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.
Pizzeria DaVinci's menu is home to golden calzones and classic grinders, but the restaurant is known best for its thin-crust pizzas made from fresh dough. Because they're cooked on top of a blazing-hot stone, the pies develop a crisp crust that lays the foundation for gourmet toppings such as meatballs, smoked bacon, and gorgonzola cheese.
At Pizzeria DaVinci, the signature house pizza—aptly named the Da Vinci—is a vegetarian one, piled with spinach, sun-dried tomato, and feta. However, there's plenty of meat options on the pizzeria's menu, too. There are 16 thin-crust pizzas to choose from, each baked on a hot stone and topped with delicacies from baked potato fixings to clams and bacon.
Passed from Andy Saldamarco to Tom DeLuca, Saldamarco’s Deli has been a fixture in the community for 33 years, and DeLuca carries on Andy's recipes as he serves up many of the same sandwiches and hot foods such as eggplant parm, chicken parm, meatballs, and sausage and peppers that have kept it a local staple. Saldamarco's was also voted #1 best Italian Deli in the 2013 Best of Shoreline Readers' Poll, #2 for best soups, and #3 for best salads. Freshness is a priority, as all salads are made fresh including tuna salad with Hellman's Mayo and the Deli grinds their own beef with no additives. Housemade roast beef adds tasty weight to soft sub rolls, and freshly cut steaks and pork roasts line the butcher's case alongside strands of housemade italian sausage that are great for grilling in the summer or exercising when a jump rope is unavailable.
In the kitchen of Nuzzo's Apizza, third-generation pizza maker Barry Nuzzo and his team of cooks prepare thin-crust New Haven-style pizzas and Sicilian-style pies layered with ricotta cheese. Patrons can choose from toppings such as bacon, clams, or red peppers roasted on-site, or opt for a specialty pie: the Eggplant Rollatine, for example, which combines eggplant, marinara, ham, ricotta, and Parmesan. The cooks also make gluten-free pizzas, pasta dishes, and submarine sandwiches.