Executive chef and restaurateur AJ Black got his first job in the restaurant industry at age 6. That's when he began washing dishes at the restaurant his family ran in their small seaside town in Sicily. Black also joined his grandparents as they fished for the eatery's catch of the day, reeling in tuna, anchovies, and other fresh seafood.
These experiences sparked a passion for cooking that eventually led Chef Black to the Italian Culinary Institute. He opened his first restaurant at the tender age of 19 before heading to Le Cordon Bleu to study classical French cooking under Paul Bocuse.
From Beaches to Borders
Fresh, seasonal ingredients inspire daily specials that let loose Chef Black's creativity in the kitchen. For the regular menu, however, he draws on tried-and-true traditions from across Italy, from the sunny beaches of the south to the French-Italian border. A dish of whole, lightly fried sardines with a dusting of chili flakes takes its inspiration from the Sicilian seaside, and a hearty order of duck leg confit with freshly made gnocchi hails from the mountainous North.
Il Tesoro's faux-stucco walls and striped awnings capture the casual spirit of an Old World bistro. Oil paintings burst with images from bucolic countryside scenes to vases of blooming flowers. The simple wooden chairs surrounding each white linen-draped table exude a homespun charm, as do the solitary brass lamps that adorn the tables.
The secret behind Carmine Street NY Pizza & Mussels’ New York–style slices is the restaurant’s stone-brick oven, which sears dough until it attains the style’s signature crispy, thin-crusted crunch. However, Chef Anthony knows that a great pizza relies on more than its base, so he tops dough with gourmet ingredients such as chicken marsala, meatballs, and fresh baby spinach.
Like a graphic novel about pearls, the restaurant also features a few oceanic alter egos. Mussels, shrimp, and calamari are delivered to the kitchen daily, allowing chefs to toss them with wine, herbs, and pasta, or quickly fry them for fresh appetizers. Calzones, paninis, and entrees of chicken piccata are among the menu's classic Italian meals. Diners may pair meals with wines and cocktails procured at the full liquor bar, or take in the soothing streams of live music while feasting indoors or on the patio.
Putting a more inviting twist on The Godfather's famous quote, Donanthony's offers diners a "meal they can't refuse" with their menu of Italian classics and artisan delights. Traditional pizzas layered in thick pepperoni, fried ravioli, and oven-roasted subs share the menu with white and gourmet pies, such as the cheesesteak and bacon double cheeseburger pizza, and cheesecakes, fried zeppoles, and tiramisu line the dessert menu. Now with two locations in Cape Coral, Donanthony's offers carryout and delivery on all of their items, or invites guests to dine in and savor their sauce amidst three TVs and walls lined with posters of Italian icons.