Dining With Denise Neil

Devoted pasta fans say Italian eatery worth a trip to Newton

Genova Italian Restaurant is a popular Newton destination.
Genova Italian Restaurant is a popular Newton destination.

When I was writing my story last week about Wichita’s best pre-meal bread, I became aware of an Italian restaurant it appears we all need to try.

Genova Italian Restaurant opened at 1021 Washington Road in Newton a little more than a year ago. It’s owned by a St. Louis restaurateur, who hired St. Louis cook Rosie Martin to move to Newton and run his new restaurant. Martin, who is becoming one of Newton’s most popular residents, manages the restaurant and cooks.

Martin’s father is Italian, and her mother is Spanish. She grew up in Spain but has a talent for Italian cooking, preparing dishes like rigatoni bolognese, spinach lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, baked ziti, shrimp tortellini and chicken Alfredo. Martin says that the Cecelia Special, which features shrimp and crab ravioli topped with a creamy artichoke sauce and fresh asparagus, is one of the restaurant’s best sellers.

The bread, of course, is also a draw. Martin makes the yeast dinner rolls fresh every morning and serves them to each table along with a side of Mediterranean dipping oil that includes sun dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, garlic and onion. Diners also love the Genova special chicken, topped with Canadian bacon, black olives and red peppers and served over spaghetti in alla panna sauce.

I’ve spoken to several Newton residents who say Genova is now their favorite restaurant and that it’s helping to ease the pain of the recent loss of Reba’s Restaurant, which closed earlier this month after 11 years in business.

One of those fans is Newton resident Donna Mills, who wrote to me expressing her love for Genova – and its manager.

“They make all their own pasta, and paired with the marinara sauce, it’s heavenly,” Mills said. “Their menu is huge, and I’m working my way through it. And the owner waits tables and is gracious. A real regal Italian lady.”

Genova doesn’t yet have a liquor license, but Martin said she’s making plans to expand the restaurant and hopes to get one then. Genova’s popularity is making an expansion imperative, she said.

“Every weekend or sometimes from Thursday on I have the restaurant completely crowded, and sometimes, I have a 30-minute wait,” she said.

Genova is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 316-587-8099. Or, if you want to salivate over photos of pasta, visit Genova’s Facebook page.