‘em,” said LeDoux. “We use lots of fresh garlic, vegetables and olive oil to complement our savory dishes. You taste the food. We don’t cover up the natural flavor with spice.”
LeDoux, who retains much of his original Louisiana accent, even though he has lived in Troy for almost 15 years, said the restaurant’s menu features authentic Cajun dishes that are cooked for flavor rather than effect. This includes Cajun staples like jambalaya, gumbo and crab cakes and extends into po-boys, vegetarian pasta dishes, pork chops, steaks and seafood, just to name a few.
A little off the beaten path, but still within Troy’s city limits at 1700 County Road 25-A, is El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant.
Just as with Anticoli and LeDoux, El Sombrero owner Ruben Peleyo has developed a loyal following by staying true to his roots.
As a child and young man living in Ayutla in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, Pelayo’s mother, Teresa, instilled the importance of giving back to the community. One day a year, she would open up her home and feed anyone who came to the door. When Pelayo came to the United States and eventually opened his restaurants in Troy and Piqua, he made it an annual tradition to provide free Thanksgiving dinners to anyone who walks in his doors. Pelayo’s mother also taught him to cook in the style of Jalisco, which is in southwest Mexico. Just as with American food, the styles of cooking vary from region to region in Mexico. Ruben’s cooking style uses mild spices and mouth-watering sauces, not to mention monstrous portions, to please customers far and wide.
Residents of Troy and the surrounding area are very lucky to have three very popular, authentic Mexican restaurants that serve very different Mexican foods.
At La Fiesta, 836 W. Main St., the kitchen’s unique oils and fast service, not to mention an owner who can do a shot of the hottest hot sauce in the world and not shed a single tear, make it a very popular restaurant for lunch and dinner. Los Pitayos, 2317 W. Main St., caters to families and is known for its combination plates.
To round things out, Troy has three unique Asian restaurants. Tokyo Peking is located downtown and Sakai Japanese Bistro is on the west end of town at 2303 W. Main St. One of the most unique Asian restaurants in Troy, however, is Lee’s Garden Restaurant, a little place located next to the railroad tracks at 121 E. Staunton Road (State Route 55). The restaurant is small and a menu really isn’t necessary. Guests simply ask for what they want and the owner/chef cooks it up about 20 feet from the dining area. It’s served fast and with flavor, and it’s the oldest Chinese restaurant in town.
With so many flavors to experience and so many restaurants to visit, there’s always a reason to dine in Troy.
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Bayman at MattBayman@DaytonCityPaper.com