A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Italian16 Apr 2018 10:30 am

Classic Italian restaurant. Watch out for their monster portions! Insist on good service and don’t be talked into appetizers galore.

1500 Taylor Street
an old Italian neighborhood now taken over by the University of Illinois at Chicago campus (UIC)
(312) 942-1117

Recent visit was great Рhad the pasta fagioli  (bean and pasta soup) with bread and olive oil and grated cheese, followed by the most delicious Italian sausage appetizer with sweet peppers and garlic. The appetizer is really big enough for two to share.

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Italian14 Apr 2018 11:36 am

This true/authentic Italian restaurant opened a few years ago and continues to excel on all fronts. The small (and sometimes noisy) place always presents their seasonal menu with extensive choices (I counted at least 10 appetizers) with a half dozen or so pastas and eight entrees. There are usually 2 or 3 fish choices besides calamari, and mussels are creatively  prepared with changing ingredients. You can occasionally find squid ink pasta and gnocchi variations. Pasta is always prepared al dente, wine choices reasonable (quartinos are served and thus fair pours), and staff is efficient and friendly.

5316 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640

(In the upscale far North side Edgewater neighborhood – ParkChicago metered street parking)



California | Italian | Santa Cruz01 Nov 2016 08:43 am

Gem of authenticity with owners from New York with Sicilian background.

Wow! The Sunday Gravy which took hours to prepare was the perfect Bolognese style pasta sauce (though the word sauce does not give this thick and luscious staple of good cooking any justice). Pat Bruno’s recipe from one of the Chicago newspapers has been attempted in Chicago several times with some success and Lillian’s comes in close.

Appetizers are well prepared; try their gnocchi (they melt in your mouth)! Bread is perfect and wine choices adequate and fairly priced.

Location is great with plenty of parking nearby (and away from the hustle and bustle of “downtown” Santa Cruz and the waterfront).


1148 Soquel Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95062


Closed Monday

Open 4 to 9 pm (Sat & Sun until 10 pm)



A Recent Favorite | California | Fairfax | Italian11 Jan 2014 02:23 pm

Great little spot with wine from casks made to owner’s specifications – both the red and white were good.

Shared freshly made ravioli with pumpkin squash filling – they split the order in the kitchen – always a good sign.

We will definitely be back.

Small spot so reservations would be a good idea during prime dining time.

Fradelizio’s Ristorante Italiano

35 Broadway

Fairfax, CA 94930


Subsequent visit in March 2018 confirmed again great food and service.

Italian | San Francisco05 Dec 2013 09:37 am

This one makes my Top Ten!

Chef/Owner Sergio Giusti brings his home cooking knowledge from a small town near Firenze – and his food is some of the best Italian food I have eaten outside of Italy. He spent time in Chicago for years and knows all of the better Chicago Italian restaurants and their chefs (La Scarola, Piccolo Sogno, Bruna’s, Coco Pazzo, etc.) – I am sorry he left Chicago!

This small, noisy restaurant in a happening part of San Francisco (you definitely need a reservation most nights) has an exciting ambiance (more like a New York spot) Рbut why not go where the in-crowd goes? One of his specialties is gnocchi with a light cream tomato sauce Рthe gnocchi melt in your mouth. The roast chicken is perfectly prepared with the right spices and tenderness. The Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romano was tender with just the right amount of prosciutto and fontina cheese.

Salt alert: none needed here – Sergio does not mask the flavor of his cooking with too much salt – what a concept.

Next time I will have the Malanzane Alla Leonardo Da Vinci – my quest for the best Malanzane continues.

Wine list is thorough but not ridiculous; nice Barbera de Alba and Dolcetta de Alba choices along with other great Italian wines.

Also, the prices are very reasonable.

1429 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 392-8585
Firenze by Night website

California | Italian | San Francisco01 Jan 2006 05:42 pm

The North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco has a multitude of good Italian restaurants – and Rose Pistola came highly recommended by a midwestern visitor – thanks for the recommendation.

Our lunch consisted of several appetizers (though the meal was just this last October I failed to note the choices); also Italian wines by the glass from an interesting selection from many regions.

Next time I’ll take notes and make specific recommendations.

532 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 399-0499

Italian | New York | New York City09 Jun 2005 08:33 pm

Review June 05:

When in Manhattan, why not take a chance. What a place (we were so disappointed in a hotel concierge recommendation the night before that we took a chance on our own instincts and New York Times suggestions).

Damian the head man is a French transplant (wife from Iowa – what an international world we live in – and he appreciates the excellence of Iowa pork tenderloin), and owners are French, Italian and (from) Belgium. But the food is nothing short of great!

Ask for Chris the waiter – an upper peninsula of Michigan transplant who graduated to al Doge after assignment at the American Girls’ Place – no comment.

Wine choices are varied and fair pours the norm.

The grilled vegetable appetizer was perfect – just enough oil with a sprinkling of cheese – and al dente. Definitely enough to share. No salad needed here.

Pasta entrees galore – all we tried were excellent. Check their web site for details. Bread is also excellent.

The two trips to Doge will go on record as some of the best food experiences we’ve had so far. We will return.


142 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 944-3643


Cincinnatti | Italian | Ohio09 Jun 2005 08:09 pm

February 2006 update:

Ok, this time the sauteed spinach/portobella/onion as appetizer, and cheese ravioli with tomato basil sauce and Italian sausage with mushrooms as entree, with good Pinot Noir and a banana bread pudding concoction for desert with good black coffee. You can’t go wrong here. I especially like their subtle approach to the addition of meats to their sauces – just right, not overdone and the portions are ample and not ridiculous. Go for it. Note: unfortunately the sausage dish mentioned below was no longer on the menu – don’t know why.

June 05 review:

My third visit here and discovered I failed to review it before – what a big mistake! This is first class food and circuses!

Prior visits brought me to chicken dishes with Gorgonzola, wonderful roasted garlic AND roasted garlic puree. No vampires in sight – does that make any sense? Wine choices by ths glass include cc, m, pn and cb for reds – all good.

But let’s get serious – you have to try their Salsiccia al Marsala (HOMEMADE and WONDERFUL Italian sausage with mushrooms in a marsala demi-glace). I have never had better sausage. It alone is worth the trip in this somewhat hard to find Cincinnati location.

My entree was Penne alla Cionni (with roasted tomatoes, portabellas tossed in olive oil & garlic with scallions and Gorgonzola). The pasta was al dente (though I specified this when I ordered) and combined the best elements of the multitude of ingredients in a well rounded presentation. You won’t go wrong with this one.

Next time I’ll have to judge their Linguine alla Carbonara; I just can’t get enough pancetta and eggs – maybe I was a farmer in a previous life.

Though I usually don’t have dessert, I did indulge in their Torta di Amaretto. Such a complex creation that I won’t bore you with the details – try it for ourself. Hint: it is a real challenger to Tiramisu.


310 Matson Place
Quenn’s Tower
Cincinnati, OH 45204
(513) 251-6467

call for directions or look at their web site


Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane11 May 2005 08:02 pm

Look out – you have some new converts. Our first visit to La Scarola was on a late Monday evening thinking the wait would be short. Guess we didn’t time things quite right, though the pleasant wait staff (and bartender) made waiting almost a pleasure. A good selection of reds by the glass helped pass the time.

Though the place has been around for awhile, for some reason we resisted this near north west side gem. Our starter was sausage and peppers served with good artisan bread and the usual butter, olive oil, grated cheese and red pepper sides. I like the options though tend to shy away from some of the fats whenever possible. I’ll take my fats in the sausage!

The egg plant parmagiana was a knock out – on a par with Donatella’s. Rigatoni pasta (al dente – amen!) with broccoli and goat cheese tossed with shallots and garlic was delicious with subtle flavors combined to make a memorable dish. A thrown-in side of linguini with vegetable red sauce was taken home – and it too was al dente enough to be edible the next day; what a deal.

The place is a bit cramped – but everyone is smiling and friendly. It was a pleasure to enjoy the experience with no pressing time constraint.

Next time will look at the wine list, and try a meat dish to satisfy my hunter instincts. There is a sharing charge which I don’t approve of in these days of weight watching and portion awareness.


721 West Grand Ave. (just east of Milwaukee and Halsted)
Chicago, IL 60610

$5 valet parking (let’s hope it stays that cheap)
(312) 243-1740


Clearwater Beach | Florida | Italian12 Jan 2005 10:44 am

Returning back to Clearwater Beach, at the end of my beach walk, noticed this “new” place and gave it a try. According to their menu, it is a family owned business (in the general area since 1981 though this location is a new one). Glad I discovered it.

I chose the salad to start with blue cheese dressing – fresh greens with just the right amount of dressing; it was a mild version and not overpowering. Good, hot mini bread loaf accompanied the salad with an olive oil dip. First wine choice was a Sangiovese.

The fettucini carbonara was quite good though a bit too rich – they should take note of Donatella’s and cut back on the cream – and portion size was just about right. The Chianti was the right choice with this dish. No time to look at the wine list, maybe next time when I’m not alone.

In conclusion, I must say that I will return whenever in Clearwater Beach. Though there seems to be a lot of development going on, it’s always nice to find a family owned business succeeding with so many franchises around.

My rating: Breads 3, Circuses 2.5, Value 2.5
Overall rating 8 out of 15

435 Mandalay Avenue (located across from the Hilton)
Clearwater Beach, FL
(727) 445-1155


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