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Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Nino Sindona was surrounded by the best of design, fashion and food. He was known by friends and family as a gastronome, yet was teased for studying and perfecting his own recipes over years of travel.

After years of developing recipes, Sindona eventually curated his recipes down to precise measurements. These recipes have been taught to each of his chefs at Trattoria Padana in Fort Myers. The new restaurant at 4391 Colonial Blvd., Suite 104, offers what Sindona calls real Italian cuisine over Italian American food, where the main difference is simplicity and authenticity.

“Italian food is getting better and better in Italy,” he said. “Always more sophisticated, fantastic dishes. Trattoria is a name you have in Italy for casual food. So, trattoria food is classic like a Bolognese or a spaghetti carbonara.”

The roots of Italian American dishes date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when a wave of Italian immigrants moved to North America. Often from southern, less wealthy regions where meat was scarce, the creation of heavily meat and sauce-centered dishes became the staple for Italian American cuisine after arrival.  dining room at Trattoria Padana

Steering clear from dishes like chicken parmesan, deeming it as not an Italian dish, the restaurant sticks to classic food, showcased on the menu by dishes such as tagliatelle fresche alla bolognese, risotto ai frutti di mare and filetto di dentice alla griglia.

“Whenever they tell me ‘Well, why do you try to make real Italian food when Americans want alfredo with shrimp on top’ and I understand that, but I have discovered around the world that when I give people good food in every country, they understand it,” Sindona said.

Throughout his travels, Sindona learned how to incorporate cooking skills and techniques from peers in places like Thailand, Hong Kong, Spain and Brazil, where he opened a few restaurants.

As far as what dish to try on a first visit to Trattoria Padana, Sindona said it just depends on the customer’s cravings that day.

“I have a principle that I’m going to put on the menu only an item that is perfect because by traveling the world I’ve always found some restaurants are fantastic for two dishes and the rest is just okay,” he said. “I never wanted to do that.” Food at Trattoria Padana

While Sindona said all dishes are on the same playing field, he deemed his Bolognese, carbonara and pesto sauces to be more than just worth the try.

Along with serving an assortment of pasta, risotto and meat and seafood dishes, Trattoria Padana also serves desserts like tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake and affogato al caffè, an Italian dessert, where sweet ice cream meets hot and strong espresso coffee.

The current menu is anticipated to expand, along with the addition of an express system around lunchtime to serve pizza and sandwiches in the near future. The hours of operation are from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with differing closing hours on weekends.

Sindona rejects the idea of high-status restaurants, saying they are just for show and not longevity even though enjoyable. Customers can expect to be greeted with a simple restaurant design, simple food, but all with the highest quality at Trattoria Padana.

“When you sell trattoria, simple Italian-style food, people will come forever,” Sindona said.

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