January 6, 2006
of a ‘devoted following’
We first visited Avelluto’s Italian Delight, 6522 Martway, Mission, KS, on a Sunday evening. We entered the spacious deli, decorated with wall-spanning murals of Italy and occasional standing sculptures reminiscent of Renaissance art, and wondered how to order our food.
There was a menu on the wall, and a register at the end of what looked like cafeteria rails to support customer trays. A sign told us to pay at the register, but our food would be delivered to the table. Our table lacked salt or pepper, and silverware bins flanked the serve-yourself drink machine.
Salads, soups and main dishes arrived almost simultaneously. Each of us received two slices of bread wrapped in a napkin, with two pats of butter. The core was soft and the crust had a slight crunch. But I would have preferred that it arrive on a plate, warm and/or seasoned.
I enjoyed my Health Salad ($1.70), which featured loads of tomato chunks, plus cucumber chunks, topped with a zingy Italian dressing. A bigger bowl would have prevented random chunks from falling on the table when I speared others.
The House Salad ($1.95) combined romaine and iceberg lettuce, and tomato chunks, plus the onion Mark asked for and minus the artichoke hearts he also requested. The vinaigrette had minimal flavor.
Wedding Soup ($4.95) was a better choice. Eight savory meatballs accompanied crisp-tender julienne slices of carrot and celery. A small string of mozzarella swam in the clear broth. Some oregano and/or basil would enhance the flavor.
My Sicilian Pizza ($3.35) sported a one-inch-tall, soft crust with crunchy edges, sweet, smooth marinara, plenty of onion, mushroom and black olive slices, and a generous topping of melted cheese. Another option is the Neapolitan or thin crust cheese pizza, on which customers can load toppings for 40 cents extra per topping. Additional choices include pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, ground beef, tomato and onion.
Jessica’s Stromboli ($4.25) was an eight-inch-long flaky pastry packed with mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni and cheese, atop a marinara pool. Sausage seasonings added some culinary punch. Mark’s Veal Parmigiano ($6.85) presented two large pieces of tender, lightly breaded veal, swimming in marinara and topped with melted mozzarella. Spaghetti to accompany the veal cost $2.50 extra.
During a chilly Wednesday lunch hour, I joined businesspeople, maintenance workers, senior citizens and students who filled half of the dining room. After more than 20 years in operation at the same location, this place has obviously developed a devoted following.
“How is it that a guy who has lived in this city for so long has never been here before?” said one patron to a lunch companion, as the foursome savored their fresh pasta.
This time, there was salt, pepper and Parmesan on the table. The vinaigrette on my house salad had plenty of seasoning, sesame seeds dusted the bread crust, and my steaming plate arrived quickly. Mild ricotta dotted with bits of green onion filled eight firm pasta pillows on my Ravioli Plate (cheese, $6.10; also available with meat). Marinara covered them all.
I also ordered a Prosciutto Ball ($1.15 for 1 or 3 for $3.10) from the “Glutinous Bites” portion of the menu. Salty Prosciutto flavor shone through the mellow cheese filling in this two-inch ball that featured a tender, soft breading.
I took Tiramisu ($5.45) and a small container of cookies ($3.15) home for snacking. At nearly two inches tall, the tiramisu featured twin layers of ultra-moist, Amaretto- and espresso-soaked lady fingers interspersed with an airy mixture of mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and egg. A generous dusting of cocoa powder topped this marvelous family recipe.
Cookie selections change frequently. My package featured dense, chewy sugar cookies topped with pine nuts or maraschino cherries, buttery “fingers” and swirls of soft dough topped with chocolate chips or dipped in rich dark chocolate. The selection also included a tiny stack of multi-colored cake layers with marzipan in-between and dark chocolate that coated the top and bottom, and a fig-filled cookie decorated with colored sprinkles.
Avelluto’s Italian Delight creates mouthwatering desserts and stomach-satisfying pastas and pizzas. Consistent service throughout the week would promote customer satisfaction no matter when they visit.
Lisa Waterman Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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