The yellow flag on the white clapboard building above two bay windows on Duval means you have found one of the best Italian restaurants in Key West, Antonia’s. Owners Antonio Berto and Phillip Smith (also the chef) have created a comfortable, yet sophisticated restaurant in a candlelit wood paneled room with a cozy bar, creative food and the freshest of ingredients. Everything is made from scratch and the owners travel to Italy every year to seek out new recipes and ingredients.

The menu changes daily but some recurring items are worth a try. All the pastas are freshly made(you can watch them each morning in the front window) and at the very least should be tried as an appetizer. Any veal dish is succulent and perfectly cooked. I’ve had a delicious grilled veal chop and veal marsala. Linguine Cousteau, home-made linguine with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, yellowtail, fresh tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of red pepper and finished with Italian parsley is a delight and the rack of lamb cooked with rosemary was mouthwatering.

The New York Times called Antonia’s Key Lime Pie the best in Key West, quite an accomplishment in a town where everyone makes an attempt. My favorite was a Chocolate Fondant, a melt-in-your mouth delicate chocolate cake served warm with raspberry and mango sauces.

The wine list is extensive and heavy on good Italian choices. Pricing is very reasonable.

After dinner, the bar has a nice selection of after dinner drinks, port, grappa and single malt scotches.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Medium. Ask for a table in the window, it’s a little more intimate than in the bustling center of the room.

“One of Key West’s all-time favorites is this haute Italian that gets much amore for its heavenly fare, polished service and elegant setting that provides a respite from rowdy Duval Street; it’s been charming locals for over 25 years, and given the praise from all corners, it’ll be a winner for many more…” ZAGAT