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 first glance, Guru Bar & Grill gives off the impression of a cozy pub considering its exposed brick walls and dim lighting. But deeper inside, the aromatic scent of exotic spices that fills the air clues diners in on Guru's specialty: Indian cuisine. From marinated-chicken masala and lamb curry to spicy shrimp vindaloo and vegetarian aloo gobhi, diners can enjoy a spread of authentic Indian eats for lunch and dinner. Inside the clay oven, 15 types of bread heat up, including potato- and herb-stuffed naan and whole wheat roti. For a sweet ending, servers hand over treats such as mango ice cream and housemade rice pudding infused with cardamom flavors.
BAY LEAF is a Mediterranean cuisine that offers a wide array of diversified foods that share centuries of cultured origins. Utilizing the combination of warm Mediterranean hospitality and the distinctive flavors that define all aspects of the Mediterranean identity: Every dish from the Falafel to the Broccoli Chicken
Native North Enders Vinnie Amato and Steve Costa opened Cafe Porto Bello to revisit the Italian cuisine of their childhoods and re-create the atmosphere of dinners with family. For more than a decade, the café's chefs have prioritized freshness by preparing every dish to order with spices blended in-house and by garnishing gourmet, hand-tossed pizzas with their own roasted red peppers. The dining room is warm and softly lit, with sturdy wooden tables and seating for up to 100. In the adjacent lounge, bartenders pour Italian and American varietals in syncopation or ragtime with live jazz sets.
At Aglia Ristorante, chef Sal's old-world Sicilian culinary roots trellis into a menu of traditional Italian cuisine. Diners wade into five-course waters with basil- and garlic-accented mozzarella slices and handmade chips tossed in rosemary-truffle, barbecue, or sea-salt seasonings. The third-course garden salad temporarily diverts monstrous appetites as they await the main event, presented with deliciously difficult choices including delectable chicken, pork, fish, and steak dishes. Succulent chicken thighs slow-cooked in an herb-infused oil bolster the chicken confit, and a rolled pork loin stuffed with caramelized onions, spinach, and prosciutto fortifies the pork roulade more effectively than shredded polyester. As the meal winds down, guests can savor the final act of the edible libretto with cannoli pastries and espresso.
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.