Bob Wilhelmy

Bob Wilhelmy

Music might bring in customers to Padrino, but pizza remains the top act.

“We have live music on Saturdays from 8 to 11, and the jazz and blues groups are at a comfortable volume setting,” said Neal Barraco, general manager of Padrino. 

He said the music definitely is a draw, along with the music trivia night on Wednesdays and the “last call” trivia night on Thursdays. 

“These events and the music are a lot of fun and people really enjoy all of that,” he said. 

But the real draw, he thinks is the pizza. 

The Dining Out column has focused on the pizza in the past, but Barraco wanted to revisit the pizza phenomena because of the following it has among his customers. “We do a ton of carryout business, and the majority of that is pizza,” he said. 

The reason? “Because our pizza’s excellent! People love our pizza; yeah, it’s really different from the norm. I think people love it because of our crust, our toppings, the ingredients. The crust – it’s thinner and crispier, and it has a lot of flavor to it. I think that is the big thing; big, bold flavors. It’s different because of the things we do in the prep. For instance, our veggies, our onions and peppers and mushrooms are all pre-roasted. They’re all seasoned so that every topping is not just going on raw or plain. Everything has added flavor and extra seasoning. That makes a difference, and people can taste the difference.”

What else is hot on the Padrino menu? Barraco said he could not pick out a crowd favorite, because everything on the menu does well, depending on time of day. 

“At lunch, we sell a lot of sandwiches and salads (along with pizzas too). Then in the evenings a lot more pasta dishes and entrees. It’s all good!” 

Padrino’s bruschetta pizza is a popular menu item.

Padrino’s bruschetta pizza is a popular menu item.

 

Both at lunch and dinner, many patrons order a pizza and a salad together, which may be the overall favorite of diners at this venerable dining spot. 

Padrino has been around a long time, and the reasons for its staying power are obvious to Barraco. “First, the food has to be good and consistent, and we have been able to do that over the years. And we have a lot of options (for diners), and we cater to people with special needs or allergies,” he said. That catering mentality is good for Jewish patrons wanting to eat kosher style while dining out.

“Also, Padrino is family-friendly, open, comfortable, casual – the kind of place people like to come to eat and relax,” he said. 

My sense is that Barraco’s assessment is on the money. Times when there for interviews or to eat, the ambiance is as he said. Diners may choose between eating indoors, at tables or at the bar, and eating outdoors on the back-of-house deck, which is sheltered, spacious, and festooned with potted plants that add yet another dimension to the al fresco experience.

On the food, there are plenty of options on the menu for those who want something to eat beside or instead of pizza. Let’s begin with the entree section of the menu, where one of my very favorite dishes resides – eggplant parmesan. More on that dish in a minute. 

At the top of the entrees is the Italian standard, spaghetti marinara. The house-made marinara sauce is full-bodied and rich in tomato flavor. Sprinkle a topping of grated parmesan cheese, spin the fork in the spoon and go to town on this dish. The spaghetti marinara is inexpensive comfort food, which may be just what you are looking for as August slips into September’s cooler fall evenings. 

Again, if you are a lover of simple Italian foods, you may want to try the pasta agli olio. This is Italian peasant food with a twist. Generally, Italians prepare this dish using three ingredients, garlic, olive oil and pasta, then complement the dish with cheese, salt and pepper. The twist here is that Padrino adds spinach, Roma tomatoes and red pepper flakes (hot!) to the entree to add flavor. If you are a purist, you may want the dish prepared the way my Italian grandmother did it, which was heavy on the garlic, light on the olive oil and top the heaping hot spaghetti with parmesan cheese at the table. Done my grandmother’s way, the dish is delicious, especially with plenty of bread to capture what the fork will not.

Then of course, there is the eggplant parmesan. Padrino does an outstanding job with this Americanized entree. They tell me the secret is in the way the eggplant is prepared. Each slice of eggplant is breaded before cooking, and then flash frozen and held in reserve. When you order the dish, the chef takes the frozen slices and drops them in a deep fryer. This produces a crispy, crusty eggplant slice outside, and hot and delicately tender on the inside. The cooked slices then are layered with a marinara-cheese blend that melds flavors, and the layered mix is baked and served over spaghetti. If you like this dish generally, I’m betting you will like the version Padrino offers. 

Beside entrée items, specialty pizzas and a build-your-own pizza section, the menu at Padrino includes sandwiches, soups, salads, appetizers, hoagies, wings and a scattering of vegetarian choices. 

Padrino is preparing for The Art Affair on Sept. 28, on Main Street, according to Barraco. “They will be closing off the street (to vehicular traffic) on that day, and there will be a wide range of art on display (and for sale). Not just crafts, either, but local artists of all types,” he said. 

Padrino hosts live music, but its pizza is still a top draw.

Padrino hosts live music, but its pizza is still a top draw.

 

See you at Padrino!

Padrino

111 Main St.

Milford, Ohio, 45150

513-965-0100

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