Restaurant Review
Leo’s Italian Social
Mike Searl, 09-16-2019

A Ribeye steak, served with asparagus and mushroom risotta, as served as Leo's Italian Social Club, newly opened on Front St.
Mike Searl
Leo's Italian Social Club recently opened on the north end of the revived Front St. in the space previously occupied by Hibachi Japan,and with some gentle nudging to the family, I was able to convince them to try something new. We arrived around 4 o'clock on an already busy Saturday afternoon, and we were still seated quickly without reservations, though the restaurant still suggests reservations be made in advance. Once seated outside near two bocce ball courts where other diners were enjoying a match, we found a clean and concise menu—food on the front, wine and beer selections on the reverse.

For starters, we tried the calamari ($12), which was a first for our daughter, who is a little less adventurous with her cuisine. The calamari was perfectly cooked, tender with a slight kick of heat, and served with two side sauces—a fresh marinara and a delicious lemon butter aioli. Our server, Crystal, informed us that the calamari is selected from the “steak” portion of the squid, which is more tender and not rubbery. Additionally, a small rustic loaf of warm bread was served with a small plate of olive oil seasoned with cracked black pepper, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, and a swirl of balsamic vinegar.

For entrees, we had the margherita wood-fired pizza ($14), Pasta M ($14)—suggested by Crystal as being her favorite—and the Chef Special Ribeye with mushroom risotto and asparagus ($36). The pizza definitely had the wood fire flavor, with a slight bit of char on the underside of the crust. The Pasta M, which I can only assume stands for “meatball,” was fantastic. This was the first time that we'd had a meatball that was both fist-sized and fork-tender, and it incorporated finely-diced pieces of red and green bell peppers as well. The juicy, flavorful meatball was a highlight of the meal. Rounding out the three main dishes was the Ribeye steak, at a plate-filling 16 ounces, topped with a heaping pat of garlic butter. The asparagus and mushroom risotto were served in their own crock, which, though seemingly small, turned out to be a perfect portion. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and was the most tender, juicy, flavorful steak I've had, even without the garlic butter. This ribeye was better than filet mignon and strip steaks that I've had from other known steakhouses, and I would venture to say that this was the best steak that I've ever had, hands down. Finally, we had to have dessert, and so we chose the Chocolate Chip Cannoli. Two good-sized pieces arrived on a sugared plate and boasted a tasty filling inside of a unexpectedly thick shell—though not disappointingly so.

At the completion of the meal, we were presented with a Rewards Card that is usable at any of the Chef | Art | Pour Restaurant Group locations, including Burntwood Tavern, M Italian, Rose Italian Kitchen, and Leo’s. A point is earned for every pre-tax dollar spent, and 250 points earns $25 in reward credit, which would be enough for an appetizer and dessert, or more than most of the entrees at Leo’s. All in all, Leo’s Italian Social Club is definitely a culinary delight, but also a great spot to hang out with its open air seating, large windows, bocce ball courts, and friendly staff.

For more information about Leo’s, including the full menu and to join the mailing list, check out its website at https://www.leositaliansocial.com.


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