Quick Bites: This Red Sauce Joint Is Jumpin’

We’ve all heard the term New York pizza or New York-style Chinese here in Florida. But real New Yorkers are familiar with another term—red sauce joints. That’s how partners Rick Dadeo and Danny Petrosino came up with the name for their first restaurant together at Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages.

“It’s our way of paying respect to the restaurants we grew up with,” says Dadeo. “We’re hitting our market of people that are familiar with red sauce dining, which is not only nostalgic to them but an option that’s hard to find in the South.”

The pair started out about 27 years ago when Dadeo was a dishwasher and Petrosino, 10 years his senior, a chef in upstate New York. Both owned restaurants individually before partnering to open Red Sauce.

Inside, Red Sauce has a masculine feel with dark cherry accents. The walls are fresco-textured, and pendant lighting and a wall rack of wines add elegance to the space. A horseshoe bar is in one corner of the restaurant, and on this particular evening, nearly every seat was taken.

Our server, Jon Scheihing, did an excellent job of taking care of my guests and me, starting us off with calamari, Clams Casino, and an artichoke spinach appetizer served with grilled Italian bread. The calamari was unbelievably tender because, Jon told us, it was soaked in buttermilk first. Mustard sauce and roasted tomato dip were an added accent.

The Chopped Antipasto salad was huge, and we could not believe it was a regular serving for one.

Our entrées included Shrimp Genovese with huge, tender shrimp in what tasted much like a Marsala sauce. The Chianti Braised Beef, tender enough to cut with a fork and served over mashed potatoes, was my guests’ favorite. The Eggplant Parmigiano was deliciously cheesy.

With eight delectable desserts to choose from, Dadeo and Petrosine suggested the Chocolate Flourless Cake, which was very dense and only meant for chocoholics. The cheesecake was a heavy New York-style with a hint of lemon, and the Butterscotch Panna Cotta is a must for all to try.

The pricing at Red Sauce is very reasonable for the quality and quantity of food you are served. I suggest you pack up half before you eat, save room for dessert, and take the rest home for the next day. For reservations and hours, call (352) 750-2930.

I found a gem of another eatery in Historic Tavares called Pressed For Time Café. Just off Main Street on S. New Hampshire Avenue, it overlooks Wooten Park and Lake Dora.

Owners Mike and Lori Nathanson work with other family members to feature some of the biggest salads and sandwiches. Cuban delicacies are featured, and on my visit, I had a Chicken Empanada made with a delicious flaky dough.

Enjoy any one of the almost 30 choices of sandwiches, soups, black beans and rice, and salads for lunch. Dinners include Yuca, Picadillo, and spaghetti and meatballs, among others.

“We prepare everything like you would at home,” Mike says. “The chicken salad is from a fresh roasted chicken, not a can.”

Mike bakes the pastries, including the Guava and Cheese Turnover, while Lori is responsible for the dark, moist brownies. Individual slices of rich chocolate cake, muffins, and cookies are offered, too. Call (352) 253-4663 for hours and delivery details.

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