One of my favorite restaurants in all of Southwest Florida is Donato’s Italian Restaurant in Port Charlotte. The menu is simple, consistent, great southern Italian cooking that reminds me of the old neighborhood restaurants back in North Jersey where I grew up. On my most recent visit, one of the owners, Dennis Valentino, came up to me to talk about some of their new menu items. They are now featuring a few risotto dishes which they have added to their menu. While I am always a little leery about trying a risotto dish because it often is poorly prepared and dried out, I decided to try their risotto with fennel sausage and arugula, despite the fact that I went there with my heart set on chicken parmesan.

After having my favorite appetizer of mussels marinara and trying not to fill up on too much bread dipping it in the extra sauce, the sausage risotto was presented to me. The aroma was fabulous before I even tasted it. After my first taste, I was extremely happy that I tried it. The risotto itself was creamy and delicious. Their sausage, as always, was full of flavor and the peppery flavor of the arugula really added a nice kick to the flavor of the risotto and worked well with the fennel taste of the sausage. It was a wonderful dish which I truly enjoyed and I look forward to going back to try their other new risotto dishes. If you would like to try Donato’s, it is located at 1900 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte right next to the Lowes shopping plaza.