Antonio's Italian Ristorante to host beer dinner featuring Lagunitas Brewing Company

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader/Hop Notes

Antonio’s Italian Ristorante has been one of my family’s favorite dinner destinations for years. Even when our kids were quite young, it was their preferred choice for birthday dinners.

Just a couple of years ago I can remember heading over to the restaurant for my birthday with my parents who were in town, only to realize when we arrived that it was Monday and they were closed. That was a huge disappointment.

I know, however, that the upcoming Antonio’s beer dinner will not be a disappointment.

Lagunitas Beer Dinner
6 p.m. Wednesday, July 15

Antonio’s Italian Ristorante
1105 Goshen Ave., Elkhart

Tickets: $45 per person, call 574-295-8424 for reservations

Last fall, owner/chef Paul Cataldo traveled with Marshall King’s tour to California.

The tour was mostly focused on wine, however, the group did make a stop at Lagunitas Brewing Company located in Petaluma, Calif. When the brewery opened a new facility in Chicago last year, more brands from the Lagunitas line were made available in Michiana, and Paul decided to serve the beer at his restaurant.

On Wednesday, July 15, Antonio’s will host a beer dinner featuring Lagunitas beer paired with a carefully planned menu. Pizza and beer, anyone?

Paul has put a pizza course on the previous two beer dinners that the restaurant hosted, and will do the same this time. He told me that was a no-brainer for his menu.

I attended the first two beer dinners that Paul hosted, and that is how I know that this will also be a great dinner. The first beer dinner featured Barley Island Brewing of Indianapolis, and the second featured a variety of beer from New Belgium, New Holland, North Coast, Pyramid Brewing and Southern Tier Brewing.

Antonio’s has a very loyal following and at the last beer dinner I attended, several of the people at my table were not there because they especially loved — they were there because they loved Antonio’s.  

I have no doubt in my mind that this beer dinner will sell out, so don’t wait to get your reservation.

Wine may come to mind before beer when thinking of this local Italian eatery, and Antonio’s does have many more wine dinners than they do beer dinners. However, they always have craft beer on tap and available in bottles.  

“We like to use beer (and wine) dinners to introduce our customers to beer (or wine) that they may not have had before,” Paul told me. That way he can also get feedback from the customers about which beer they really like. If he gets some good feedback, he will consider carrying that brand consistently at his restaurant.

Here is the menu for Wednesday’s dinner:

Appetizer

  • Chicken sausage sliders with arugula, rosemary mayo and macerated cherries.
  • Paired with Lagunitas Little Sumpin ’ Sumpin Ale (American pale wheat IPA, 7.5 percent ABV, IBUs 65). This is a great opening beer with plenty of citrus hops balanced with a nice, bready malt backbone.

Salad

  • Mix of field greens, arugula, kale and Swiss chard topped with crispy prosciutto and served with house-made honey balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Paired with Lagunitas Pils (Czech style pilsener, 6 percent ABV, IBUs 35). Because this is a lager, it is crisp and clean and easy drinking.  Great choice with a salad.

The “Capone” Pizza

  • Thick crust with spicy arrabiata sauce, Italian sausage and Parmesan cheese
  • Paired with Lagunitas IPA (6.2 percent ABV, IBUs 51.5). Now we are getting to the beers that Lagunitas is known for — bold flavored IPAs. This IPA does not have a huge ABV, but the flavor is huge and pairs wonderfully with pizza!

Pasta

  • Penne alla Roberto, penne noodles tossed in house red sauce with onion, roasted red peppers, Sopressata and mozzarella and provolone cheese.
  • Paired with Lagunitas Pale Ale (6.2 percent ABV, IBUs 62). Antonio’s makes great pasta and the richness of the house-made red sauce will pair nicely with this beer.

Entrée

  • Braised short ribs served over polenta.
  • Paired with Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball (American Strong Ale, 9.4 percent ABV, IBUs 56.7). I can honestly say that I have not had this limited release from Lagunitas. But as a strong ale, I’m guessing that the big bold flavor was intentionally paired with the big, bold flavors of the ribs.

Dessert

  • Chocolate bacon beer cake.
  • Paired with Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout (9.62 percent ABV, IBUs 29.5). What a great ending to a great meal. I have had this limited release, and it will make a great pairing. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and I know that the richness of both the dessert and the beer will go very well together.

Cost of the beer dinner is $45 per person and will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 15. For reservations, call Antonio’s Italian Ristorante at 574-295-8424. The restaurant is located at 1105 Goshen Avenue in Elkhart, and is open Tuesday through Sunday.

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