After 32 years in business, Mamma DiSalvo’s still shines
By Brian P. Sharp
By Dayton has seen many Italian restaurants over the years, such as Dominic’s and Anticoli’s, but few are still around … that is except for Mamma DiSalvo’s. The traditions have continued since 1979 when Rinaldo and Elena DiSalvo and their family opened this Kettering gem located at 1375 E. Stroop Rd. Many of the same recipes and traditions continue today. The family is always there cooking and welcoming guests. The business has expanded over the years to include the deli next door to the restaurant and the selling of sauces at area groceries. So, even if there isn’t time to dine, you can always get something to take home and enjoy. The atmosphere is casual and laid back and there is something for everyone.
My friends Jim and Steve joined me at Mamma DiSalvo’s for dinner. We were greeted quickly and taken to a table – and there is a great full service bar available right by the door in case you have a short wait for a table. Our server Erica greeted us and took drink orders. When she returned, she discussed with us the specials for the night.
We decided to try a couple of appetizers from a list that included everything from fried vegetables and cheese to antipasto. Our choices were made — the fried ravioli stuffed with cheese and jalapeno as well as fresh fried calamari. Before the appetizers could be served, Erica arrived back with drinks and warm bread. The calamari was fresh and lightly breaded — fried crisp and hot served with marinara sauce. The ravioli were piping hot and delicious. Filled with cheese and jalapeno and lightly fried — an absolute delight, also served with marinara sauce. The appetizers are offered in small and large portions. We had ordered the small portions, which easily served the three of us. Appetizers range in price from $7.50 to $9.95 for the individual or small portions while the large portions range from $11.75 to $26.95.
The salads were next: crisp mixed greens topped with fresh asiago cheese. Steve and I ordered ours with the house dressing, while Jim opted for bleu cheese. You can also order a fresh wedge salad, which I saw someone order at the table next to us that looked divine. Appetizers, salads and warm bread … we should have stopped there, but we didn’t! Salads are served with dinner but other salad and soup options are available and range in price from $3.50 to $6.95.
Dinner choices are plentiful and include Mamma’s specialties, pastas, veal, chicken and even senior dinners. Most dinner options range in price from $13.95 to $24.95 with some options lower and higher. We made our selections – Chicken Parmigiano, Fettuccini Alfredo with chicken and the special of the evening, Penne with chicken, mushrooms and asparagus.
The Chicken Parmigiano filled the plate — the cheese still bubbling from the oven with a side of spaghetti. The chicken was lightly breaded and topped with cheese and then marinara sauce. The Fettuccini Alfredo was served with just the right amount of sauce … sometimes things are over sauced — this was not. The special of the evening was a healthy balance of vegetables, pasta and chicken. The entrees are large enough to share, or leave you plenty for leftovers. There is truly something for everyone including a large dish similar to a calzone, but much better! It’s called Mamma’s Homemade Panzarotti – you need to allow 45 minutes for it to be prepared, but it is worth it! It is Mamma’s homemade dough stuffed with meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce. As the menu says it is “grande and delicious!” This is definitely a dish to share.
Trust me, at this point we were full! However, we just couldn’t resist hearing about the desserts. The dessert options include everything from Spumoni Ice Cream to Cannoli to Tiramisu to Cheesecake. The desserts range in price from $1.85 to $9.95. We decided to split a dessert amongst the three of us, so Tiramisu it was. A nice mix of soaked ladyfingers, cocoa and cream arrived shortly — a light but rich ending to a great dinner.
Mamma DiSalvo’s is just 15 minutes from downtown Dayton. While you certainly can (and should) purchase the famous sauce at area grocery stores — and you can also run into the DiSalvo’s deli and pick up something for dinner — it is important to take the time and join the family for dinner inside the restaurant, just like the Italians do. You won’t be disappointed.
Who wants to join me for a Panzarotti? I’m getting hungry again!
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.