The Anticolis still have it!

The Anticolis still have it!

Giuliano is rich in heritage and flavor

By Brian P. Sharp

Photo: Lasagna alla Romano at Giuliano in Miamisburg

Growing up in Dayton, especially north of downtown, we had many great dining options. There was Suttmiller’s, Brown Derby, The Tropics and The Key Hole, just to name a few. There was one, however, that seemed to outlast the others: Anticoli’s. That great authentic Italian restaurant located on Salem Avenue just west of Philadelphia Drive was a staple for anyone in Dayton. That isn’t where they got their start though, nor is it where they continue to live on today – and they do live on!

In the late 1940s the Anticoli family opened a luncheonette in East Dayton where many of the Italian families settled. That luncheonette was called the Rendezvous. It was part of a duplex where the family also lived.  Soon after, the family remodeled and added a full orchestra out in the biergarten. That tradition continued until 1950 when Mom Anticoli decided to sell and move to Salem Avenue – Gloria was there, Leo was a freshman and his brother Tony was in Korea. The stress of selling the family home, selling the old restaurant, building a new restaurant and home certainly took its toll. Mom Anticoli suffered a heart attack.

The traditions continued on Salem Avenue for many years. Dad Anticoli passed away in 1976 and Mom in 1979. Tony, Leo and Gloria stayed very involved in the operations until Tony retired in the 1990s. Leo told me, “Gloria was the heart of the restaurant – she was always working on recipes, visiting with guests and working in the kitchen.” Gloria’s family extended to the customers and her church family. Leo and Gloria separated the business partnership, and Leo continued on. In 1992, Leo and his son Michael opened LaPiazza in Troy. Leo was involved and went back and forth for a while between Troy and Dayton, but changes were in the works in Dayton. In 2000, Leo moved from the location on Salem Avenue and opened Café Anticoli on North Main Street in Clayton. That seemed to be the answer at the time, and certainly was a successful location for many years. Michael bought out Leo’s interest in LaPiazza and has since opened a second LaPiazza in New Bremen. Leo maintained the North Main Street location from 2000 until 2010 when he did not renew his lease. Things were quiet for a while, but then an opportunity presented itself and Leo and his son Chris have done it again. Just minutes from the Dayton Mall in downtown Miamisburg is Giuliano an Anticoli Tavern – a restaurant with an 80-year heritage.

I recently made two visits to Giuliano. The first for dinner – I just had to see if the rich traditions that I remembered from Salem Avenue could be found in Miamisburg. In fact, many were exactly as I remembered them. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana. I chose to start my meal with a house salad. A mix of greens tossed in the house garlic dressing. There have been many garlic dressing options in Dayton, and some are legendary. This is one of those – exactly as I remembered it – thick with garlic tossed on the greens and served with tomato. The chicken parmigiana was also as I remembered it and served with penne pasta. Rich in flavor, seasoned and the cheese browned perfectly – topped with a rich marinara. The dinner menu is full of traditional dishes and entrees that range in price from $12 to $26. There are also appetizer, salad, steak and seafood offerings that complete the menu. Additionally, there are pizza and sandwich options, and even a children’s menu.

While Giuliano is open seven days a week for dinner starting at 4:30 p.m., it is also open Tuesday through Friday – as well as Sunday – for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday there is a lunch buffet served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A full lunch menu is also available.

I decided to make another visit for lunch just to see the options. I arrived just after 1:30 p.m., and while the staff member that greeted me – who I will allow to remain nameless – didn’t seem too happy that I was there just a short time before the end of lunch, the server that I had (Josh) made up for all of her inadequacies. Well done, Josh.

I decided to try a couple of the lunch menu options. The first was the pasta e’fagioli soup, which is served piping hot – full of fresh vegetables, a rich broth, tomatoes and pasta: an authentic version of the imposter served at the local Italian chain restaurants. I also had to have another house salad – I just couldn’t stop thinking about that dressing! Again, it was just as perfect as always. I ordered a traditional lunch entrée of lasagna alla Romano – this was the original recipe that I remembered so fondly. Lasagna pasta layered with meat, cheese and marinara sauce. I also decided to try something that seemed just a bit out of place on this menu – the Monte Cristo. While this sandwich was full of flavor – fresh meat and cheese, but it seemed to be a bit shy of batter – it was sprinkled with powdered sugar, but is traditionally served with a jam (which was also absent). The sandwich is served with chips. Lunches range in price from $6 to $10 – certainly reasonable.

My final thoughts: if you don’t make the very short drive to Miamisburg, you are missing out! Giuliano is rich in heritage with recipes that are identical to those that you will remember from years gone by. Stick to the basic Italian options – they will not disappoint! Who wants to join me for lunch or dinner at Giuliano an Anticoli Tavern?  Leo and Chris – keep up the great work … and the rich traditions!

Giuliano an Anticoli Tavern is located at 67 S. Main St. in Miamisburg, Ohio. For more information call 937.859.3000 or visit giulianotavern.com.

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com

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