Tucked away off the beaten path is one of Fort Wayne’s best-kept secrets – The Italian Connection. I had heard of it in the past, but I had never taken the time to visit. So this past Friday night, we headed off to find it and see if it was as good as all the reviews claimed.
If we hadn’t known what we were looking for, we never would have noticed the small, nondescript building along Taylor in an older residential area of town. But when we opened the door, we walked into another world – an old-world ristorante with an abundance of atmosphere and charm. Most of the other Italian restaurants in town are large and open, with a constant din of voices that takes away from the ambiance of the meal. At the Italian Connection, the melodic voice of Frank Sinatra played at the perfect level to be able to enjoy a quiet conversation while drowning out the distraction from other tables. We were seated at a table that felt private and cozy, somewhere we could linger over a meal. Our waitress was friendly and accommodating, as well as knowledgeable about the menu.
I measure the quality of an Italian restaurant by the flavors of its eggplant parmesan. I have determined over the years that eggplant is one of those dishes that people either love or hate, and I happen to love it when it’s prepared well. Oftentimes to try to make the eggplant more appealing to the masses, restaurants will bread it until it is almost unrecognizable. At The Italian Connection, the chef allows the flavors of the eggplant to shine through and be complimented by the rich and delectable marinara sauce. I savored every bite – it was absolutely delicious. We also ordered the Fettuccini Antonio, fettuccini pasta with prosciutto ham and Italian bacon topped with cream sauce. It was rich, savory, and flavorful. In addition, we tried the meatballs and Italian sausage. Both meats were prepared perfectly. For dessert, we enjoyed the Italian cheesecake, though we had a hard time choosing from the list of mouthwatering desserts. Each meal came out beautifully plated, but everything looked so delicious that I dived right in before remembering to take photos.
We were impressed by the authentic, homemade food and the inviting ambiance at The Italian Connection. Now that we know what a treat it is, we will be visiting frequently. It would be difficult to find somewhere with a better combination of appealing atmosphere and distinctive food. It is open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm to 8:30pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 9pm, and I would highly recommend making reservations. It is located at 2725 Taylor Street, between Brooklyn Avenue and Freeman Street. If you haven’t yet discovered The Italian Connection, make a point to seek it out. You will be delighted by this hidden Fort Wayne gem.