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For the best “Mom n’ Pop” Italian dining in Kingsport, it’s Italiano’s

Mystery Diner • Oct 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Just before the Retiree, the Dieter and the Carnivore left for a week at the beach, the Retiree called my dining partner and let her know that a really great “Mom n’ Pop”-style Italian restaurant named Italiano’s had opened recently in Kingsport. Our friend suggested the two of us check it out as a possible location for our three friends’ “Welcome Home” party. So we did.

Italiano’s is easily located in Kingsport by traveling Riverport Road or Netherland Inn Road to the Ridgefields Drive bridge over the Holston River. Turning left, you’ll travel about a half-mile and find Italiano’s on the left. The restaurant has ample parking for both dine-in and take-out customers.

At present, most of their business is take-out, though they do have a cozy well-appointed dining area with room for 20 patrons at five tables. The take-out & cashier station is just inside the door, while the unisex restroom can be found in the back next to the stockroom.

Due to the hard work provided by owners Gamel and Tanya Nassr, Italiano’s has been open just over three months. During that time, it has gained a loyal clientele. When my dining partner and I arrived we were greeted by the very friendly and personable Tanya Nassr, who showed us to our table. After taking our drinks orders, Tanya was very helpful answering questions about menu offerings.

Lasagna with Meat and garden salad: Italiano’s is very like the neighborhood Italian restaurant of my youth growing up north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Everybody in the neighborhood knew the family that owned Maria’s; that Maria treated her customers like family, and her employees like the rowing crew from “Ben Hur.” My favorite entrée was Maria’s signature lasagna with meat. Maria was unsurpassed in producing an exceptional lasagna, and didn’t forget the necessary crunchy-soft Italian bread that went with it.

After Tanya answered my questions about Italiano’s lasagna, I placed my order ($8.99) together with an Italiano’s garden salad ($3.99). Tanya had my entrée and salad in front of me after a 15-minute wait. The salad was great. The lasagna? Let’s just say that I have finally had lasagna with meat as it is supposed to be prepared.

First, the beef used is fresh and was chopped rather than ground up, yielding a fuller, meatier flavor and texture. The beef and the (ricotta?) cheese was layered between lasagna noodles along with Italiano’s house marinara sauce.

It is then topped with aged mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly. After being removed from the oven, the noodles finish cooking in their serving dish just as it is served to me. All of Italiano’s lasagna with meat was positively scrumptious. Not wanting to leave a morsel of this perfection on my plate, I even sopped up the extra marinara sauce with a scarpetti (Italian for “little shoe”) of Italiano’s fresh-baked Italian bread.

Deluxe Cheesesteak Calzone: While I was gobbling up my lasagna, my dining partner was dining with refinement upon her Deluxe Cheesesteak Calzone ($7.99). Earlier, as my partner asked Tanya about Italiano’s calzones, Tanya stated that Gamel was at that moment working the dough, which convinced my dining partner that the calzone was what she wanted.

Tanya brought the calzone out along with a medium-sized ramekin of the house marinara for dipping. An Italiano’s calzone is diamond-shaped rather than the usual crescent. This insures that the lean, sliced flank steak, chopped green peppers, onions and sliced mushrooms fill every square inch on the inside of the calzone’s fresh-made pizza dough.

My dining partner very pleased with her steak calzone, remarking on how delicately the calzone was spiced, with a mix of ground black pepper, oregano and garlic that added to rather than overwhelmed the ingredients. A word of advice: A calzone from Italiano’s is substantial in size and contents, so either come hungry, share it with your fellow diners or ask for a take-home box. My dining partner made new friends in choosing the second option.

The bottom line: As I was settling up, Tanya told me that Italiano’’s does catering along with their take-out and in-house dining. With the Eastman Chemical facility just next door to them, I told Tanya that the managers and employees of “The Eastman” might want to know there was a new Italian restaurant in town.

My dining partner said that, given Italiano’s proximity to the nearby Ridgefields community, that shouldn’t take long at all. And for the rest of us lovers of all things Italian, stop by Italiano’s as soon as you can. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Recommended by the Mystery Diner.

Italiano’s

447 Ridgefields Road

Kingsport

765-1272 or 765-1277

Daily 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Dine-in, carry-out and catering available

Accessible via Facebook & social media

Credit cards accepted

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