Italian eatery a tribute to Mama

How gallant of Galanti.

Naming his restaurant after Mama.

Angelina’s Italian Grill — a tip of the chef’s poufy hat to owner Phil Galanti’s mother — is not just a tribute in name, but in, well … food.

"I got the recipes from my mom," Galanti says about his mother, Angelina, whose culinary style is the featured attraction at the eatery at 5611 S. Valley View Blvd.

"When I opened in June (2010), she came in for the first four months to show me all the recipes. It’s the food she cooked for many years for her family."

Giving the restaurant her name apparently wasn’t enough. Her devoted son also christened a sandwich — their "signature sandwich," he says — after her. "It’s a breaded chicken cutlet with sauteed onions and mushrooms over provolone (cheese) with balsamic vinegar on ciabatta bread."

Mama’s verdict? "Let me tell you she is very, very picky," Galanti says. "If it’s not her cooking, she don’t like it. But I was able to nail her tomato sauce and when I made it, she said, ‘I can’t believe you came up with something like this.’ "

More menu items, he says, include his chopped Italian salad, meatballs and sausage, and chicken cutlets made fresh each morning. All the cooking harkens back to childhood memories for Galanti, who owned a potato chip company before turning restaurateur 14 months ago. "Everybody came over to my mom’s house and my grandma’s house and, oh my God, the pastas and Italian dishes, just pigging out," Galanti recalls.

"I goofed around in the kitchen (as a child), my grandmother showed me how to make homemade pizza so I’ve always been a good cook, but I never took it to the restaurant level before."

Ambience? Don’t expect anything eye-popping, he admits, a situation further aggravated by being in a strip mall surrounded by three vacant businesses that diminish foot traffic to his door. "You could miss it passing by, so I try to put out some Italian flags," he says.

"I have to do some landscaping to spruce up the place. There were two other sub shops here before me. It’s old, but I painted the wall red and green, the Italian colors."

As long as the food is colorful to the taste buds, that’s likely all it will take to make Mama Angelina beam with Italian pride.

Angelina’s Italian Grill is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Specialties (all come with homemade pasta): Angelina sandwich, $6.50; homemade meatball Parmesan hero, $6.50; chicken Parmesan sandwich, $6.50

Appetizers: Bruschetta $4.99; garlic sticks, $1.75

Salads: Antipasta salad, $6.99; chopped Italian salad, $6.99

Entrees: Spaghetti and meatballs, $7.99; spaghetti with garlic sauce, $7.99; four-cheese ravioli, $7.99

Desserts: Sugar and cinnamon sticks, $2.99; devil dog cake, $3.99

Information: 736-2700

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