Rediscover this Wilton Manors institution and your palate will be grateful

You know those landmarks that for some reason become blurs — the familiar places that you somehow overlook when you are going out to eat?  Bona Italian Restaurant on Wilton Drive, Wilton Manor, is one of those places that you need to re-discover if you haven’t visited in a while.

Now under the new ownership of Glen Weinzimer (of Smart Ride fame), and with the expertise of Mark Byrd, Bona is better than ever.

The décor is being upgraded and there are plans for Avi Ram, famed airbrush artist and contestant on Skin Wars, Season 2, to paint a mural. Gone are the plastic coverings over the tablecloths, now replaced with white butcher paper.

But the food is what matters most. The menu is basically the same with all the great Italian sauces, selections and quality for which Bona has been known.

I am always in the mood for calamari and use that as a litmus test for how the rest of the meal will be.  The Fried Calamari ($13) has been perfected to an art form. When paired with their Garlic Knots ($5.99), the flavor profile is amazing.

While dining out, it is always worthwhile to engage your server who typically knows the best items on the menu. I went with the recommendation of the Chicken Cyriac ($19.95), named in honor of the head chef.  The dish starts with spicy blackened chicken, is crowned with an amazing garlic cream sauce with toasted almond slices and then placed over rigatoni pasta.  You will definitely need to save some of your garlic bread knots to sop up the sauce for this dish.

Are you looking for seafood?  The Jumbo Shrimp and Scallop Scampi ($26.95) is incredible. On the next visit I will definitely order the Fazzoletti ($29.95) which has bite-sized gourmet pasta stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto and comes with a carbonara sauce with bacon, onion, and peas.

For those looking for something on the lighter side, Bona will gladly substitute fresh spinach for any pasta.  They have thought about everything and are willing to go the extra mile to make everyone’s meal exceptional.

To wrap up this fantastic meal and dining experience, Glen and his crew brought out some amazing desserts from Mimi’s Italian Restaurant in Hollywood.  Bona has decided to go with perfection and quality instead of “thaw-and-serve” from a food company.

The cannoli ($5.95) was fresh while managing to be both creamy and crunchy. Simply stated, it was heaven in my mouth.

Even though I do not like the taste of coffee, Mimi’s tiramisu ($5.95) was light and airy and the whipped cream was delicate and flavorful.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop for a cappuccino and a dessert if a full meal isn’t among your plans.  It could be a great end to an evening out.

Whatever you do, go re-discover the gem that is Bona Italian RestauranFor more information, go to BonaItalianRestaurant.com