Angelina’s: Great Pizza, But Not Much Else

Simon Stracher

Sometimes it’s best to stick with the basics. This is especially the case with the Angelina’s Trattoria. When Angelina’s Trattoria, a family favorite inWestport, focuses on kid-friendly menu items like pizza, the results are delicious and excellent. However, when Angelina’s tries to cook fancy things, the price skyrockets and things can get a little ugly.  Case in point: the Fried Calamari entree, which at $16.50 is not a bargain.

Angelina’s is a family-owned Italian Restaurant that is located on 1092 Post Road East. It has been in business for 21 years, and caters toward families or people who just like pizza. When you walk in the door, you get the feeling that Angelina’s has been there forever, despite its location in a strip-mall on the Post Road.  What gives it that timeless, “Old World” feeling is a wait staff skilled at making every customer feel right at home.

The menu at Angelina’s is extensive but not adventurous.  Many of the items, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce and baked ziti, are undoubtedly featured in many Italian-American restaurants, and that’s something of a disappointment in a town only an hour from New York, the culinary capital of the United States.  A restaurant-goer could hope for more cutting edge Italian cuisine, but they can hope all they want: they won’t get it at Angelina’s.  What they will get is a solid list of choices, most of which are passably good and only a few of which are a bit wretched. 

Angelina’s offers an array of appetizers, including Mozzarella Sticks for $4.95, Baked Clams for $6.50, and Shrimp Cocktail for $6.95. All of these appetizers are perfectly fine but not excellent. The Fried Calamari Appetizer is more reasonably priced at $7.75 than its entrée brother and is the exception to the rule of mediocre appetizers: the Calamari is moist, and the breading is well seasoned and crunchy.

Angelina’s offers several pasta dishes.  Those that are made simply, with one or two ingredients, are the best.  The spaghetti with a tomato sauce, long an American classic, is excellent here with simple yet fresh flavors.  The ziti with a mushroom sauce is also outstanding, with a mushroom flavor not overwhelmed in the creamy sauce.  But Angelina’s goes off track when it makes pastas that are a little more complex.  The Gnocchi with tomato sauce for $9.25 is overcooked and soggy.  The Penne with Vodka Sauce, at $9.95 is too salty, and the Clam Linguine tastes as if the clams had been scooped straight out of a can.

Sadly, the chicken, seafood, and veal dishes at Angelina’s are not much better. Just like the many of the pasta dishes, most of the dishes suffer from over-seasoning and overcooking.  A recent sampling of the chicken cacciatore ($14.50) was unimpressive—the chicken was tough and the sauce was uninspired.  The Fra Diavolo (between $16.50 and $17.95) dishes at Angelina’s can be tasty, although they lean towards too much heat in the sauce.  The chef does seem to have better luck with veal dishes.  An order of Angel Eno’s special veal eggplant parmigiana ($15.50) was superb: the sauce was a blend of tomato, spices, and cheese and the veal that was perfectly done, complemented by a better-than-average eggplant.

Where Angelina’s really shines is their pizza. Every single pizza on the menu is fantastic and will not let you down. Angelina’s has over 20 different pizza styles to choose from, and my personal favorite is the bacon pizza. Even though the bacon is more like bacon bits, this pizza is just a work of art and will leave you satisfied every single time. If you’re not a bacon person, I recommend the olive, cheese, mushroom, or meatball pizzas. All of the pizzas on the menu are priced between $8.75 to $12.95, making it a much better bargain than the rest of the entrees.

If you’re in the mood for family-style Italian dining with great pizza, Angelina’s is your best bet. Avant-garde, it’s not, but then again, who ever wanted a sausage pizza to be haute cuisine?