My GF treated me to a terrific birthday dinner at Pastalina's in Medford last night (I know you're out in Chowhound land, BTW, so another big thank you for the great meal!). In addition to the wonderful homemade pastas and outstanding salad, it was a laugh a minute there. Between the funny and gregarious waitress and the guys taking hilarious pot shots at each other at the table across from us, it was a memorable night for sure!
As for the food: The scampagnata antipasto was perfect, with various Italian cold cuts and fresh strips of mozzarella cheese. The tortellini with homemade "gravy" and grated cheese was fabulous, and also very filling, as I took about half of it home. The veal brociolettine was even better, with an exquisite marsala sauce that had a sweetness to it that simply made the dish. And the waitress gave us some of her very own heart-shaped brownies that she had made, as well as chocolate-covered strawberries. By the way, Pastalina's in BYO, so she was nice enough to run across the street and get us a bottle of merlot.
Now for the folks who were sitting across from us in the little dining room: They were 5 of the funniest guys you'll ever meet; a cross between Imus in the Morning and Oceans Eleven, with each of them ripping the other throughout the meal with cracks that had us on the floor laughing at times. They were also salt of the earth types who talked to us throughout the evening, and helped make it an even more enjoyable night for us. I guess they are there every week, so I'm sure I'll run into them again soon.
With all due respect to Potbellies Kitchen and Cafe Polonia in South Boston, and Cafe Azteca in Lawrence, I have to say that Pastalina's was probably the best overall dining experience I've had in the past six months. I can't wait to start digging into the leftovers today!