Amantea's Family Restaurant
32777 West Warren, Garden City, MI
Review by Rosie
This restaurant is housed in an unassuming building on one end of a suburban strip mall so the architecture is not what draws customers in. The interior design is almost kitschy with Home Depot style garden lattice panels and column facades painted white applied to Mediterranean blue sky frescoed walls to simulate a terrace. The tables are covered in vinyl tablecloths and the dishes and silverware are standard restaurant variety. Nothing special, you say. Why even bother going there? you ask.
Two reasons. One: the food. Two: the service.
This wasn't our first visit to Amantea's. In fact, it is something of a tradition. The Birthday Girl likes to have her whole family around so a suitable weekend date is agreed upon. Arrangements are made ahead of time with the restaurant owner, who is a longtime family friend, and the whole party sails through the waiting crowd to be seated immediately. The other customers must wait to be seated because they don't take reservations, even on Saturday night.
A favorite wait person was assigned to our table, greeted the Birthday Girl with a hug, and took drink orders immediately. Bread baskets were brought with the drinks and were replenished frequently. The owner's own family were there eating dinner and he was walking around with his baby grandchildren in his arms greeting the customers, prompting our wait person to comment "You know the food is good if the owner's family is eating here." And she was right. It is very, very good.
The menu is quite varied, including everything from antipasto to pizza. Broasted chicken to ribs. Pork chops to frog legs. Frog legs???
Birthday Girl's hubby ordered an enormous pepperoni pizza with the intent of bringing the leftovers home because it tastes just as good re-warmed in the oven at home. The rest of us decided to go with pasta, but the offerings just in that part of the menu were dizzying. The junior member of the party was quite happy with spaghetti with sauce on the side. The sauce splattered slightly landing on the proverbial white shirt as the spaghetti was slurped up, but it sure tasted good. The mostaccioli and gnocchi were delicious with both the meat sauce and the mushroom sauce, as were the cheese-filled and meat-filled ravioli. Each entrée came with a salad and each salad was ordered with the house Italian dressing -- light and tangy. Just right to clean the palate. All of us ate for approximately $10 per person. Very reasonable -- especially since several boxes were needed to bring home the leftovers. The portions are very generous, even for the teens among us (teens eat HUGE quantities).
We didn't order dessert because there was a birthday cake waiting at home, but one of these days, it would be worth sticking around for the canolli too ...
If you're ever in the neighborhood, drop in and give Amantea's a try. Even though it is somewhat distant from our usual stomping grounds, it’s worth the drive. And if it's crowded and you don't want to wait for a table, do try the take-out -- highly recommended by picky eaters!
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