Savannah >Toni Steakhouse
Toni’s Steakhouse is one of those
unsung gems of serious dining not usually expected on the Southside. The owner, Stephan, and his family have been part of the Savannah restaurant scene for several years, previously off of Diamond Causeway with the still-missed Adriatic. With Toni’s, they have perfected their style, to the enjoyment of all diners.
The building itself is a modest brick structure next to the Holiday Inn. Inside is a tasteful understated décor of brick, black, and white, with abstract paintings. We are often greeted by Stephan or his family, who hail from Croatia, and swiftly seated. Toni’s small size lends itself to personal attention by the wait staff; the place is intimate without being cramped.
Service is professional, the waiters will often recognize a returning guest and remember what they like, make suggestions. During quiet periods Stephan or his sons may come out to converse with guests, which is often my favorite part of the meal.
The food, which is the essential part, does not disappoint. The meal always opens with the welcome sight of bread baked that morning. Stephan keeps his menu limited in the right way, concentrating on what he does best: tender, Grade-AA steaks and sirloins cooked to order, local shrimp grilled or fried with flair, to generous dishes of pasta with sauces created right on the premises. One of our favorites is wiener schnitzel with its tender breading, the dish that initially hooked us on this place. If you ask, especially at lunch, Stephan or Toni is not above creating a dish inspired by the old Adriatic, often I get a shrimp & spinach crepe. Often swordfish, grouper, or mussels are on special, but only briefly, Toni’s is very firm about only serving the freshest of seafoods. Even the vegetables are perfect al dente in texture and taste, and the mashed potatoes are real, never powered.
Dessert is also created on site. We’ve tried them all, but keep coming back to the crème brûlée. Coffee is never far away. Besides a well-stocked bar, complete with a TV silently tuned to news or soccer, there is an extensive wine list, but my favorite is the house wine, a good basic red or white created out in California’s wine country just for Toni’s.
Besides the food, Toni’s has one thing I consider essential for the full dining experience: good music! No noisy Top 40 hits blaring out here, no recycled muzak, just the calm beauty of a piano or guitar playing Mozart, Beethoven, Rodriguez, or a cool jazz combo playing with the favorites, all of it at a volume you can have a conversation over. Next to the food, the soundtrack is what makes or breaks a restaurant for this diner.
Located on the Southside, Toni’s has for too long been a candle under a bushel . For those who think all the good food is exclusively downtown, I suggest you look again, this is worth the trip.
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