With its dim interior illuminated by chandeliers, white tablecloths, mirrors at every turn, and wallpaper splashed with big white flowers, Angelo's Northwood Villa is a supper club, the likes of which were popular from perhaps the 1930s to 1970s. It has not succumbed to 21st century fashion and trend; therein lies its unique charm and, for the most part, its clientele. In my book, that's a good thing. Diversity, different strokes, and all that.
Features include steak, prime rib, seafood, surf and turf, veal, frog legs, perch, chicken, and pasta; cocktails and an extensive wine list; crazy-rich desserts, and a pianist on Friday and Saturday nights. Sauces and soups are made in this locally owned (Angelo Tsipis) kitchen, where steaks are hand cut and there are specials on weekends. Here one lingers over a meal of substantial portion, conversing or celebrating a special or romantic occasion.
It is not, however, a haven for vegetarians (though the kitchen would probably saute up a veggie-pasta plate), or smokers (despite what the outdated Web site says). And while there is a menu for those 12 and younger ($5.95 to $8.95, no refills on pop), the villa's focus is grown ups who brought their appetites.
ANGELO'S NORTHWOOD VILLA * * * *
Address: 6630 South Dixie Hwy., Erie.
Category: Dress up.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $$$. Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: angelosnorthwoodvilla.com.
Ratings: * * * * * Outstanding; * * * * Very Good; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants.
The Blade pays for critics' meals.
A special menu on a recent Saturday night offered a half-carafe of house sangria ($14, about four glasses) made with red wine, flavored vodkas, and fruit) that was just what the doctor ordered after a day of yard work. The special appetizer, home-made grape leaves ($7.95, there were six) with a lemony butter sauce, was terrific. In addition to the bread basket, there's the signature bread topped with a hot cheese-onion mixture, one scrumptious bite-sized piece for each diner. (It seems a bit odd until you learn that it's a nostalgic tribute to the late Gen Dokurno, a beloved food impresario who owned both the Northwood Villa and the former Northwood Inn in North Toledo.)
Fresh flounder ($23.95), a special that evening, was delicious, served with two sauteed shrimp in a brown lemon butter sauce with shiitake mushrooms that my companion found a tad too salty. Zucchini and yellow squash had just enough crunch to prove it was fresh. Dinner salads had a variety of greens and crumbles of blue cheese in addition to the dressing.
Broiled sea scallops ($19.95) with mushrooms was in the same sauce as the flounder, and my other companion liked it but thought it nearly overpowered the mild mollusk. It was, like everything served, piping hot.
Gamberoni portofino ($21.95) featured four firm jumbo shrimp sauteed in garlic butter on a hillock of pasta dressed with fresh tomatoes, marinara, mushrooms, wine, fresh basil, and pesto, though the latter two ingredients were indiscernible to my eye and palate. For the price, I'd liked to have seen another couple of shrimp. After it had chilled in the fridge overnight, my doggie-bag portion confirmed that there was indeed more oil to this dish than necessary.
A three-layered slice of chocolate mousse cake ($5.25), perfect for our trio, was a fine finale.
On another day, we loved the crispy calamari (squid) fritti appetizer ($7.95) with tasty marinara for dipping.
Nine ounces of filet mignon ($23.95) were excellent in the chef's signature steak sauce (hints of garlic, parsley, and lemon).
The deliciously gooey pasta sampler ($15.95) included lasagna, manicotti, and ravioli.
A couple of dessert treats we'd give thumbs up to: the Godiva chocolate martini ($7.25 and excellent presentation) and a lemon cake.
The lunch menu offers smaller portions of many dinner entrees, including frog legs and perch, in the $9 to $17 range; pastas from $8 to $13, and sandwiches and salads from $6 to $9.
Service: Good, with two exceptions: our bread basket was prematurely removed, and our beverage order was delivered as we were finishing dinner, about 15 minutes after it had been placed.
Birthday alert: You can get up to $20 off your entree on your birth anniversary. You'll be asked to show your driver's license, purchase a beverage, and bring someone along who will pay full freight for his or her share.
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