La Dolce Feeder

In the capable hands of chef Alan Hughes, seafood entrees take on a simple sophistication that leaves pastoral meadows behind. A grilled salmon fillet was a little too rare for the taste of one of my companions, but the sunset-red flake and flavor of the fish were outstanding; an accompanying warm white-bean salad was moistened with a basil-infused olive oil. Quality was also a key word for the grilled tuna. A thick cut grilled to an interior dark pink, the tuna was accented with a tangy tomato, caper, and olive relish. Sauteed grouper was a stunning rendition of Florida's favored fish, pan-roasted to a remarkable outer crispness. Giant, meaty flakes retained all of their moisture thanks to a light seal of salt and oil; a side dish of spinach doused with olive oil and flecked with roasted garlic was a fitting accompaniment.

We chose our dessert from a lovely list of dolci and cordials. Burnt-orange bread pudding, fresh strawberries with honey mascarpone, and hazelnut semifreddo were certainly tempting, but we opted for the pleasure of torta di cioccolato, a rich chocolate cake. A brownielike, pie-shape slice, the oven-hot sweet was decorated with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and large ripe raspberries.

Fellini's California and Italian wine list is small but moderately priced, ranging from the low $20 range to $95 for a bottle of Mondavi's Opus One (a decent buy). Waitstaff and management are consistently friendly and effective, and each successive meal at this restaurant was the equal of the one before -- or surpassed it. No need for early-bird specials here. Good service and great fare don't require any gimmicks.

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