Squisito Pasta Blitz offers Italian with a family focus

Traditional favorites, specialties, group meals offered in casual setting

Restaurant profile

March 29, 2001|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Diners at Squisito Pasta Blitz in Clarksville will find pasta, pizza, calzones, chicken and veal dishes served in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. For the owners of the restaurant, the emphasis is on family.

"We want to make the family really comfortable in our place," said Ginnaro Di Benedetto, who is co-owner of Squisito Pasta Blitz, as well as three other Italian restaurants in Maryland, with his cousins - Carmelo Di Meo, Ginnaro Di Meo, Luigi Coppola and Gino Palma. The five men immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy, 15 years ago.

"All my family was always in the restaurant business in Italy," Di Benedetto said.

"We grew up in the restaurant. We went to school together, and since we were little kids, we dreamed of owning a restaurant together. Our dream came true. We all work together," he said. "Even outside the restaurant, we're always together. It's not just about business. It's about family."

The restaurant opened Dec. 29 in the Clarksville Square shopping center on Route 108. "We liked the location and the neighborhood. We thought our concept would be successful here," Di Benedetto said. In fact eat-in and carry-out business has been so good, "I wish we had a bigger place," he added. The partners are looking to open another restaurant in Columbia.

The Clarksville restaurant seats 85. The interior is painted a warm apricot color, with wood accents in teal and burgundy. Italian-themed artwork hangs on the walls. Diners seat themselves at tables or booths and place their orders at the counter.

The extensive menu includes antipasti such as fried calamari and Antipasto Italiano - a variety of cured Italian meats, cheeses and fresh roasted and marinated vegetables. Guests have a choice of the house, Caesar or Greek salads. The Greek salad includes a generous portion of romaine lettuce, Greek olives, jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, onions and lots of feta cheese.

Diners have their pick of nine varieties of panini and four different kinds of calzones.

Pasta lovers will have to decide between dishes made with fettuccine, spaghetti, tortellini, fusilli, gnocchi and linguini and may choose sauces with meat or seafood. Healthy gourmet pasta dishes are made with no butter and, like all other pasta dishes at the restaurant, are made with De Cecco brand pasta, a cholesterol-free pasta that Di Benedetto said is the No. 1 brand in Italy.

The menu has four chicken dishes, including Chicken Principessa, a chicken breast topped with crab meat, Fontina cheese and roasted red peppers in a garlic and lemon white sauce for $7.95 at lunch and $12.95 at dinner. Veal dishes include the traditional parmigiana, piccata and marsala, as well as Veal Chesapeake - veal scallopini sauteed with mushrooms in a creamy rose sauce topped with jumbo lump crab meat.

Pizza is available in New York or Sicilian styles, and there are plenty of exotic toppings available from the list of gourmet pizzas. For example, the asparagus pizza is a white sauce pizza topped with asparagus, prosciutto, tomatoes, mushrooms, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, garlic and basil; it's priced at $14.95 for a 16-inch pie and $13.95 for a 14-inch pie.

The restaurant offers complete family dinners for families of two, four or six. A group of four may choose from 15 entrees, such as shrimp scampi, served with pasta, house salad and garlic bread for $38.95. A children's menu also is available.

Squisito Pasta Blitz

Where: 5805 Route 108, Clarksville; 443-535-9777

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Prices: Appetizers: $1.50 to $7.95; entrees: $5.45 to$16.95.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express

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