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Thursday, October 11, 2012
The small dining space at Toscana Italiano’s in Radford provides no clue that the menu is so extensive, but the fleet of delivery vehicles outside hints at how much business owner Rashid Aithammou does. We heard about Toscana from an officer of the Radford University Police Department and figured if he and his colleagues liked it, it must be worth a try.
The menu features a variety of items, and many are not particularly Italian. It includes appetizers, wings, salads, burgers, calzones, sandwiches, gyros, pizza and pasta. Everything is made to order, with sauces made in-house. A prime example is the thick tomato sauce, which is savory instead of sweet and has a nice tomato zing.
We have tried bruschetta at many places, but this was the first time it was served deconstructed. At $5.49, it included toasted bread arranged around a dish of balsamic vinegar and oil, with a separate bowl of diced tomatoes with garlic and basil. The bread was toasted just right, the dipping sauce had the perfect combination of tartness and sweetness, and the diced tomatoes were fresh and well-seasoned. The trick was figuring out how to put it all together, but it was fun to dip and spread and munch.
The homemade lasagna ($8.99) was served drenched in the tasty tomato sauce and covered with cheese. The presentation would have been better with less sauce, which would have allowed the stacked-high lasagna to be the hero on the plate. The tomato sauce also appears on the eggplant Parmigiana ($8.99), but unfortunately it made the coating on the eggplant soggy and not very palatable. Placed side by side, it was hard to tell which dish was which because they were both engulfed in sauce. The garlic bread served with both dishes was perfect for sopping up the excess sauce.
The back of the menu boasts about the shrimp scampi ($9.99). It was served as a bowl of linguine with only a few shrimp scattered about in a thin white sauce of butter and olive oil. The sauce was not thick enough to stick to the pasta, and the shrimp were bland.
Stopping by for lunch, we ordered an 8-inch cheese steak special ($5.50) and a small white pizza ($7.99). The cheese steak special made us happy because the steak was tender and well-seasoned, and the bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The cheese flowed over the onions and mushrooms, creating a juicy handful of goodness.
We also enjoyed the white pizza. The combination of cheeses was to our liking, and the crust had a good flavor and texture.
On another lunch trip, we ventured away from the Italian fare and enjoyed a Louisiana burger ($6.99). The half-pound burger topped with provolone cheese, mushrooms, onions and blue cheese dressing made our tastebuds dance. The steak gyro ($5.99) featured a homemade cucumber sauce in a soft pita. The steak melted in our mouths, and the cucumber sauce had a wonderful, fresh flavor.
The service was very good each time we dined at this restaurant. Our waitress was very pleasant and helpful, and she remembered us each time we came in.
Based on our visits to Toscana Italiano’s in Radford, we now know why the place is so popular.