TERRY’S PICKY PALATE /A whole lot of Italian goodness at Antonia’s Key West

I’ve always been a huge fan of Italian food.
This fascination probably stems from the fact that my parents lived in Italy for several years before I was born, allowing my mom to perfect such treats as Carbonara, a pasta dish I make regularly, to this day.
Fortunately for those of us Key Westers who enjoy Italian, there is Antonia’s, an Old Town institution since 1979.
Since December of 2013 this legendary eatery, at 615 Duval St. has been owned by the Onderdonks and run by entrepreneur Tommy Quartararo and his wife Kristen Onderdonk, who also own the Little Pearl Fish House & Wine Bar, and Thirsty Mermaid.
I haven’t stopped at Antonia’s since the change in ownership, so I decided to pop by and gauge the pair’s progress in putting their own stamp on the joint.
It turns out that they’re doing just fine.
My server, Brad Long, started me off with a little sampler plate of Antonia’s famous Heirloom Caprese salad. This delectable melange of heirloom tomatoes, real Italian buffalo mozzarella cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and a balsamic reduction, was to die for. As an accompaniment, Long suggests a Chateau Miraval rose, from Provence, France.
Long then set me up with a Roasted Beet salad, that isn’t on the regular menu, but finds its way onto diners’ plates from time to time as a special. This combination of red and gold beets, arugula, goat cheese, and walnuts, in a raspberry vinaigrette was hugely enjoyable.
Then it was time for the main course, of which I was actually served two: Since Antonia’s is featuring a $10 pasta special through Oct. 1, I got to sample two of the eatery’s finest offerings.
One was the Seafood Linguine, which married delectable baby squid, succulent shrimp, and marvelous Maine lobster, with tender scallops and clams, in a delicious sherry cream sauce, which Long recommends washing down with an Italian Gavi “La Rocca” white.
The other dish, a Fettuccine Bolognese,. contained a magnificent meat sauce composed of veal, pork, beef, and lamb, a tasty tomato sauce, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese, which Long said would go well with a Josh Cellars Craftsman Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, from California.
Both pasta portions were sizable; a meal in themselves, so I reluctantly was forced to take most of my pasta home to continue enjoying later.
My verdict?
Antonia’s has lost none of its old magic under its new owners, and may, in fact, have even improved on what was already arguably the best Italian cuisine in the Keys.
Do yourself a flavor and come on in to see how great Italian food is done right!
Antonia’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Credit cards are accepted.
For a reservation, or more information, call 305-294-6565, email restaurant@antoniaskeywest.com, or visit www.antoniaskeywest.com/