Named for chef Mario Sanfilippo's native Italian town, Porticello Ristorante showcases authentic Italian dishes prepared from traditional recipes. Couples share appetizers such as cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto di parma, a bite that is both sweet and salty like a lollipop's tears. Entrees include the mozzarella-topped veal saltimbocca with mushrooms and sage and the grilled swordfish with hints of lemon, basil, and garlic. Among pastas, gnocchi sorrentino incorporates fresh tomatoes and marinara, and pasta norma dresses penne with fresh basil, plum tomatoes, and caper cufflinks. For dessert, chantilly cream softens flaky pastry dough and diffuses the tart zing of wild berries to create frutti di bosco. Alternatively, spumoni layers cherry, pistachio, and chocolate ice cream to commemorate the flavors of the Italian flag.
Local Sharon Patch readers named Pizzigando Café's french fries the best in town. Their plaudit is backed up by gluten-free pizzas, burgers, and customizable calzones. But the award might also lead guests to try other items in the eatery's diverse culinary portfolio—it serves entrees such as baked lasagna, as well as buffalo wings in orders of 10, 20, 30, or the space in your stomach squared.
Pizzigando Café's décor is as simple and welcoming as the food is flavorful. It features solid-colored tablecloths and soft, mauve walls. The team takes pride in the eatery's journey from a dream to a spot of churned-up earth to a fully established restaurant. They chronicle this progression with a series of photos on their website.
Italy possesses a rich culinary culture, and the chefs at LaStoria Trattoria honor the old-country recipes of Sicily, Rome, and Venice. With an arsenal of imported olive oils, truffle oils, and balsamic vinegars, they whip up classic dishes such as chicken marsala, eggplant parmesan, and veal piccata. Their specialty pastas, meanwhile, incorporate more unorthodox ingredients such as littleneck clams, pink sauce, and toasted crumbs. A brick wood oven bakes an octet of pizzas, which guests can use to teach rudimentary geometry to one another.
Tavolino is Italian for "little table." Noticing the trend of careless service and cooking that pervaded so many chain restaurants, the folks at Tavolino wanted to create a different kind of space—one where the chefs searched for the freshest local ingredients possible and where each "little table" felt supremely cared for. In addition to making their own breads and pastas, the staff infuses their own alcohols with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. The wine list was curated just as carefully, giving diners plenty of reasons to linger in the contemporary, earth-toned space complete with tile mosaic floors.
The crispy pizzas and artfully sauced pastas back up an entree selection that ranges from grilled lamb loin chops to stuffed italian meatloaf made with sweet sausage and served with housemade tomato-basil ketchup. A separate gluten-free menu ensures diners with special diets feel at home, just as the various seafood dishes on the regular menu ensure mermaids feel at home. In his search for the freshest flavors, executive chef Brian Boudreau frequently mixes up the menu with seasonal offerings; butternut-squash tortellacci, for example, summons the flavors of fall with brown-butter-sage sauce, dried cranberries, and an apple-cider glaze.
At Scorpio's, adept culinary artists handcraft robust pizzas, saucy pastas, and savory entrees from zesty spices, an array of organic ingredients, and signature family recipes. Hand-tossed pizzas are made to order with a choice of toppings, such as roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, and house-made meatballs, whirling from piping hot ovens to fill plates with cheesy slices of Sicilian-style pie ($13.99+). Or, opt for one of the restaurant's specialty selections, such as an onion- and mozzarella-slathered barbecue chicken pizza ($13.99 for a large) or the self-named Scorpio, which combines pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, green peppers, onions ($14.99 for a large), and an affinity for long walks on the beach into one hard-to-resist dish.
BonCaldo Restaurant's traditional menu and authentic wood-burning oven set taste buds asail on a culinary voyage to 20 regions of Italy. Wade into Mediterranean waters with the cozze fra diavolo's wild mussels in a spicy San Marzano tomato sauce ($7.95) before reaching the terra firma of the bistecca di manzo, a 12-ounce Black Angus new york sirloin with a portobello mushroom demiglace ($24.95). Pan-seared Taranto Bay shrimp paddle through the gamberi al limoncello ($23.95). Hailing from Piemonte, an Alpine region whose poultry frequently place in the snowboard half-pipe at the Torino games, the pollo mustardo's chicken exterior reveals a core of prosciutto ($17.95). A bright mural of carousers fills one end of BonCaldo's stately dining room, and aromas from brick-oven pizzas ($12.95–$14.95) roam across white table linens and fieldstone walls.