They’ve been open about seven months now, and they’re doing brisk business for lunch. Many of the tables are full and it’s no wonder. imho, this is the best place in the area at the moment. This is an Italian restaurant. They speak Italian and expatriate guests come in and are welcomed like family. Mamma’s in the back, Christina is up front, and there are various others serving, busing and checking-in with the diners.
After you order, along with your drinks you are given a basket of toasted Italian bread slices with a cup of slightly spicy tomato sauce for dipping.
The pulpo, or grilled octopus had a thick grilled flavor, but it was by far my least favorite dish. It was served over a salad with potatoes. But it must have been cooked much earlier as it was not hot, and it had a layer of oxidation. The various textures of the dish were interesting, but the octopus itself was not as fresh as I was expecting.
Far better, and worthy of many return visits, was the pasta. It’s very fresh and handmade. The tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce was piping hot, with noodles that had that scrumptious fresh texture. The Bolognese combined the creamy meat and tomato sauce perfectly. While a little salty, this dish is a winner.
Also a winner is the quatro stagioni pizza. The crust is obviously fresh, thin but not cracker thin. It’s divided into four quadrants: chunks of ham, sliced black olives, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. This is a great pizza to share between 2 people as you get 2 slices of each topping. And it’s pretty big for one person to finish.
Let me just say that the mushrooms on this pizza were game changing. They aren’t the sliced button mushrooms you find on other pizzas. These were dark and quartered instead of sliced. And they had a deep, rich mushroom flavor. I don’t know how they did it, maybe they sauté them beforehand, but this was like eating a side dish of mushrooms…but on a pizza.
The artichoke heart and olive sections of the pizza were better than many other pizzas with these toppings, but were really nothing special: basic out-of-the-can toppings.
The ham section, however, was interesting in that the ham and cheese combination tasted like a croque monsieur. The cheese had become creamy, and melded beautifully with the saltiness of the ham. This was a real treat.
It’s the same menu for lunch and dinner, except you can get paninis for lunch. And the pricing is decidedly dinner-level. The pizza for example was $14. It’s not completely unreasonable, but for lunch it’s at the higher end of the scale. However for this high quality, for me it’s worth it.
5732 Melrose (between Vine and Gower)
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