Born and raised in Calabria, Italy, Chef Michele Pannia grew up understanding that when it comes to food, it’s often best to do things the old-fashioned way. For nearly 20 years, he has kept this mantra at heart in preparing fresh, homemade pastas each day and sautéing french-cut, bone-in pork chops and organic chicken breasts to order at Trattoria Mediterranea. Through a window that connects the kitchen and dining room, diners gaze at Chef Michele as he prepares his takes on Italian classics. He and his cooks sauté fresh littleneck clams with garlic, tomatoes, and white wine before tossing them with linguini, and they wrap tender veal scaloppini in prosciutto and mozzarella before finishing it with a mushroom sauce. To accompany platefuls of rigatoni, bucatini, and casarecce pastas, Chef Michele encourages his patrons to bring wine from home. Along with the handsomely plated dishes adorning the white tablecloths before them, diners gaze at the ornate drapes, mirrors, and antiques that decorate the neutral-toned dining room. At one end, a red accent wall hosts a still-life painting of a colorful bouquet, while at the other, vintage wooden chests support vases filled with blooming flowers.
Like many chefs from Sicily, Filippo Russo learned to cook by emulating his mother's traditional recipes. But unlike most, he sometimes steps out of his kitchen to entertain diners with his singing and piano playing. At Da Filippo's, the musical chef delights taste buds as much as ears, serving up pastas, seafood, and house specialties. Braised baby octopus and savoy cabbage topped with shrimp highlight a selection of palate-priming appetizers. For the main course, diners can dig into dishes such as risotto with housemade sweet pork sausage and parmigiano reggiano cheese. The signature pasta con le sarde blends bucatini pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, currants, and saffron.
Vivid Italian oil paintings adorn the walls of Milano Grille’s dining room; together with the crisp, white-clothed tables and the soft lights cast by hanging lamps, they create a facsimile of Italy on par with the plates of pasta and meat-based entrees to come. Servers’ heels click against the tile floor as they emerge from the kitchen carrying lunches of paninis, personal pizzas, and calzones or dinners of veal, chicken, and seafood. Though Milano Grille offers full delivery and catering, the restaurant lures guests in to its dining room with a BYOB policy that allows them to bring in their favorite bottle of wine or flask of virgin moonshine.