I love pie. Pretty much any kind – pizza pies rich with cheese and zesty sauce; sweet pies with tender crusts and fruity fillings; savory breakfast pies, thick with egg and cheese and sausage.
So it’s a bit of a no-brainer that my favorite dish at Antonio’s Italian Eatery would be pie, but maybe not the kind you might think.
My husband, Sean, and I had spent a cold Saturday morning at Riverview Park in North Augusta and were in need of some warmth and hearty food. Antonio’s, with its cheerful striped awning, seemed to fit the bill.
The restaurant is nestled right in the center of Jackson Square in North Augusta, at the corner of Georgia and West Buena Vista avenues. The shopping center is tiny, but adorable, including a polka-dotted and monogrammed gift shop and a men’s barber/spa.
Inside, the restaurant is spacious and restful, with broad, tan floor tiles; gentle yellow walls with restrained Italian accents; and an undulating and hazy green mural of Italian hills along one long wall.
The broad menu features a wide variety of familiar Italian dishes, including appetizers of breadsticks and dipping sauce, in addition to meatballs and cheese; antipasto and Greek salads; calzones; Italian-inspired subs; pasta dinners; and, of course, pizzas.
A lunch menu of simple pastas and Italian bread (with selections averaging around $6) is offered Monday through Friday; and desserts and party trays are also available.
Sean jumped on the pizza, which he promised we could share. With his choice of sausage and mushroom, I decided to go with something more vegetable-based. So when I spotted the eggplant parmesan sub (who doesn’t love eggplant when it’s coated in breading and cheese?), I decided it was unique, and vegetable enough, to be my choice.
Sean’s slice was a thick and hearty rectangle layered with cheese, crumbled sausage and slices of fresh mushrooms. We shook on Parmesan and red pepper flakes – and pronounced the pizza a success. It was dense and chewy, with great savoriness from the sausage, sweetness from the cheese and just a bit of acid from the marinara.
My sub was served open-faced, to show off the melted cheese atop the slices of eggplant parm, with a pack of Ruffles chips on the side. The chips I put in my purse to save for a later lunch for Sean; and I folded my sandwich together to take a bite. The sub was hearty and filling – but I was a little disappointed that the eggplant didn’t have a lot of flavor and that the breading was limp, without the crispness that I had been looking forward to. A requested cup of the acidic marinara was swiftly brought and helped a little.
But I wasn’t going to end the meal there.
Early on, I’d glanced at the dessert menu, noticing a good selection of pies (pineapple cream, peanut butter or white chocolate), cheesecake and ice cream. But it was the homemade pie a la mode that I’d set my sights on.
The day’s specials were mixed berry and blackberry – and we ordered the latter, with two spoons.
The plate itself was gorgeous, the jewellike tones of the blackberry filling against the flaky yellow crust, with the slowly melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. And the first bite – amazing. This is what homemade pie should taste like. The crust was perfectly flaky, not too sweet, allowing the rich fruit filling to take center stage – and the warm pie was heightened even more by the ice cream.
Our waitress broke into a smile as she approached our table and we began gushing about the pie. “Yes, it’s homemade,” she said. “Our owner makes them.”
We scraped the plate clean, bellies full and warm – then headed back into the cold day.
Antonio’s meets the mark for its pizza pies – but you might find yourself coming back for more pie of a different kind.