Growing up with a father who professed to be a socialist democrat, we were always boycotting something. For 10 years, not a succulent green grape entered our house. We boycotted on behalf of so many striking workers, we had to take Dad shopping with us just to know what we couldn’t buy that week. Dad loved Sorrento’s, but the day the blind piano player made a racial slur in 1967, our boycott began. Dad, the piano player, and the original owners have long since passed on, so I officially ended the family protest. It felt good to be cleaning that last bit of marinara off my plate again with a thick slice of Italian bread. This marinara is not overly cooked, overly chunky, or overly sweet. It’s more authentic American Italian than what you get at the Giovanni-come-lately Italian chains. And you can get it with all the traditional stuff underneath, like meatballs, mostaccioli, or eggplant parmigiana. And leave room for a slice of tiramisu (above). Sorrento’s is truly a classy little Italian place, just out front of Collision World—the kind of restaurant where regulars put off retiring to Florida and weather Cincinnati winters because they’d miss the Tuesday special. It may surprise you to see more people with a burger or chicken salad sandwich than pasta at lunch; that comes from being a cucina before being a cucina was cool. Heck, if they took those longstanding items off the menu, they’d probably have another boycott on their hands.
8794 Reading Rd., Reading (513) 821-6666. Prices: $8–$25 Lunch Mon–Fri, dinner seven days.
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