I love Italian food. My family contains more Rosas', Tonys and Marias than an episode of the Sopranos. Francesca's took me back to a very happy time and place of my life. Usually I avoid restaurants like this, being of the opinion nobody does it like my family, so why spend the money to make what I can (and do) produce at home? Francesca's transported me to the kitchen of my grandmother, a place where a no nonsense tradition of taking the freshest (usually bought that morning) ingredients and letting them speak for themselves let you know how much you were loved. I went there with my roommate expecting good food after many of my co-workers sang its praises. I did not, however, expect to be impressed to the point of ordering an extra meal to take home just so the experience would not end. The pizza makes you want to go "Saint Valentine's day massacre" on anyone who would dare use the same word for what most of us have regrettably learned to accept from the slingers of doughy, acid sauced delivery garbage. The white pie with spinach arrived on a heavenly light crust which stood aside politely while the cheeses and herbs managed to make both my roommate and myself utter words which would have gotten me slapped as a kid. The mussels marinara (our appetizer) featured sauce so fresh and perfectly cooked a person would think the mussels had volunteered for the job. The key here is flavor. Made to appear effortless and deceptively simple, the food takes the Italian notion of just a few ingredients standing out without any need for pretense and runs with it until you are convinced someone has flown either your grandmother or her sisters in for the weekend. The tortellini with chicken and cream sauce made my lunchtime companion immediately ask me why I don't cook like this every night. The reason is simple: Now that I know Francesca's is in the neighborhood I can take a night off comfortable in the fact I will not be diappointed. From the culinary uninitiated to the hardest, usually cynical old school Italian, there isomething at this place to make you very happy and (in my case) very comfortably full. The highest praise I can give this place is Grandma would have loved it. In my family, that says it all. Fresh, unpretencious food served by friendly, attentive people who love what they are doing. It shows in every bite, from your starter to the homemade dessert for which you know somehow , some way, you will make room, Francesca's is an affordable pleasure.
Grandma was a no BS, skip the flowery adjectives kind of lady, so here it is: Go there hungry and with enough people to order a little of everything. You will leave happy and satisfied, but remember to grab a to go menu. With prices better or equal to those of the ridiculous chain mills, do yourself a favor and eat here. Flavor wins every time. I give this place the "Grandma would love it here" seal of approval. You can't do better than that.
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