PEKIN — For some diners at Sangalli's Italian Steakhouse, it may be a bit of a homecoming. It certainly is for the owner.

When Dave Sangalli opened the restaurant at 2217 Court St., he did so in a space his parents had operated Sangalli's Court Street Steakhouse during the 1980s and '90s. After that eatery shuttered, the space spent the next two decades as a Mexican joint before he began to renovate it for a different setting.

They've done a nice job of doing so. The interior is sleek and fairly bright, with pieces of reclaimed wood for doors and gates on the walls to convey a bit of a homey or rural atmosphere.

It's clean, comfortable and conversation-friendly for group gatherings and friendly dinners, rather than an overly formal and stuffy setting of higher-end restaurants or the circus-like feeling you have at some chain steakhouses with peanut shells strewn about on the floor.

There's a convivial bar area off to the side as you walk in, but we headed to the dining room, which had a pleasant buzz of conversation going on a weekday evening. The menu combines standard Italian and steakhouse options, along with a variety of sandwiches, burgers and flatbread pizzas, with prices on point for a neighborhood restaurant. A more limited offering — no steaks, but otherwise a similar menu — is available for lunch.

Our server wasted little time in getting us started with cocktails, the restaurant's Sangalli spritzer ($6) and a Negroni ($6.50). Both use the slightly bittersweet orange liqueur Aperol, the former along with sweet prosecco wine and soda water; the latter with gin and vermouth and an orange garnish. My guest found the liqueur a bit of an acquired taste; I'd have happily had another of either. One of our companions also got a glass of house red wine ($4 for any of six varieties, red or white), which was passable and well-priced.

Our appetizer turned the tables a little on its standard expectations. Ordinarily for bruschetta ($6.95), you would expect tomato, garlic, basil and some cheese. Thankfully, in a season without fresh tomatoes at hand, this iteration is really more of a miniature veggie pizza — chopped peppers, onions and olives with cheese piled on bread rounds drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

My guest had the Sangalli signature steak ($24.95), a 12-ounce cut of ribeye with a savory cognac-mushroom cream sauce — delicious with a smattering of steak fries and a side salad included, though the medium rare we ordered may have edged a bit closer to a medium, which sometimes happens.

Another guest who joined us had the restaurant's whole catfish dinner ($16.95), which you can order fried, broiled or blackened. He walked away quite full and satisfied, with little more than a fish skeleton left on the plate.

With steak and seafood taken care of, I strayed to the Italian side of the menu, sampling the standard spaghetti and meat sauce ($10.95). It's not the never-ending bowl of sauce-from-a-jar pasta you might get elsewhere, but it's more than enough food for a sitting with thick, lightly sweet meat sauce and a generous helping of pasta.

If you've got room, there are also a handful of desserts on offer — cheesecake and bread pudding.

Chris Kaergard can be reached at ckaergard@pjstar.com or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.