The aroma of freshly baked bread often wafts from the kitchen of La Vita Gustosa, greeting guests who step through the restaurant's window-paneled doors. That scent mingles with others as chef James Wilder sautés plump, opened clams in olive oil, crushed red pepper, and white wine, braises bone-in pork shank for tender osso bucco, and drizzles balsamic glaze over hand-cut new york strip steaks. Rich sauces cling to strands of linguini and orecchiette "ears," and fresh produce from local farms tops New Haven–style thin-crust pizzas.
After enjoying a meal at the eatery, whose polished wood bar complements sunny yellow walls, one Hartford Courant writer described La Vita Gustosa's ambiance as "classy, romantic, casual, warm and inviting." In warm weather, diners can relax on an outdoor patio with a clear view of Connecticut River and Goodspeed Opera Theater. Live bands, dance parties, and spontaneous reenactments of Broadway musicals keep the fun going long after dinner has ended.