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The Suburbanite
  • Restaurant review: Winning Italian cuisine at Bugsy's

  • Bugsy's offers a relaxing, mellow vibe and carefully prepared cuisine. So romantic is the dining room — with warm, subdued lighting, cloth tablecloths and napkins, and jazzy Sinatra music — that a guy recently proposed marriage there.
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    • Bugsy's Pasta House
      7936 Hills and Dales Rd. NW, Massillon (next to Progressive Dodge).

      330-880-0881

      Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m....
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      Bugsy's Pasta House
      7936 Hills and Dales Rd. NW, Massillon (next to Progressive Dodge).
      330-880-0881
      Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
  • Between them, Ernesto and Heather Catalon have about 40 years experience working for restaurants, including numerous national chains.
    Heather kiddingly refers to these latter places as Chef Mike — "because they take everything and throw it in the microwave."
    Now the couple have their own place, Bugsy's Pasta House, opened in July, and it is the opposite of hectic, assembly-line, chain Italian.
    Instead, Bugsy's offers a relaxing, mellow vibe and carefully prepared cuisine. So romantic is the dining room — with warm, subdued lighting, cloth tablecloths and napkins, and jazzy Sinatra music — that a guy recently proposed marriage there.
    "We want every guest to enjoy and have a good time," said Ernesto, Bugsy's chef. "We don't want them to feel rushed."
    "We want quality food and different food," Heather said. "Nothing is frozen. It's all fresh produce. We try to use local. We make our Italian meatballs the way an Italian mama would make 'em." (They are notably excellent.)
    "Making food is my passion," he said, noting that he has just created a seasonal entree of butternut squash ravioli with a brown sugar-sage cream sauce and sweet potatoes.
    I started things off on a recent visit with the portabello bruschetta appetizer ($8.99), a mound of foccacia bread topped with sautéed portabello mushrooms, caramelized onions, crumbled feta cheese and a balsamic glaze. I can imagine making a meal out of this glorious concoction, paired with one of Bugsy's dozen $4 martinis.
    The sherry-infused lobster bisque ($4.99) with bits of lobster meat is rich, creamy and sublime. The Italian wedding soup ($3.99) includes orzo and handmade tiny meatballs; unfortunately, mine was a shade too salty.
    Warm, crusty bread with a seasoned olive-oil dipping sauce is served to all tables.
    While Bugsy's entrees include a dinner salad, I'd recommend paying $1 additional and ordering either the iceberg wedge, with egg, bacon, tomato and shaved parmesan, or the Insalata Mista, mixed greens with bacon, tomato and fresh mozzarella. The housemade salad dressings — Italian, balsamic vinaigrette and creamy parmesan — are first-rate.
    Selecting an entree from 19 options is a challenge. An old standby, lasagna, is recommended here, with its savory Alfredo, marinara and meat bolognese sauces ($14.99). As Heather explained, at Bugsy's the generous slab is not cut from a pan but individually hand-layered on the plate.
    My entree of shrimp diablo ($15.99) had nine tender, butterflied sautéed shrimp tossed with penne pasta and a spicy tomato cream sauce. Crab and shrimp-filled ravioli ($16.99) is topped with a creamy and gently flavorful tomato-Alfredo lobster sauce. On the lighter side, chicken scampi ($12.99) has grilled chicken breast, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes tossed with angel hair pasta in a sauce of lemon, garlic and scampi butter.
    Page 2 of 2 - Other entrees include both chicken and eggplant parmesan, grilled salmon with shrimp, Cajun grilled tilapia, and chicken marsala. Rack of lamb is offered on the weekends. Bugsy's Facebook page has tempting photographs of such daily specials as jumbo scallops with gnocchi, spinach and sweet potato; balsamic chicken with orzo and roasted vegetables; and rosemary jumbo shrimp over orzo and spinach.
    Note: Bugsy's printed menu states that all pasta is freshly made; Ernesto said this was the restaurant's original plan but is no longer the case.
    The dessert menu, which I have not yet sampled, offers tiramisu, creme brulee and canoli.
    In addition to the atmospheric dining room described above, which includes an L-shaped bar, there is a second, brighter dining room that is more family-friendly.