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Homestyle flair from the Immediato family to your family


By Eric Ruth • The News Journal • November 5, 2009

Back in the day, long before chain dining captured our tastes, dining out meant dinner at a place that was family-owned, family-friendly and probably had more than a few members of the owner's extended family helping behind the scenes.

There's the owner's wife, handling hostess duties and whatever else came along. There's his brother and father, chipping in with baked delights perfected over generations. The waitress may be an aunt, the sous chef a cousin and the character of the restaurant is fulfilled and shaped by the personalities of them all.

Welcome to Immediato's Bistro, where an almost legendary Delaware restaurant story continues in the hands of young Tony Immediato, grandson of one of the Three Little Bakers of the local dinner-and-a-show dynasty. Stop by his neat and pleasant downtown Middletown spot, and it becomes clear the Three Little Bakers live on in a way -- in the delightful pastries prepared by Tony's dad and brother; in the home-crafted Italian classics Tony churns out from the kitchen.

The Bistro is a relatively new progression in Tony Immediato's dream of delivering casual-but-classy dining, a result of property becoming available next door to his tiny sub shop, known locally for dead-on Delaware sandwich execution. At the Bistro, things are far more proper, yet still relaxed and friendly, relying on comforting standards and fair prices to please.

There's a homestyle flair to Immediato's broadly appealing specialties, ranging from fresh-and-fulfilling antipasto platter of sharp provolone, prosciutto, olives, roasted bell peppers and artichokes ($14.95 for a platter big enough for four); to a robust bowl of garlic-smacked mussels in red sauce ($9.95); to irresistible calamari with marinara sauce ($6.95); and a just-crunchy, garlic-drenched bowl of broccoli rabe ($9.95).

That house-crafted honesty continues in his creamy soups, and gives integrity to his generously portioned entrees. Farfalle Immediato is a rare and stunning example of a nicely executed cream-fortified pasta dish, full of bow tie pasta, cheesy character, fresh peas and just-salty prosciutto ($13.95). Chicken alla Tony ($21.95) heeds local tastes but honors a refined edge, topping the tender cutlets with a pile of sweet crab meat and stalks of fresh-cooked asparagus.

When the allure slips, it's usually the simple-to-fix failure of overly cautious seasoning or wobbly flavor balance. Mediterranean tortellini ($13.95) allows overly tart edge of artichokes to overwhelm earthier flavors of olives and roasted peppers. Tony's veal marsala ($16.95) embraces the tender, saucy and generous nature of the dish nicely, but needs a counter to the too-tart edge of wine.

Luckily, issues of harmony and balance are among the easiest for a cook to resolve, especially when the cook's as earnest and proud as Tony Immediato. That commitment to customer satisfaction that seems to run through the family -- just witness the devastating desserts crafted by brother Vinnie and dad Ronnie, tempting diners maddeningly from a cooler case right in the middle of things.
If such temptations prove too much, ask Tony's wife Jennifer to seat you at a safe distance. Wherever you sit, they'll make you feel like you belong.

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Immediato's Italian Specialties - 39 West Main Street , Middletown DE. 19709 - 302.378.8326

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