Where: Lucianno's Cafe and Banquet Center
Address: 1739 S. Raccoon Road, Austintown
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
By REBECCA NIEMINEN SLOAN
If you’re looking for a lot of great food at an unbelievably low price, look no further than Lucianno’s Cafe and Banquet Center’s all-you-can-eat dinner buffet.
The restaurant offers the buffet from 4 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for just $5.99.
The menu differs slightly from week to week, but the smorgasbord always includes chicken, pasta and Italian sausage and peppers.
During my visit, the buffet also featured salad, a savory wedding soup, green beans, red potatoes, three kinds of pizza, bread and a delicious Italian dessert called pizza fritta.
“This is an old Italian dessert made of dough made from eggs and potatoes,” said owner Bob Lucente, who opened Lucianno’s 38 years ago. “It’s a favorite. Everyone always asks for it.”
Indeed. The pizza fritta was one of my favorite items on the buffet table. The warm, soft dough is shaped into a ball and dipped in sugar and cinnamon and is downright delicious.
Of course, I sampled multiple helpings of more than just the sweet stuff, especially the savory red potatoes, baked chicken, rigatoni with meat sauce and pizza.
I was pleasantly stuffed by the end of my visit; this is truly a lot of good food at a very thrifty price.
The generous spread put me in mind of the cuisine one might enjoy at a wedding reception, so it’s no surprise that Lucianno’s is more than just a restaurant — it’s also a banquet center ready to cater for special events.
“We just hosted a homecoming dance here,” Lucente said while standing in the spacious banquet hall that adjoins the restaurant. “We can seat about 350 people.”
Lucianno’s was originally situated across the street from its present, larger location at 1739 South Raccoon Road in the Wedgewood Plaza.
Lucente opened the restaurant in 1976 and said all of his many children have worked there at one time or another.
“It has always been a family business,” he said.
Aside from the Tuesday/Thursday all-you-can-eat buffet, Lucianno’s offers traditional American fare and Italian fare seven days a week.
The menu includes steak, burgers, fish, Southern fried chicken, pirogis, gnocchi, ravioli and lasagna.
The restaurant also serves breakfast, including an Italian breakfast that boasts two eggs (any style) and a hot sausage patty topped with fried Italian hot peppers. There is a breakfast buffet from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sundays.
Weekly specials include “burger Monday,” which allows patrons to get a hamburger for 1 cent when they buy one burger at regular price, and “pizza Wednesday,” a day when diners can order one pizza at regular cost and get a second pizza for a penny.
Aside from traditional pizza, the menu also offers the Mahoning Valley’s beloved Brier Hill pizza and a Calabria pizza, which is a white pizza topped with fried greens and hot peppers.