When the sun goes down, Abbondanza restaurant on Simonton Street literally glows. The combination of the yellow exterior and warm lighting from inside is welcoming. You’ll notice the music right away, all those old Italian songs from “GoodFellas” and “Married to the Mob.” It’s like someone’s nonna is inviting you in for dinner, inviting you to “Come, eat!” as she puts “Hey, Mambo” or “That’s Amore” on the old hi-fi stereo.
Abbondanza is open nightly from 5 to 10:30 p.m. And depending on the season, it’s usually pretty busy, with a mix of locals and visitors staying at the hotels at that end of Key West. You can eat at the bar or in one of several dining rooms. The space is much bigger than it looks from outside.
Your meal will start with some really good crusty bread, perfect for sopping up the olive oil/balsamic vinegar combo your server will provide. All pasta entrees come with a small house salad dressed lightly in the house vinaigrette. The salad is the last thing you will see that can be described as small— portions are large and perfect for sharing. You will probably leave with a few to-go containers as well.
Abbondanza is part of the restaurant group that operates Duffy’s, Pieces, and The Commodore. Fresh seafood is a major focus of the menu at each.
Linguine al Pesto con Gamberetti is a local favorite, arriving in the restaurant’s signature white bowls brimming with pasta, pesto sauce and fresh shrimp. If you prefer red sauce with your seafood, go for Linguine Pescatore with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and fish in the house marinara. And you can never go wrong with linguine in clam sauce, available with red or white sauce, of course.
There are filled pastas, including cannelloni stuffed with ground veal and ricotta and topped with tomato cream sauce, and manicotti with ricotta and spinach, topped with marinara. Veal, chicken, or eggplant parmigiana with a side of spaghetti? Check. Lasagna with meat sauce? Of course. Classic stuff, done well.
One of the most popular items, and the one that we order the most, is the Spaghetti Abbondanza—basically a big bowl of spaghetti with marinara, meatballs, and fresh basil. It’s enough for my family of four to share, plus an extra side of meatballs so everyone gets their own. When we are really hungry we start with the restaurant’s generous antipasti platter to eat with that crusty bread. Italian meats, cheeses, olives, pickled vegetables….fuhgetaboutit.
1208 Simonton St.
open nightly from 5 to 10:30 p.m.