Natalia’s is more than just a place to see and be seen. It’s a place that’s spent years cultivating the art of delighting diners with its eye-catching culinary concoctions and European sensibilities.
Self-described as “Italian at heart,” Natalia’s owner, Natalia Del Basso Orsini, wished to open an Italian restaurant so she could bring to Macon the foods she knew and loved best. After working six years at Leo’s, a popular downtown Macon restaurant at the time, her wish came true.
Natalia opened her doors to Macon in 1984, making her dream not only a reality but also a success. As almost anyone in the business world could tell you, the restaurant business is a highly risky and competitive market; but Natalia’s has stood the test of time.
Natalia’s success is no small feat in a town like Macon, where restaurants wither away faster than a picked peach in the hot Georgia sun. Natalia’s, on the other hand, rests comfortably on the precipice of its twentieth anniversary. Clearly, Natalia is a successful entrepreneur who knows exactly how to keep her customers coming back for more.
The freestanding restaurant that houses Natalia’s thrives in a nondescript building in an outdated Riverside Plaza. But “location is everything,” many say . . . or is it? Evidently, good food, décor, atmosphere, and service take precedence over this old adage.
There is a striking difference between the coldness of the plaza’s vacuous, asphalt parking lot and the warm and inviting interior that welcomes you upon entering the restaurant. An eclectic approach has been taken with the décor here: A deep, lush red color covers the walls, along with various wall-hangings, such as mirrors, photos, and paintings. A very prominent china cabinet rests in the main dining room. Shaded candles cast their glow, and billowing fabric adorns the ceiling, to create a romantic ambiance. The décor creates an overall European-country effect.
Natalia’s is attractive to everyone, from the affluent and trendy diners to those looking to celebrate a special occasion or have a romantic and relaxing dining experience. Needless to say, this sort of atmosphere would be best enjoyed outside the company of children. Perhaps this is why you will find that the restaurant does not make any special provisions for children—but then again, it doesn’t exclude them either.
The restaurant has a vast selection of domestic and imported wines. The wine list is accompanied by a sizeable menu with a variety of food selections. Hot and cold appetizers are in abundance and range from traditional Italian Antipastis like Carpaccio to more unique selections like Beluga Caviar. The appetizers are exceptional and should not be passed up. In fact, on my last visit, I was tempted to make a meal out of them.
Instead, I ordered two of the appetizer specials as well as a soup—all outstanding. For my soup I had Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Corn Bisque with a Black Bean Swirl, which was presented in a Yin-Yang design. The design complemented the subtle, soothing, and harmonious flavor of the soup, which I thought was a particularly nice touch. For my appetizers, I enjoyed a Jumbo Sea Scallop stuffed with oriental rice, lump crabmeat and scallions served over a sweet and sour sauce. This was garnished with beer-battered lobster meat. I also had Lobster and Shrimp Risotto with Green Peas and Parmesan. The appetizers’ presentations were similar in style but nonetheless very attractively arranged, as well as flavorful.
Entrées include pastas, sea foods, and various meats such as steak, chicken, duck, or veal. I chose the Vitello Saltimbocca for my entrée. I found the veal to be very tender and the Marsala wine, which is the signature of this dish, was distinctly discernible among the mellowing flavors of the prosciutto and mozzarella cheeses with which it had been stuffed.
I enjoyed my meal but had eaten far too much to finish my entrée, let alone a dessert. I opted to have my dessert to go. I selected Tiramisu with a dollop of Zabaglione on the side. As it is a very traditional Italian dessert, I have had it dozens of times at various Italian restaurants, but I have to say this was by far the best version I’ve had thus far. It was a delicious end to a satisfying meal.
- Cuisine: Northern Italian
- Alcohol: Full bar; with a sizeable selection of imported and domestic wines
- Dress Requirements: Business casual
- Extras: Catering
- Reservations: Preferred
- Price Range: Dinner entrees range from $11–$22
- Smoking: There is a small smoking section in addition to the bar
- Seating Capacity: 100
- Children: No special provisions available
- Hours: Private lunches available | Dinner, Monday–Friday, 5:30–10:30 p.m.
Address: 2720 Riverside Plaza, Macon.