Anyone who has ever traveled to a different country knows that sampling the local cuisine is a sure-fire way to experience the essence of the culture. Visit Mexico and you cannot leave with enjoying chilaquiles, tamales, or authentic mole sauce. Leave Ireland without trying bangers and mash or depart Australia before dining on a chiko roll and your experience is lacking.

Likewise, a visit to Italy must involve such delicacies as bigoli, tortellini, caccincco, ravioli, and prosciutto. Many of us, however, will likely never make it across the pond. Does that mean we are sentenced to a life of Campbell’s spaghetti o’s or beef ravioli? Fortunately, no. There is another way thanks to Moorhead’s Altony’s Italian Café.

Altony’s is somewhat of a secret to many area residents. Located in a small building on Highway 10 East that used to house a Taco Bell, Altony’s is an unassuming restaurant that doesn’t rely on flashy marketing strategies or gaudy billboards. Instead, Altony’s focuses on providing diners with an authentic Italian experience, trusting that word-of-mouth is the only advertising they need.

One visit to Altony’s and a few truths emerge. Not only are the restaurant’s signature meals affordable, the portions are huge. All food is made from scratch and served as three courses – salad, the entrée, and ice cream. Yes, I said it. Ice cream is included in the meal. Does it get any better?

Although much of Altony’s focus is on Italian food, the restaurant also offers American favorites such as chicken strips and grilled chicken. Most diners don’t go to Altony’s, however, for the burgers; it is all about Italy. Diners can start with an authentic Italian appetizer like bruschetta, calamari, or ravioli before moving on to one of the restaurant’s signature entrees.

Altony’s primary dishes include delicacies like seafood ravioli, grilled salmon, Tuscany pork tenderloin, ratatouille, Rosa tortellini, steak penne alfredo, or my personal favorite, Antony’s famous lasagna. If you can eat even half of the gigantic portion you have my utmost respect. It is usually enough for at least two meals, and if you think Altony’s food is amazing the first time, wait until you enjoy the leftovers.

In addition to its extraordinary menu, Altony’s also offers a dining atmosphere that is charming and intimate. With a focus on warmth and genuine hospitality, the restaurant is able to create an authentic Italian experience that highlights the importance of good food and a family to share it with.

If you have never been to Altony’s Italian Café, you truly do not know what you are missing. Located at 3102 Highway 10 East, the restaurant is the closest many of us will ever get to Italy. It is well worth the visit.

Altony’s is open Monday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. More information including a full menu and description of nightly specials can be found at


By Jamee Larson