It's my first night in Branson, and first on the agenda was dinner at Florentina's Ristorante Italiano for me and Richard, a friend and fellow travel writer, and Andy, our host.
Recipes here are created in the old-world tradition of Italy by Chef Ron Kalenuik, author of 18 cookbooks and host of a number of television shows. Chef K, as he is affectionately known, has crafted a great menu that includes homemade sauces, signature dishes made fresh daily and authentic brick oven pizzas.
Among the house specialties was a great selection of pasta dishes, including spaghetti marinara and bolognese, capellini vongole, lasagna, linguini del mare, penne alla vodka and penne arrabbiate.
I opted for the lasagna; which came highly recommended. Happy to report, It exceeded high expectations.
Dino's 24 Karrot Cake, the talk of the town, is offered at Florentina's, so the three of us finished our meals with a (shared) serving of that too. The cake is made here in Branson by Dino's 24 Karrot Cake Company. Dino is an international, award-winning pianist. His bakery is nationally known, and many celebrities - including Denzel Washington and The Rev. Billy Graham - are among Dino's frequent customers.
Florentina's decor is warm and inviting; it is perfect for intimate dinners for two or for groups wanting to eat "family style." Prices are reasonable; and serving portions are generous. Staffers are some of the friendliest I've ever encountered!
Florentina's Ristorante Italiano is located in Branson, Missouri, at 2690 Green Mountain Drive.