Most Richmonders probably wouldn’t look to the small Tuckahoe Shopping Center for a delicious and authentic Italian dinner, but at Angela’s, that is exactly what you will get. Settled between a 7-Eleven and Pleasants Hardware, Angela’s Ristorante & Pizzeria makes the most of its location and limited space. The restaurant has been family-run since 1984, and they have made a noticeable effort to maintain a comfortable family feel, while exceeding the standards of most upscale Italian restaurants. The interior includes a wall full of wine bottles to the right, artwork to the left, and view of the kitchen straight ahead, from which you can smell the fresh garlic and onion as the chef and his two sons prepare your food. The restaurant is always full of customers, yet rarely has a wait time of longer than five minutes. Though it can get busy at times, the atmosphere never feels too congested or loud.
In my latest visit, the food came relatively quickly, and the service was outstanding. Without being bothersome, the waitress returned several times to offer her assistance, and was genuinely cheerful throughout the night. This quick and friendly service added to the welcoming experience, which was topped off by the incredible quality of Italian food.
The menu is quite large and varied, including multiple dishes with veal or chicken, several pasta selections, as well as seafood and pizza options. I had the opportunity to try three of their main entrees: scallops Denise, grilled sea bass, and linguini ala Angela.
The scallops Denise, named after the chef’s wife and one of the restaurant’s popular seafood dishes, is served with linguini. The scallops were paired with mushrooms and sauteed in olive oil and garlic. For a type of seafood that can often be too tough, the scallops were perfectly tender and not too chewy. There was just the right amount of olive oil, balancing out the delicious wine sauce, which mixed perfectly with the tomatoes and mushrooms. The dish left me full, with plenty of food to spare.
The grilled sea bass was one of the daily specials, prepared over angel hair with a choice of various sauces. I had a chance to try the puttanesca sauce, which included tomatoes, capers, and olives. The fish itself could have been more flavorful, but the mix of salty flavors from the capers and olives more than made up for the shortcoming. This salty dish truly brought an authentic Italian taste.
Finally, the linguini ala Angela included the restaurant’s signature Angela sauce, which was as delicious as advertised. The creamy sauce contained a mix of sausage and fresh herbs, with a top layer of melted mozzarella cheese over perfectly cooked linguini. At just $13.95, this mountainous plate of pasta more than paid for itself.
For dessert, I was able to try one of their cakes and one of their gelato bombas. The spumoni bomba was a beautifully prepared dessert, including three scoops of ice cream: chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio. The tower of ice cream was sealed inside a hard chocolate shell, which was almost too beautiful to cut into. Once I did eventually begin eating, it wasn’t long before I found myself scraping the edges of the plate to salvage every last drop.
Next I tried the Limoncello mascarpone cake, which was just as satisfying in its own respect. The lemon-flavored sponge cake included a raspberry sauce drizzled over the top of its mascarpone cheese icing. For a cheesecake lover, this dessert was as difficult to resist as it was to pronounce.
Overall, the meals and desserts were seasoned well and left everyone full. Pricing was extremely reasonable, considering the quality of food and large portion sizes. With so much food left over, everyone found themselves taking much of it home to finish later. However, for a restaurant with such impressive food, service, and environment, their cheap to-go boxes could use some improvement, as it was difficult to keep the sauces from spilling outside the flimsy containers. Another minor complaint would be Angela’s lack of internet presence. The restaurant has no website, and it can be difficult to find information on the food or the menu. As a result, it seems they may be missing out on a younger demographic. Angela’s clientele seemed to be mostly middle-aged to elderly customers, but the restaurant is welcoming for younger families and children as well. This universal appeal is what makes Angela’s special, and they need to capitalize on that strength. Here, people can have reasonably priced and authentic Italian food, while enjoying a comfortable environment that is inviting to all.
All photos by John Hazelton.