Tucked away in the Murdock Carousel Plaza is a gem of an Italian Restaurant called Donato’s. When you enter, you will see a working turnstile. As you walk down the hall, it is like you are in a NY subway complete with white tile walls and posters. If you listen carefully you will even hear the sounds of a subway train. The dining room is so very cute, and some tables are as if you are eating outside on a NY street. There is even a parking meter. They have a separate bar area that reminds me of the bars in NYC. This really adds to the experience.
But what about the food? Their pastas are homemade as are the sausage, meatballs, mozzarella and sauces. If you have never had homemade pasta’s, you are in for a real treat! There is nothing better.
All the staff is warm and friendly as well as professional. You can tell they enjoy working there. Our server was Amy and she really made our dining there a really great experience. She answered all our questions, food was brought out hot and in a timely manner, drinks refilled. All those details other places sometimes overlook told us that the diner mattered to them.
My dining partner ordered the Chicken Marsala, prepared with mushrooms and sweet marsala wine (15.99). They requested it without the mushrooms. I ordered the Stuffed Shells, prepared with superfine ricotta, mozzarella, Romano cheeses, and baked with meat sauce. They serve 4 and you can also have marinara sauce instead of meat sauce ($15.99).
We started with Sicilian Rice Balls (arancini), Arborio rice, sausage and Italian cheeses breaded and fried golden brown ($7.99). There is 4 to a serving. These reminded me of some homemade ones I had many years ago. They are served with a side of sauce for dipping.
All entrees are served with choice of soup or salad. We choose the salads. The fresh baked bread with dipping sauce of olive oil and fresh minced garlic was also served. I could make a meal on just that it was so good. My dining partner enjoyed her chicken marsala but felt the sauce was a bit watery for her taste. I had to agree but otherwise the pasta cooked perfectly, and the chicken was tender and most. My stuffed shells took me back to when my mother made them and my reaction them was, these are better than mine. While 4 may not seem like much, I could only eat 2.
For dessert we choose the Affogato, which is vanilla ice cream that is served with expresso. They pour a demitasse cup of espresso over the ice cream. It was heavenly!!!!
Donato’s is certainly a restaurant you will want to add to your list. It is well worth the trip in you do not live in Port Charlotte. Donato’s Italian Restaurant is located at 1900 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL 33948 in the Lowe’s Shopping Center, to the left of Lowe’s.
Overall rating: Awesomely Delicious