This family-owned-and-operated chain has been dishing out the marinara for more than 50 years and is darn proud of it. The business is run with "no partners, no investment groups, no venture capitalists, just us!" boast the owners.
Those who've broken garlic bread at Leona's leave with a pretty vivid impression of the restaurant's vivacious namesake; indeed, the joint was named after a real-life Italian grandmother who (we have a hunch) enjoyed stuffing people who came near her kitchen within an inch of their lives.
At Leona's Restaurant, checkered tablecloths, wooden booths and tableside game cards (think Trivial Pursuit) shrug off pretentious trends in favor of old-fashioned, neighborhood-eatery decor. The down-to-earth, warm-hearted vibes continue a la carte: "Unsophisticated Italian" appetizers include the baked romano chicken tenders ($7.95) and Leona's Kickass Garlic Bread ($4.95).
The menu is as overwhelmingly large as the portions: Pasta, pizza and sandwiches give way to "Dinner Feasts" like the ribs and catfish combo ($19.95) and gigantic salads like the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-laden Psychedelic Salad ($7.95). Top it all off with desserts like the homemade cheesecake ($4.95) or selections from the full bar. Stuffed yet? Wait, it gets even heavier: Meals are served with heaping side dishes like fettuccini alfredo, onion rings, wedge potatoes with sour cream or penne with meat sauce. Save some room in your fridge; you'll be coming home with loads of leftovers.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg