Awesome Eats in Tuscany, Italy. Well, it felt like that anyway.
The Old Mudd Tavern was the home to Angela’s Italian Restaurant for the past nine-and-a-half years. But recently owner Girolamo Amato, nicknamed ‘Mimmo’, moved into the strip shopping center around the corner. He reconstructed the interior to mimic a quaint Tuscan village. He did a fabulous job pulling it off; welcome to Italy.
Hungry village folk are welcomed with the smell of garlic and simmering marinara in an atmosphere of alfresco dining that’s in a make believe Tuscan village.
Built-in roof tops tiled with old (1920’s) blue ludowici clay tiles Mimmo picked up in New Jersey flank the vestibule and face a large wooden pergola weaved with grape leaves and clusters of grapes dangling above.
Weathered windows, shutters, an old door and wooden beams all salvaged from a local old barn are incorporated throughout the restaurant and give it an authentic rustic charm.
Angela’s is a family owned and operated eatery and they take great pride in preparing their Italian food. Mimmo was born in Carini, Italy, and came to the states at age 19 looking for opportunity. Someone gave him just that in the kitchen of a restaurant as a dishwasher, and it all started from there. Today, his wife and grown children work alongside him, seven-days-a-week in the family eatery.
The marinara sauce is made in huge kettles and simmers for hours on the stove top, much like it is in every kitchen in Italy. The marinara is made from fresh Roma tomatoes that have been peeled and de-seeded, onions, carrots, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper -- then fresh basil is added after the simmer. It is robust, thick, sweet and tangy. This sauce is just like a good grandma’ would make and begs to be mopped up with soft bread. “The secret to my flavorful sauce is that we don’t add water, and all of the ingredients are fresh, not dried or canned," Amato said.
His sauce is also used in making the four-layer lasagna, made from scratch in huge pans. Layered with Ricotta, Parmesan, Mozzarella, ten pounds of ground beef and ribbon pasta -- this is comfort food that warms the heart and fills the soul. Rich, cheesy, and tender, this filling dish leaves you wanting a nap.
Not being a fan of ‘regular’ pizza pies, I was delighted when Mimmo brought out his specialty pizza. The Mimmo’s Veggie Pizza is not what you’d expect. It is a wonderful combination of flavors you might find at a famous restaurant like Spago’s in New York City.
First the pizza dough is smeared with a layer of ricotta cheese (no red sauce is used on the pie), then fresh pesto, red onion, spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, and sun-dried tomato mixture is piled ½” to ¾” high before baking. The tender eggplant bounces off of the sweet sun-dried tomatoes, creating a little slice of heaven. Bravo! Step away from the boring and ordinary, step into Angela’s un-pizza creation. Change is so good!
Another pasta dish that hits the mark is the Tortellino. As if the filling containing four different kinds of cheese AND sweet caramelized onions weren’t enough, the pink sauce takes it over the edge. Butter, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, garlic and a drop of housemaid marinara tops those tender pillows of pasta, making it hard to resist licking the plate clean in public.
The double steak and cheese sub, grilled chicken breast with lemon, garlic, and spices, and seafood pasta with white wine, clams, shrimp, and scallops sautéed in the marinara remain popular favorites with the locals. Mimmo believes in good-sized portions, meaning most diners go home with a left-over box. What’s not to love?
The move allowed the family, who work in their restaurant seven-days-a-week, to build a much-needed private room for parties, meetings and groups, right off of the main village ally. The large room is beautifully designed, continuing the theme of the rustic village with hand painted walls and beams from the old barn.
There is no fee for the use of the private room. It can hold up to 75 people, making it the perfect place for any group event. Food can be ordered off the menu individually, buffet-style or, like a real Italian family, family style. I envision red and white tablecloths and candles burning in Chianti bottles, laughter, Italian music and platters of his good food being passed around…….Holiday party anyone?
Angela’s NEW location can be found at 6336 Jefferson Davis Hwy. at the Thornburg exit off of I-95. When you go, tell Mimmo and his family you’ve come for a little bit of Tuscany as described in Fredericksburg Patch.