Appearances can be deceiving. Tucked in the corner of the Jewel Plaza at Ogden and Aurora, the sign reads “Fontano’s Subs,” but inside we found an authentic Italian trattoria featuring some of the best homemade pasta we’ve tasted.

RicesStarting in 1996 as a branch of the famous Fontano’s Subs in Chicago’s Little Italy, Fontano’s of Naperville now offers a complete menu of “made from scratch” favorites including Antipasto Caldo and Freddo, Zuppa, Pollo, Carne and Pesci (sounds like a family from Campobasso) – along with the Homemade Pasta and Pasta di Specialita.

Erik, our server, immediately brought warm bread accompanied by freshly grated Parmesan and “seasoned tomatoes.”

We began with a Caprese Salad – fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil—followed by Potato Leek Zuppa garnished with bacon and scallions—smooth as silk.

Laurie said, “You can make a meal of Zuppa and bread.”

As we pondered the entrées, Mark kept coming back to “Homemade Pasta” and decided on 8-Finger Cavatelli Alla Escarole – hand-rolled pasta made with Ricotta and sautéed with red onion, homemade sausage, escarole and white beans in a light garlic sauce.

On a previous visit with her friends from School District 203, Laurie had ordered Gnocchi Pomodoro (and loved it); this time she selected Penne Crema Rosa – penne sautéed in a tomato cream sauce with prosciutto, asparagus tips and portabella. Both were outstanding – true Northern Italy cuisine.

Since Mark grew up in Massachusetts and fondly remembers eating “two in a bowl” at The Little Kitchen with longtime friend Johnny Davenport, he had to order Fontano’s version. Two dense meatballs covered with a lightly seasoned marinara brought back great memories of times long gone.

As we were about to ask for the check, Erik suggested some dessert aka pistachio gelato.

Already full, we said, “Sure, why not?”

At Fontano’s (, we had a great meal from beginning to end.

Buon appetito!