Riganato Old World Grille is perched on the eastern entrance to Geneva on Route 38, in a house converted into an inviting, family-owned restaurant, where service and hospitality are watchwords.
Landscaping touches, flowering baskets, a red-tiled roof and newly expanded parking set an inviting stage for this Mediterranean destination open daily for lunch and dinner. We settled in on the patio, where our terrific server filled us in on the day’s specials. Indoors, you’ll spot the board listing them when you enter.
We appreciated such special touches as linen napkins, and a serving staff that kept water refilled and checked on us throughout the meal, which began with a warm loaf of Italian bread.
Friends recommended the calamari, and we found two options on the menu, one spicy version, and our pick, the straightforward fried calamari. A delicate, light breading complemented the flavor of the beautifully prepared seafood. The generous appetizer would be ample for more than two people, and was a delicious starter, accompanied by both a cocktail sauce and a marvelous house aioli.
As we nibbled, we noticed a stream of takeout patrons, carrying home dinners to go, with lots of boxes of pizza among them. We’ve enjoyed the pizza on past visits, including a very good gluten-free-crust option. The website offers an expansive menu of all its gluten-free dishes.
I was torn between the day’s special, shrimp and calamari with angel hair pasta, and the pizza, but selected the Lake Superior Whitefish. The broiled fish was prepared with flavorful sauteed mushrooms, giant capers, lemon and wine. A large tasty shrimp topped the dish. A luscious accompaniment was the potato side of smashed garlic baby reds.
My dining companion chose the small portion size of the Flat Iron Steak, featuring Black Angus beef with Riganato’s house rub. His side was a rainbow of vegetables bright with fresh flavors
“There was a nice char on the steak, which paired perfectly with the herb-roasted vegetables,” he said.
The menu tempts with a variety of dishes, including a sandwich starring two of the restaurant’s signature, homemade ricotta-stuffed meatballs. There are inventive salads, burgers, kebobs, panini, pasta dishes and everything from Papa Nick’s slow-roasted half chicken to lamb chops.
A blackboard inside the restaurant listed lunch specials served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It offered everything from chicken, lamb and pork dishes to fish, steak salad and pasta options.
Parking is ample in the expanded lot, but additional spaces are offered across the street after 5 p.m. at Geneva Firewood.
We lingered over the meal, determined to leave room for dessert next time. This year marks the restaurant’s 10th anniversary.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Riganato Old World Grille
WHERE: 700 E. State St., Geneva