Don't let the arcade games, batting cages and miniature golf next door fool you. Donatello's is not a concession stand for Family Fun Tyme entertainment complex in Maryville. Far from it.
The restaurant's new owners renovated the space that formerly housed Alfonzo's Pizzeria to give it a more contemporary look and feel. They created a menu that includes Chicago-style pizza but also offers pasta and other Italian fare, steaks and seafood.
"We have one of the best chefs on either side of the river," said co-owner Rich Dunnavant, 42, of Edwardsville. "He has free reign to do whatever he wants to do. We've been open three months, and people are comparing our food to The Hill."
Rich was speaking of Robert Tedesco, 50, of Freeburg, who has an interesting past. After growing up in Belleville, he attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Robert later honed his skills on a cruise ship that sailed along the East Coast, a private yacht in Europe and the Mediterranean, and movie sets in Los Angeles. He moved back to the Midwest to raise a family and worked 12 years at Kemoll's in St. Louis.
"I was executive chef for five years," Robert said. "I also owned my own restaurant in Smithton for three years. It was called Robert Scott's."
Robert is a purist when it comes to making everything from scratch, including pizza dough and marinara sauce, salad dressings, soups, even french fries and potato chips.
"I always tell people, 'If you want your meal in 15 minutes, don't come here,'" Rich said. "Unless you're going for the buffet lunch ($10 for pasta, pizza, house salad, soup and drink)."
Donatello's opened Jan. 15. Rich owns the restaurant with his wife, Jillian, and friends Chris and Sarah Cason. Rich and Chris also are partners in a telecommunications marketing company.
They gutted the old Alfonzo's, installed wood parquet floors and decorated in burgundy, black and sage green. They knocked down a wall, revealing a bar illuminated by colorful LED lights.
The bar overlooks a large wine garden with a pavilion and fire pits. There's also a private party and meeting room with a giant TV screen.
Donatello's isn't affiliated with Family Fun Tyme, but the owners invite parents and children to combine dining with entertainment. The menu offers chicken wings and other appetizers, burgers and sandwiches such as Italian beef, Reuben and meatball.
"I love the house salad," said Jillian, 40. "It's a meal in itself. It's a lettuce mix with an asiago cheese blend, roasted red peppers, black olives, real bacon that we cook and chop ourselves, green onions that we grow ourselves and house dressing that we make ourselves."
At a glance
What: Donatello's Restaurant
Where: 1 Schiber Court in Maryville
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
Seating: About 300
Delivery: Anderson Hospital and nearby doctor's offices
Private party room: Yes
Information: Call 618-288-6272 or visit Facebook page
On the menu
Chicken Breast Donatello -- Boneless breast sauteed with prosciutto boursin creamed asparagus, served with salad and choice of Italian roasted potatoes, fresh vegetables, baked potato or penne pasta, $16
Spaghetti Basilica -- Topped with marinara for $11 or meat sauce for $12 and served with salad or soup and garlic bread (add $3 for meat balls or Italian sausage)
Michelangelo Pizza -- Pepperoni, sausage, bacon and hamburger, $19 for medium or $21 for large (add $3 for deep dish)
Roasted Italian Beef Hoagie -- Served with choice of hand-cut fries, homemade chips, fresh fruit, cottage cheese or cole slaw, $9
Donatello's House Salad -- Lettuce mix with asiago cheese blend, scallions, smoked bacon, roasted peppers, black olives and sweet vinaigrette, $5 for small, $8 for medium and $10 for large