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Gusto! Ristorante Italiano
Romantic and very Italian, this intimate little restaurant features an enticing menu of well-prepared regional specialties, mostly from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Best of all, the hands-on owners make everyone feel like part of la famiglia.
If you doubt that polished service is the foundation of a fine meal, you haven’t been to Il Bacio, the cozy ristorante in Little Italy, where mellifluously accented host and owner Antonino Calandra heads up one of the most gracious teams in town. That, plus Calandra’s voluptuous take on tiramisu, go far toward making Il Bacio as sweet as its name’s translation: The Kiss.
If you weren't born into an Italian family, dining at this unpretentious Solon restaurant could be the next best thing. Chef-owner Jimmy Daddano makes all his sauces from traditional recipes: Yeasty garlic rolls, slathered with butter and cheese, arrive fresh from the oven, and Jimmy's mom makes the homemade desserts from scratch.
Dark, intimate, and timelessly elegant, this manly little jewel box of a restaurant is the sort of place you suggest when you want to impress the boss, wow a date, or just remind yourself why you work so damn hard. The menu is crammed with upscale Italian specialties, including some stunning risottos and one of the city's finest long-boned veal chops; at lunch, though — pssst — the char-grilled burger is out of this world.
Dimly lit, slightly scruffy and immensely popular with the locals, circa-1949 Luigi's is the epitome of old-style pizza parlors, complete with Chianti in straw-covered bottles. (It is also alleged to be the inspiration for "Montoni's" in Tom Batiuk's Funky Winkerbean.) Personal faves include the cheese-smothered tossed salad, the ultra-gooey lasagna and of course, the prize-winning pizza, loaded with zesty toppings.
Once you get past the fact that this restaurant is in an upscale fashion mall and nowhere near our real Little Italy, you’re likely to enjoy the elegant, 1950s-style decor and the big menu of well-prepared southern Italian standards served in oversized portions just right for sharing. Private parties, banquets, and corporate events are other house specialties.
Every college campus needs a nearby spot like Mama Santa's, with its retro vibe, cheap wine, and stunningly inexpensive Italian eats. Thin, greaseless, crisp-crusted pizza is the specialty of the casa; when you and the gang can score a 15-incher for less than 10 bucks, who cares if there's a wait for a table?
We've seen hallways bigger than this tiny Italian restaurant, but the intimate ambiance and robust food are ample compensation for the lack of elbow room. The small menu has the usual pasta, chicken, and veal dishes, all well-prepared and flavorful. And the hand-tossed, stone-baked pizzas are notable for their crisp, almost wafer-thin crusts. Impressive all-Italian wine list.
Trained in Italy’s Piedmont region, talented chef-owner Michael Annandono tackles an ambitious repertoire of mostly northern Italian fare with consistently delicious results. We can rarely resist the delicate homemade pastas, served in a room that is as elegantly understated as the food itself. Italian and Californian wine list.
Upscale, casual dining emphasizing fresh, seasonal foods in pizzas, pastas and seafood. An extensive wine and cocktail list is available for the grownups; a kids' menu features smaller portions for little stomachs.
Our pick for one of the best "casual eats" values in town, this nicely appointed osteria inside Whole Foods Market offers sit-down dining, friendly service, and a small but appealing menu of freshly prepped Italian fare at prices you'd be hard-pressed to match at home. Drinkers can choose from an inexpensive beer and wine list or buy a bottle at retail, which staffers will uncork and pour for free.
A stone's throw from West Sixth and a few steps below the pavement, an after-dinner martini crowd gathers at this candlelit Italian restaurant's bar.
Flavorful, home-style menu: chicken piccata, eggplant parmesan, broccolini (fettucine with a broccoli sauce) and specialty pizzas. It’s intimate in the dining room, but there’s always takeout.
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