For our anniversary last May (our 10th!), Cindy and I went back to Cincinnati to spend a little more time there than we did on our last visit. On our anniversary, we went to a little romantic Italian restaurant in downtown Cincinnati called Scotti's.
Scotti's is run by a couple brothers and their sister - the DiMarco's - who are the fourth generation of the Scoleri family who first opened Scotti's in 1912. One brother, Marco, makes all the desserts; the other brother, Pat, is the chef; the sister, Rina, runs the business end of the place. They all three wait tables. It's pretty cool.
Pat DiMarco told us how Scotti's got its name. He said that years ago Italian restaurants were named after famous Italians or after Italian operas. Nearly 100 years ago, his great grandfather Salvatore Scoleri owned a restaurant in Philadelphia called "The European Restaurant". He encountered a somewhat famous opera singer of the day, Antonio Scotti, and they became friends. When Salvatore moved to Cincinnati to open up a new restaurant in 1912, he asked Mr. Scotti if he could name the place after him. Mr. Scotti obliged and Scotti's was born in Cincinnati.
Scotti's is not very big inside, heavy on the mish-mashed tile on the floor and walls. And, of course, the tables are topped with red and white checkered table cloths and candles with old Chianti bottles as holders with large build ups of multi-colored candle wax drippings on the sides. There are hundreds of old Chianti bottles hanging from the walls and ceiling. The light fixtures are old wine bottles that have been heated and reshaped into weird designs and have a light in placed in them. The wine bottle/lampshade that was over the steps on the way down to the bathroom had broken and it was almost too bright in there thanks to that one light. The atmosphere of Scotti's was helped by the recordings of Italian operas they piped into the dining area.
The food was very good - not the best Italian that I've ever had, but it was very good, nonetheless. You could tell that it was made from scratch and had that kind of homemade feel to the food. I had the veal marsala - I've had better, but it was still good. The pieces of veal were tender and cooked perfectly. I also had a side of fettucine alfredo just to get an idea of how their white sauce was. It was heavy on the garlic, just the way I like.
I can't remember what Cindy had, I think it was also a veal dish with a side of pasta. But I know she enjoyed it, too.
The wine selection at Scotti's is not much at all. I think we got a bottle of the only chardonnay they had on the menu - about $23 bucks for the wine. It was drinkable and went well with the meal.
I like places like Scotti's - small, not busy through the week, good food, good history behind the place. Pat was telling us as we were eating our tiramisu and canoli that they really have five generations now at Scotti's. His kids and his sibling's kids come in to help out during the weekends when it gets busy. Pat said, "And if you count my great-great grandmother who came here with my great-grandfather when he moved to Cincinnati in the early 19-teens, and who helped him out from time to time here at the restaurant, we've had six generations of Scolari's and DiMarco's working here."
Parking is on the street or at parking ramps nearby. They take reservations, but I was told you don't really need 'em through the week. They take most major credit cards. Scotti's is a neat place to try and one that I hope to get back to someday.