A toast to Troni’s Pizza and Restaurant in Kettering

By Jurgen Durstler

Photo: Meat Lasagna at Troni’s Pizza and Restaurant in Kettering; photos: Jurgen Durstler
There is an Eastern European gentleman at the door, saying, “Heeeeey, my friend, my buddy! How’s my favorite customer?” After a long day on the job being overworked and feeling underappreciated, it’s nice to walk into such a fine greeting, even if he might say it to everyone else.

The service at Troni’s is what you’d expect from a peasant kitchen on a street in Venice—no training manuals, but a family member bringing you hot, delicious food, made from the heart, even if it is slow at times.

Daytonians are fortunate to have this Italian gem nestled in a small strip plaza in Kettering. Because I live nearby, I have visited dozens of times and have yet to be disappointed.

When I dine here, some of the highlights I savor are the generous portions, the homemade essence of their menu offerings, family-oriented service, and the erudite execution of meal preparation (for example, the pasta in the dishes is always delivered perfectly al dente and the savory sauce always tastes the same). I have never left Troni’s with anything other than a satiated appetite and the knowledge I was provided a scratch-cooked meal.

For lunch, my companion and I had the Cheese Ravioli, the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and a Spinach Roll. I have tried spinach rolls at other Italian restaurants and this one is my favorite. A perfectly baked dough brushed with garlic and olive oil and stuffed with copious amounts of fresh spinach and ricotta cheese, bursting with the flavors of each. My only complaint about the roll is it is accompanied by a tiny ramekin of red sauce to dip it in, which never lasts for more than half the roll. More sauce, please.

The five or six pillows of cheese-filled Ravioli ($8.99 lunch) are topped with Troni’s signature red sauce and baked with melted cheese on top. The deep, oval baker arrived to the table piping hot and filled to the top. The raviolis were tender, flavorful, and enjoyable.

The Spaghetti and Meat Sauce ($13.50 dinner portion/$8.99 lunch) is one of my favorite dishes: their sauce is always well spun with the pasta and bustling with the perfect marriage of ground meat and sauce. If you’re a first-timer and a carnivore, I recommend this.

Now, let’s talk pizza, which, for this review, I decided to carry out rather than eat in. Please note: they don’t deliver their pizzas, so call ahead and pick it up if you can’t dine in.

There are three types of pizza in Dayton: the chains, the Dayton-style pizza—with the thin, crackery crust cut into tiny squares with “Mooned-up” pepperoni—and the local independents that leave their own mark. Troni’s falls into the latter category and, in this writer’s opinion, is one of the finest pizzas in the region. If you want an authentic New York-style pizza, this is your place. This time, I tried a pie with pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms. Per usual, the crust had that coveted mix of both crunchy and chewy, and the toppings were plentiful. Anything made with their red sauce is a winner, and the pizza is no exception.

DCP owner Paul and I visited for dinner on a Tuesday night and tried the Steamed Mussels and a calzone for appetizers and the Meat Lasagna and Chicken Cacciatore for our entrées.

The mussels were perfectly steamed, nicely salted, and coiffed with the signature red sauce ($11.25/dozen or $16 for two dozen). I am not normally a big fan of mussels—if, for no other reason, they’re kind of small in relation to my huge appetite—but if you like that kind of diminutive food, I say go for it.

An even better and heartier starter was the Made-to-Order Calzone ($13). When Paul special-requested peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and artichokes, I anticipated they might give us a funny look and tell us we would be missing one or two of the ingredients, but not this place. The server just smiled and said, “Coming right up.”

And it did, stuffed full and more than enough for our hearty appetites. Miraculously, the artichokes within the crust were able to maintain a snappy texture. This calzone was a beast, and I thoroughly enjoyed slaying it.

With the entrées, they bring out the House Salad with their homemade house dressing and Garlic Knots. What I like most about the dressing is it isn’t cloyingly sugary sweet like so many other Dayton restaurants insist on serving its patrons. It has a nice vinegary kick with just a touch of sweetness and garlic. The only knock on the salad is it contains the dreaded iceberg lettuce. I wish they would just stick with a crisp romaine. The restaurant made Garlic Knots that accompany the salad are very tasty, brushed with olive oil and minced garlic.

The classically baked Meat Lasagna ($13.50 dinner) was substantially filled with lots of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses and the same meat sauce found with the spaghetti we ate at lunch. Delicious!

Not as impressive was the Chicken Cacciatore ($18), a small portion of three slightly overcooked chicken tenders with an underwhelming portion of pasta and sauce to accompany it. It wasn’t a bad dish, just not up to the high bar yielded by the other offerings.

As you have probably guessed by now, I am a fan of Troni’s. The food is delicious, the portions are ample, the service is friendly, and your money goes to a local business to boot. I strongly recommend you give them a try.

Who knows? Maybe you will be their next favorite customer.

Ciao and auguroni!

 

Troni’s Pizza is located at 1314 E. Dorothy Lane in Kettering. For more information, please call 937.643.9921.

 

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Jurgen Durstler
Contact DCP freelance Jurgen Durstler at JurgenDurstler@DaytonCityPaper.com

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