Years ago, there were plenty of choices for Italian food in Gainesville. I'm not talking about pizza joints like Big Lou’s, or pseudo-fast food like Bella Donna’s, but actual sit-down establishments that aren't named Olive Garden or Carrabba's. I'd rather eat Prego sauce over Publix spaghetti than eat at those places. Though places like Pomodoro’s Café, Piesano’s, and Leonardo’s By-The-Slice are all solid and have withstood the test of time, there really haven’t been any new Italian restaurants sprouting up. Nero's closed down years ago, Fresco Neighborhood Italian is gone, the choices have dwindled (some would argue Leonardo’s 706 is Italian, but I believe their menu is too broad to be limited to one genre).
I should say that I believe good Italian food is unpretentious. It’s fresh sauces, pastas, breads, and cheese served without pretense, piping hot, and guaranteed to leave you in a cozy food coma. That is why I always enjoy making the trip out to Jonesville to visit O Sole Mio, on the corner of 241 and Newberry Road.
For such a small restaurant, they sure do pack a whole lot of punch. You will find the largest selection of pizzas and pastas of any other Italian restaurant in Gainesville. Normally, a large menu like this could make for inconsistent service, but after many visits, I can tell you that it has been spot-on every time. There’s no fancy plating or exotic ingredients, just good homemade food served quickly, hot, and by a very attentive staff. There’s a reason why Coach Muschamp is known to visit this Jonesville favorite. I say Coach has good taste.
Be sure to order the Fried Ravioli appetizer, and if you have room for dessert, get the Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake. Some of my favorites on the main menu include Spaghetti alla Burina ( served with homemade alfredo sauce, bacon, mushrooms, onios, and green peppers), Penne alla Lunanegra (sautéed onions, porcini mushrooms, Italian sausage, and Chianti wine), and the Pollo alla Sorrentino (chicken breast with prosciutto, and a slice of eggplant over a white wine marinara sauce and spaghetti).
O Sole Mio has two locations; on the corner of 241 and Newberry Road in Jonesville, next to Publix and Fuji Sushi, and at 15202 NW 147th Drive in Alachua. Pictured is the Spaghetti alla Burina, and a massive Sicilian-style pizza. The next time you crave some Italian food, give it a try!