When I first got word that there was a fairly new restaurant in Mahopac, it was something I had to check out. Being someone who grew up there, I was always fond of the new things that were brought to the town. Over the many years, I have seen it flourish with many different businesses and improvements to the already beautiful place.
I was told about Ristorante Spadafora by a friend and she recommended the place to my wife and I. Being an Italian couple, any opportunity to eat some good Italian cooking is something we won’t let pass us by.
|Olive oil with rosemary and herbs|
|Crispy garlic bread|
Ristorante Spadafora is located on Clark Place in Mahopac, and is a cute little Italian eatery. The main dining room seats about 30, but during the beautiful summer months (and weather permitting, spring and fall) there is some outdoor seating as well. A second dining room is under construction for larger crowds and catering. The restaurant is located just about a block from Lake Mahopac, which offers a local source of dining for those who are out enjoying the water in those summer months.
Ok, so I am sure you have had your fair share of Italian food and been to many Italian places within the surrounding areas, but this place? I can promise you it is unlike any other Italian place you have been to and it is for a particular reason. If you are home grown Italian, you will love this place. If you like originality, you will love this place. If you had family traditions of cooking dinner with everyone, you will love this place. Before I dive into the food (which is amazing) I want to tell you about why I respect this place.
My wife Arlene, and I got to meet the Cook/Owner, Antonino Cannavo. Antonino is not a chef, he is a cook and he explained to us why so. At first I was taken aback as he wasn’t crediting himself as a chef, but the reason behind it will truly touch your heart if you grew up in an Italian household. Antonino learned how to cook at a young age. Growing up with an Italian family, all the cooking was done in the kitchen from scratch, and with relatives. During the holidays when it was time to feast, it wasn’t his mother that was in the kitchen, it was his aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and him. He learned how to perfect recipes, not from a cook book but from the teachings of everybody in the kitchen. A true home grown cook. As Italians do, during the holidays they come together and in numbers. Sixty to 70 people strong for holiday dinners, Antonino was in the kitchen with dozens others, creating the feast. From pasta sauces, to spiedini’s it was all getting made. Coming from an Italian family, you would understand this.
|Wood burning pizza oven|
Put it this way, when you walk into Ristorante Spadafora and take your seat at the table in the dining room, you are actually sitting at the kitchen table of Antonino Cannavo, being served Sicilian cooking passed down through his relatives. You are eating a home cooked meal.
|Antonino’s amazing riceball|
I ordered the Chicken Marsala which came with a side pasta, and Arlene ordered the Rigatoni Bolognese. We ordered one of the special appetizers for the night which was rice balls, and bread was also served.
|My side of rigatoni in garlic and oil sauce. AMAZING!!!|
|A close up for texture|
The rice ball wasn’t your standard rice ball, but a stuffed rice ball with meat, peas, and cheese, served on a bed of spinach. The outer layer was a golden brown to add crisp. Unlike the typical rice ball that is solid rice all the way through, this one was moist, and filled with flavors one could never explain. In short they were incredible and if our server brought us a dozen, we would have eaten them all.
|Chicken Marsala covered in mushrooms and sauce. So good!|
|You can almost taste it (but get the real thing for yourself)|
My chicken Marsala may have been the best chicken Marsala I have had in ages, and by the end of the night, I learned why. Antonino told us that for his cooking, he uses real wine and not cooking wine. This would explain the flavor in my dish. The chicken was pounded thin and smothered in mushrooms and Marsala sauce. The sauce was just the right amount of sweet, and I made sure I got every drop and every mushroom. For the side pasta, I got rigatoni with garlic and oil sauce. Now let me tell you about this. If they served this sauce in a to-go cup, I would have drank it through a straw while I drove home. Arlene chimed in by telling me that it was the best garlic and oil sauce she had ever had. Needless to say, my dish stood no chance. There were no leftovers to take home.
|A healthy portion of Rigatoni Bolognese|
Arlene’s dish on the other hand was more than plenty to take home. She was served a large plate of her Rigatoni Bolognese (meat sauce for those who don’t know). I only sampled a few pieces of her dish as I was full from mine, but it was outstanding. Throughout the night see complemented the dish as it is one of her favorite Italian dishes.
As full as we were, we had to take on desert. I saw on the menu homemade tiramisu, and my heart was won. I didn’t have a choice, I had to get it. So I ordered the tiramisu paired with a double espresso. Again, a dish that didn’t stand a chance. Creamy, tasty, and topped with cocoa powder.
Ristorante Spadafora also serves up some good fire cooked pizza, so stop in for lunch and grab a pie. A special shout out to Jim Neubrand for creating beautiful pies. He sent me some of his photos but I had trouble getting them on the site.
|Decaf double espresso. I had to be able to sleep that night.|
|Has to be the best Tiramisu I ever had.|
Antonino will also be introducing special events at the restaurant such as wine tastings and cigar nights for the cigar enthusiast. This is something you surly need to check out on those beautiful nights.
Ristorante Spadafora has to be on your places to eat. You will fall in love with this place. I once said that Mahopac needed some more good eateries and I got my wish. Mahopac needs this place. They need the tradition, they need the originality and they need an Italian place where you can sit and enjoy your meal and feel like you are right at home. Go to Ristorante Spadafora and introduce yourself to the cook, share with him your Italian tradition because by sitting in his dining room, he is sharing his tradition with you.
18 Clark Place
Mahopac, NY 10541