Caffe Gelato sates appetites with Northern Italian and French- and Mediterranean-inspired fare, house-made gelato, and vino from a 1,500-bottle cellar, all of which has amassed the restaurant an impressive collection of praise and awards from the likes of Delaware Today and Wine Spectator. Meats such as filet mignon and prosciutto-wrapped veal appear alongside a rotating collection of seafood entrees, such as pan-seared scallops, truffle maple-roasted salmon, and local line-caught rockfish. House-made pappardelle and linguine pastas entangle ingredients ranging from littleneck clams to lump crab to chiffonade-cut basil. Twenty-four rotating flavors of gelato are crafted on the restaurant’s premises, delighting tongues with a chocolate-hazelnut blend or scoops of raspberry. Sommeliers strap on their headlamps and crampons to belay into the caverns of the restaurant’s opulent wine cellar, where more than 100 varietals nestle in bottles.
Half-moon booths welcome companionable groups among sunny yellow-and-red-orange walls in the dining room, and the gleam of a granite bar inspires tipplers to toast the memory of loyal pet rocks.
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You could curl up and take a nap in this cozy dining room. During the day, natural light slips through stained glass, painting swatches of color across white tablecloths; at night, the fireplace comes to life. Amid its flickering glow, patrons dine on homemade spinach and mushroom ravioli, broiled branzino in lemon and herbs, and tender new york strip. To complement the sumptuous Italian dishes, La Verona swings a full wine menu as well as delicious cocktails such as the creamsicle and pineapple upside-down.
Executive chef Eric Orsetti crafts hearty, modern spins on classic Italian cuisine using fresh ingredients and homemade pastas and sauces. Elegant openers from the dinner menu can silence megaphoned stomach rumblings and include the steamed littleneck clams with sweet italian sausage and ginger-white-wine sauce ($10). Forks sing when sinking into the homemade lobster-and-tarragon gnocchi ($24), fluffy dumplings that come cosseted by a brandy-tarragon cream reduction, diced roma tomatoes, and micro greens that add a splash of color under a magnifying glass. The comforting smoked chili slow-braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus ($21) inspire diners to pat bellies and chefs' backs.
Chiapparelli's first opened its doors to Baltimore's Little Italy in 1942, regaling diners with a tradition-inspired approach to Old-World cuisine that the founding family's present generations continue to embrace. The chefs simmer pots of ripe tomatoes, onions, and herbs to craft marinara sauce and deftly form meatballs and ravioli by hand. By incorporating steamed clams, lump crabmeat, and fresh kraken, they allow the mid-Atlantic region's maritime ingredients to influence the menu's iconic, transatlantic flavors. In recognition of the family's commitment to hearty and nostalgic Italian cuisine, Zagat praised the menus of both the Little Italy and Havre de Grace locations, rating them each as "very good to excellent."