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When Judy Barney says she’s excited, her hands wave around, her voice is animated and her eyes sparkle.

Call it the Italian in this former New Yorker, who this month celebrates 20 years as owner of Arturo’s Ristorante Italiano – one of the island’s genuine dining icons.

And right now, like eateries all over Marco, Arturo’s is immersed in the busiest season of the year that runs through April.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Barney said of the extra-busy time – which for Arturo’s means menu tweaks, specials and a new, brighter look to the décor.

For this installment in the Sun Times’ regular restaurant feature, Chef Jonas Arano chose five dishes to highlight – Sea bass Mediterranean; the “world famous” stuffed pork chop; Chicken Abbondanza, Chicken Farcito and the colorful and tasty cold antipasta.

The bass (an occasional special) is sautéed and drizzled with lemon butter sauce, and served with a jumbo shrimp and cherry tomatoes over a bed of spinach. The chop is stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese, and finished with a mushroom Marsala wine sauce.

Chicken Abbondanza is somewhat unique, because Abbondanza is Barney’s original family name. Her dad, upon arrival in the United States, changed it to Barney because nobody could pronounce or remember Abbondanza, she said.

At any rate, the chicken is sautéed in a white wine sauce and served with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. The Farcito, on the other hand, is chicken breast stuffed with homemade sausage, broccoli rabe, mozzarella cheese and mushroom truffle sauce. It is served sliced.

The anti-pasta, Barney explained, is new on the menu, and consists of rolled slices of Genoa salami, prosciutto, supersad (Italian sausage), solid strips of reggiano cheese and Burrata mozzarella, which has a “shell” containing soft curd and cream inside. Other ingredients are sun-dried tomatoes and baby greens.

The restaurant itself has a classy feel, and diners can opt for a main dining room, tables off to the side, or tables near the bar.

If you go:

What: Arturo’s Ristorante Italiano

Where: Bald Eagle Drive near Angler’s Cove on the way to Olde Marco

Type of cuisine: Italian

Pricing: Medium

Catering: Yes

Bar: Full

Take out: Yes (20 percent off if picked up before 6 p.m.)

Extras: Special bread loaves and gorgonzola on sale

Hours: 5 p.m. onwards, Mon-Sun

Reservations: Recommended

Telephone: 642-0550

Facebook: Yes

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