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About this business
From Our Editors
When Amo Scotese first arrived on American soil at the age of 18, he carried with him not only his suitcase but a lifetime of experience in traditional Italian cuisine. Shortly after that day, more than 76 years ago, the Naples native and his wife, Rose, opened La Cantina Ristorante Italiano to showcase their family’s time-honored Italian dishes. Determined to keep the aroma of those recipes in Paw Paw’s collective nostrils, Amo and Rose’s children continue running the kitchen to this day, captaining chefs as they fold housemade sauces into the authentic pastas, pizzas, and specialty dishes that have been honed over generations. The restaurant's renowned meatballs were described by a reporter from the Kalamazoo Gazette as “simple and soothing, redolent of fennel, just enough for an evening and left a slight tingling in the mouth from a scant touch of red pepper flakes—a token to remember.” Staff sommeliers, meanwhile, stand by to assist clients in pairing dishes with selections from the extensive wine list, which spotlights fine Italian and international varieties.
Servers roll vintage serving carts out into the energetic dining room, where hundreds of chianti bottles dangle from the ceiling. Amo and Rose’s wedding portraits gaze out over the red-checkered tablecloths to pay respect to the restaurant’s history, the family’s trailblazers, and the dark period in America before colors existed.