THE ITALIAN OVEN
An Authentic Italian Experience: The Italian Oven
Timeless Charm & Exquisite Cuisine
By Chef Gabriela Ackerman
As I entered this charming Italian restaurant, I could not help feeling as though I’d been transported to Italy. The Italian Oven has a rustic yet cozy ambiance, adorned with vintage photographs and memorabilia that speaks volumes about its heritage. The passion and authenticity that resonated within these walls, due to their family-owned establishment, has been serving traditional Italian cuisine since for over 40 years.
We were greeted warmly by the owner, Salvatore, a Naples native and football aficionado, who personally took care of our dining experience. He proudly showcased the centerpiece of the restaurant—a magnificent oven, imported all the way from Naples itself. This traditional oven was a testament to their commitment to crafting the perfect Neapolitan-style pizzas, a reputation they had built over the years.
The rest of the staff members mirrored the owner’s welcoming demeanor and attentive service. From the moment we were seated, our needs were anticipated and met with efficiency. Salim, our waiter, exuded a genuine passion for the restaurant’s offerings, happily answering our questions and providing recommendations tailored to our preferences. His knowledge of the menu and the ingredients used in each dish was commendable, further enhancing the dining experience.
Our culinary journey began with a delightful starter of Fiori di Zucca, delicate zucchini flowers freshly plucked from Salvatore’s garden that same morning and expertly fried to a golden crisp. The dish was an ode to simplicity, allowing the natural flavors of the flowers to shine through, enhanced by a light touch of lemon and salt.
Next, we were presented with a comforting Pasta e Fagioli, a humble yet satisfying bowl of goodness. Each spoonful carried the robust flavors of the beans, herbs, and vegetables, perfectly balanced and reminiscent of the old-world Italian countryside.
Salvatore surprised us with a Pizza Bianca—crafted in the Neapolitan tradition with a medley of garlic, mozzarella, and fontina cheese.
As I took my first bite, I was immediately greeted by the aromatic allure of the garlic. The combination of mozzarella and fontina cheese elevated this pizza to another level of indulgence. The milky richness of the mozzarella mingled harmoniously with the nutty, buttery nuances of the fontina. Together, they formed a creamy and melty layer that blanketed the crust, creating a luscious pie.
For the main course, we indulged in a selection of classic Italian dishes that showcased the restaurant’s dedication to keeping everything in-house.
The Manicotti, generously filled with a creamy mixture of ricotta and spinach, was a comforting delight. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the combination of flavors was nothing short of exceptional. The dish exemplified the culinary heritage passed down through generations, with every forkful telling a story of tradition and love.
The Ravioli di Ricotta, delicate pockets of pasta filled with smooth ricotta cheese and spinach. Each ravioli was a work of art, tender and bursting with flavor.
The accompanying tomato homemade pomodoro was rich and luscious, perfectly complementing the dish.
Fettuccine with shrimp, zucchini flowers and avocado, a new addition to their summer menu is an intriguing combination that caught my attention.
If you’re looking for a dish that screams “summer vibes” then this friend is for you. Its light and refreshing components of the dish make it ideal for warmer weather and make you think you’re having a salad.
Now this, as I type my mouth is watering and I can honestly say that the last time a had a Branzino this good was in Portofino 2019 with a glass of Infiné 1939 Pinot Grigio. The Branzino, a whole Mediterranean sea bass accompanied by seasonal garden vegetables and linguine marinera that offered a burst of freshness with every bite. The skin was beautifully crisp, while the flesh remained moist and flaky, revealing its pristine freshness. This dish showcased the artistry of the chef, who expertly balanced simplicity and finesse that celebrated the essence of Mediterranean cuisine.
Finally, dessert arrived. We were first presented with a homemade Tiramisu, a classic Italian dessert, was a revelation. Layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, luscious mascarpone cream, and a dusting of cocoa created a symphony of flavors and textures, leaving us yearning for more.
The almond flour peach tart was a testament to the skill and artistry of Salvatore, who makes 2 versions of this weekly. The tender crust encased a delectable filling of fresh peaches, lightly sweetened and beautifully balanced. Each bite transported us to the sun-drenched orchards of Italy.
Following was the imported pistachio cake, a must-try. Every forkful revealed the unmistakable taste of high-quality pistachios, the richness, and nuttiness dancing on our palates. The cake was moist and fragrant, a true indulgence that left us in awe.
The piece de resistance was experiencing Salvatore surprising us with a theatrical display of flambéed peaches soaked in red wine. The scent of caramelized fruit wafted through the air, enticing our taste buds. Served alongside homemade vanilla ice cream, this sweet finale was the perfect culmination of a memorable meal.
The combination of a Neapolitan oven, a passionate owner, and a commitment to in-house preparation resulted in an exceptional dining experience. From the delectable Pizza Bianca to the tantalizing desserts, each dish showcased the flavors of Italy with finesse and respect for tradition. If you’re seeking an authentic taste of Italy, this restaurant is a must-visit.