Sebastiano’s Italiano—Italian Classics with a Spin

. October 6, 2018.
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Friendly for families and foodies

A relaxed evening and a set of four sharp appetites shared among friends—the perfect combination for dinner at Sebastiano’s Italiano, which glows in its polished setting like a local jewel.

The Sicilian-inspired restaurant snuggled into a strip mall across from the Stranahan Theatre has been a Toledo staple for more than 15 years—first under Sebastiano and Helene Caniglia, then for the last five years with Jonathan and Sarah Sagaser, at the helm.

The Sagasers had been regular diners at the Heatherdowns Blvd. restaurant, and local chef Jonathan “got a wistful look on his face” whenever he would consider owning the restaurant, said Sarah. The couple got their chance when the Caniglias decided to retire. A family effort, like that of the original owners, Jon and Sarah are “raising our three little ones in the kitchen.”sebastianos-1

Italian experience

As well as being a family environment, the small kitchen produces wonders for diners. Our party chose classic Italian fare—spaghetti with 12-hour meat sauce is a deservedly popular dish, a hearty tomato base enhanced by herbal complexities, and a generous sampling of ground beef.

For a meatless option, the linguine dish, Roasted Peppers with Mozz, topped with roasted red peppers, lemon, olive oil, capers, oregano and mozzarella is downright symphonic, as well as being a festival for the eyes. The citrus notes complement the creaminess created by the olive oil and cheese, and the flavors play together perfectly.sebastianos-3

The build-your-own pasta entree offers a choice of sauces, including Alfredo. The meatballs deserve special praise, both in seasoned tastiness and for their manageable size.

It wouldn’t be a full Italian experience without at least one pizza. The house-made, hand-rolled dough is a favorite—reserve your’s early with your waitress, because it sometimes is unavailable from heavy ordering on very busy nights. The spinach, mushroom and tomato topping—anchored by plenty of cheese—satisfied the vegetarian in our group.

We must call out, the creamy basil salad dressing. House-made, it’s a spark of pesto-kissed summer sunshine that can brighten up even the darkest evening.

Sweet finish and sounds

And save room for the desserts! The tiramisu—served in an oversize cup—is house-made, and is gaining legendary status. Jonathan makes the gelato as well, and the lemon-cream cake drizzled with raspberry sauce is another delight.

I spoke with a regular, enjoying a plate of mussels bathed in a smoky wine sauce. “This is just a nice place,” he said. “Groups, singles, families all get a good welcome and really good food.”

A piano player entertained a full house from an understated corner stage, delighting one family group, prompting a grandma and grandchild to break into a gentle dance, eliciting smiles from around the room. It’s the kind of place where upscale food meshes with down-home friendliness.

4448 Heatherdowns Blvd, Toledo
419-382-0615 | sebastianositaliano.com

Wheelchair accessible.

*Open Monday-Thursday at 3:30 (Mondays 5:30); last table seated at 8 pm, Friday & Saturday 4:30-10 pm; Sundays open immediately after matinees in Stranahan Theater, closes when evening show begins.

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