Enza’s Italian Restaurant is true Sicilian family food
Italian food that is consistent but not-too-pricey is hard to come by in this city. That’s what makes the Mandarin staple, Enza’s Italian Restaurant, stand out – it is family-run, family-friendly, and reliably yummy.
Enza’s was opened in 2004 by Enza Teresi Huff and her husband Michael Huff, “to continue a long tradition of serving great food just the way Enza grew up.” Enza was born in Palermo, Sicily, and immigrated to America at the age of ten. Her family ran a bakery, and thus began her career in the restaurant business. Michael went to culinary school to aid in his wife’s dream of opening a warm, relaxing restaurant with Italian cuisine that is both traditional and innovative.
The Huff’s daughters and other family members work with them at the restaurant. That, plus the smart layout truly make it feel inviting. There are three distinct sections to the restaurant: for dining, for enjoying the bar and live music, and for special events and corporate parties.
On the evening Arbus visits, pianist Scott Giddens is performing in the bar room, creating a nice, warm, friendly atmosphere, but also one that can be separated by a wall in case conversation is the key to your enjoyment. We visit the large special events room where Enza’s holds regular cooking classes and which is also used for banquets, meetings, and the like. Once every month, or so, the special cooking classes offer everyone the opportunity to learn techniques, while watching on a large screen, so no matter where you are seated you can see the action, and then taste each course paired with different wines.
Then comes the meal: First, a new menu item is presented – an Osso Buco appetizer featuring two small veal shanks and house made tomato pasta with squash in a sweet tomato-based sauce.
Another of their most popular menu items (recipe featured here) is the Shrimp Alla Enza. Lots of shrimp, sausage and homemade spicy tomato sauce . . . spicy is optional!
Following the Osso Buco, we tried one of their daily special entrée offerings, Tenderloin Filet with Marsala Peppercorn Sauce. Both dishes showcase the restaurant’s hand-cut meats deliciously.
The spicy Fagioli Soup is refreshing in its bite, sharpened by the freshly-grated parmesan on top, and the Penne Caprese is a nice twist on traditional caprese salad – primarily tomatoes, olive oil, basil and mozzarella, – here, tossed with small pennette pasta. Another penne dish on the menu, Penne Ryan, creatively combines the pasta with pine nuts, spinach, garlic, sundried tomatoes and a touch of marinara.
We’re told the three Italian staples, Veal Saltimbocca, Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan, are all-time restaurant favorites, with the Huffs touting their chicken parm as “the juiciest in town.” While they nail the classics, the menu also shows innovation, with dishes like Seafood Lasagna, where pasta is layered with shrimp, scallops, imitation crabmeat, vegetables, mozzarella and a white cream sauce. They’re also attentive to dining trends – no need to special order if one is avoiding pasta as entrées like the Meatball & Sausage Platter, served with multi-colored peppers and onion in tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, are on the menu in the Low Carb Dinners section.
This is true Sicilan dining that caters to today’s tastes and is inviting to all palates. Enza’s is easy to love. Apparently many others also think so, as it was recently rated Best Italian Restaurant by the Florida Times Union. It seems to be a place where “Everyone knows your name.”
Tuesday thru Thursday, 4–9:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 4–10 p.m.
Sunday, 4–9:30 p.m.Monday, Closed
Happy Hour (Tues.–Thur.), 4–7 p.m.
Enza’s Italian Restaurant,
10601 San Jose Boulevard, Suite 109,
(904) 268-4458, enzas.net.
Pair it with:
Travaglini Gattinara 2010
Tasting notes: Aromas of red fruit, blackberry, plum and licorice with hints of vanilla and leather. Full-bodied, with intense flavors of cherry, raspberry and spice smooth finish.
About: Travaglini is a family-owned wine estate in the tiny Gattinara appellation within North Italy’s renowned Piedmont region. Established in the 1920s by Clemente Travaglini, the winery is Gattinara’s most esteemed producer of the traditional, limited-production wines from the nebbiolo grape (known locally as spanna). The family’s passion for winemaking has not diminished through the generations; Cinzia Travaglini, a great-granddaughter of Clemente, manages day-to-day operations at the winery. Her husband, Massimo Collauto, is chief winemaker, a role he inherited from his late father-in-law and mentor, Giancarlo Travaglini (winemaker at Travaglini for 45 years). Travaglini wines are easily recognized by their distinctive bottle shape, featuring a unique curve that fits naturally in the palm of the hand and serves to catch sediment during decanting. Specially designed to celebrate Travaglini’s excellent 1952 vintage, this bottle was so well received that the family decided to keep it as their trademark.