A delectable mix of regional Italian fare in Batavia
Pollo Palermitana in Vestito di Prosciutto
Photo courtesy of Gaetano's
Gaetano’s Italian restaurant is one of those rare eateries where one could randomly toss a dart at its menu and come up a winner. Every time.
That speaks volumes about the quality of fare offered at this popular restaurant in the heart of Batavia.
Opened in 2014, the place is owned by Wendy DiBenedetto and her husband, Executive Chef Gaetano DiBenedetto, who grew up near Palermo, Sicily. The couple also continue to run their flagship restaurant in Forest Park, which debuted in 2008.
Both Gaetano’s locations are known for their delectable mix of regional Italian cuisine. Shipments of meat, vegetables and never-frozen seafood arrive daily.
A recent dinner at the Batavia location began with a complimentary amuse — narrow strips of tomato-topped flatbread and a tasty hummus-like dip made with puréed garbanzos and Parmesan cheese.
Nine different antipastos tempted, including two of the chef’s favorites —Crab Cake dei Cesari and Capesante al Cioccolato. The latter featured scallops dusted with cocoa powder, roasted in a wood-burning oven and served over king oyster mushrooms. (Note to self: try these dishes on a subsequent visit.)
Instead, give serious consideration to a lighter starter, the Carpaccio di Barbabietole. Diners in our party extolled the salad’s flavorful complexity — oven-roasted beets, thinly shaved and drizzled with champagne vinaigrette, paired with mache and topped with fried goat cheese.
Moving on to the main course, the veal scaloppine entrée presented a gustatory feast. The meat was pounded thin and sauteed with shallots, garlic, assorted wild mushrooms and a Marsala-white wine sauce. It was served over garlic mashed potatoes.
A fellow diner relished Gnocchi di Zucca — homemade butternut squash gnocchi tossed with beef short rib and wild mushroom ragout, accented with garlic and white wine sauce.
Among other options are risotto with mushrooms and assorted seafood including calamari, mussels, shrimp and scallops in a seasoned tomato stock.
Gaetano’s notes on its menu that only hormone-free Piedmontese beef is used. In addition, the beef is wet-aged for 21 days and then dry-aged for 10 to 14 days.
Desserts are hard to resist but worth the calories. You will like the selection, from tiramisu to limoncello — both made in house. Especially pleasing was Budino al Pistacchio, pistachio pudding with chocolate cookie crumbs. The confection came topped with caramel and a pinch or two of sea salt.
For those who have a hard time deciding what to order, three- and four-course Chef’s Choice family-style meals are available and can be personalized to one’s dietary requirements. Another option is to add coordinated wine tastings to go with the meal.
Diners can catch a glimpse of the restaurant’s impressive dome-shaped wood-burning oven, a workhorse in the open kitchen.
Gaetano’s offers its patrons a genteel space to enjoy a relaxing meal with friends and family. Impeccable service by a well-trained staff is another plus that brings customers back for more.
15 E. Wilson St., Batavia
Veal Scaloppine, Gnocci di Zucca and Capaccio di Barbabietole salad
Antipasti $11 to $15; pasta $15 to $26; meat $23 to $36
Mon-Thu 5 - 9:30 p.m; Fri -Sat - Sat 4:30 -10:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Reservations accepted. Seasonal outdoor patio. Private party space.
Second location at 7636 W. Madison Ave., Forest Park, IL