banner

Red sauce is the theme at Nino’s of Delray Beach, a shopping center icon since 2004

Nino’s New York-style pizza.

A shopping center pizzeria-Italian restaurant popular with local condo residents serves up familiar fare with friendly service.

By ALAN J. WAX

There’s no doubt that Nino’s of Delray Beach is a red-sauce joint. Proof: gallon cans of Italian tomatoes decorate the dining room’s shelves.

Nino’s is the prototypical, casual suburban Italian eatery, in this case one that mostly caters to the retirees who fill the endless stretch of condo communities along Jog Road. They fill the tables during early-bird dining, often lingering through to prime dining hours, when prices still are reasonable.

Before a recent visit – it’s been a half dozen years since I last visited the eatery which abuts the Publix supermarket in the Shoppes of San Marco at Jog and Lake Ida Roads – I felt Nino’s was a decent place with friendly service and a menu filled with red sauce dishes.  These days, little has changed.

Nino’s is in the Shops of San Marco

In pre-Covid times Nino’s was a virtual icon as diners lined up outside the doors waiting to feast on Southern Italian-American classics and New York-style pizza. These days, the lines seem shorter, not surprising given that its customer base is cautious, despite a virus killing mechanism the restaurant added to its air-conditioning system.

Nino’s has a relatively long history in Delray Beach. It’s an offshoot of Nino’s of Boca Raton in the Del Mar Village shopping senter on Powerline Road, which opened in 1986. The Delray eatery opened in 2004, soon after the shopping center was constructed. Both were founded by the late Antonino “Nino” Tribunella, who immigrated from Collesano, Sicily, to New York City as a child. Before moving to Boca Raton in 1986 he operated two successful pizzerias in New York City, according to a 2016 obituary. In addition to Nino’s, the family also owns Josephine’s Italian Restaurant on Federal Highway in Boca Raton.

Nino’s dining room

Today, Nino’s of Delray Beach is overseen by Tribunella’s son, Roberto, who worked with his father for 15 years before taking the helm. The Boca Nino’s is owned by the Tribunellas’ former partners in both eateries, the Tornabene family.

The modest Delray dining room with gray slate floors is divided in two by white masonry walls with arched spaces. Reddish brown tables and chairs fill both rooms. At the back of the entry room is the pizza/takeout counter and steel pizza ovens.

Recently, at the urging of a neighbor, we gave the Delray Nino’s another try, snagging one of three outside tables on a weekday evening, albeit after a brief wait.

Service remains friendly and attentive as we remembered.

Soon after being seated, our affable hostess brought over a gratis plate of tender, albeit small, garlic knots dressed with butter and sprinkled with minced garlic. They’re also available sans garlic or as a mix of both. They quelled our immediate hunger.

Chicken francese

Chicken scapariello

Entrees come with a choice of soup or salad, and pasta.  My wife opted for the salad, which was standard issue, but enlivened by a chunky blue cheese dressing. For me, it was lentil soup, a bowl of brown legumes in an earth-hued broth. Alas, it needed doctoring with salt, pepper and grated cheese. It reminded me of the minestrone soup I had at Nino’s some years back, well suited for those on a salt-free diet.

Lentil soup

My spouse, who generally orders chicken francese in Italian eateries, stayed true. Her favorite dish here ($20), three nicely browned pieces of tender chicken breast slathered in a well-balanced lemon-wine sauce, was pronounced “pretty good.”

Not in the mood for red sauce, I ordered chicken scarpariello ($22), available with boned or boneless poultry. I went traditional with chicken on the bone, which typically is more tender and juicy. “Scarpariello,” or shoemaker-style in Southern Italy, gets its name because it’s a meager dish suitable for the family of a poor shoemaker. Alas, my white meat chicken was tough – the dark meat less so – and some of the spicy Italian sausage bits had been rendered of all their tasty juices. A lone, tiny pepperoncini seemed lost amid the chunks of pillowy potatoes and the piquant, bright red olives, which added color to the dish and was its only zesty note. A supposedly vibrant sauce would have benefited from a more generous hand with the Balsamic vinegar.

Lunch special sign

The pizza, available by the slice and as part of bargain-priced lunch specials, is New York style (the Statue of Liberty decorates takeout boxes) and better than in many Delray competitors.  Two slices and a soda are just $6.75 at lunch. Round slices are nicely crusted with little grease and there’s no flop at the pointy tip. The Sicilian, or square, was a tad doughy. Both are topped with good cheese, but I found the sauce overly saccharine.

Wine choices are limited to uninspiring house wines. Perhaps, on a future visit, if there is one, I’ll bring a more interesting bottle of my own.

There’s little wonder that Nino’s of Delray Beach with its reasonable prices, friendly service and often satisfying dishes, remains popular among nearby residents. You can’t expect more from a neighborhood Italian place, except perhaps for a bit more consistency from the kitchen.

Nino’s of Delray Beach

13900 Jog Road,  Suite 201, Delray Beach, FL 33446

(561) 499-3988

Ninosofdelray.com

Don’t forget to share this via , Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Buffer, , Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, WhatsApp, Line and Naver.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About delraydines_editor

%d bloggers like this: