www.escopazzo.com We love our spaghetti and meatballs as much as the next diner, and we delight in a deftly grilled chicken breast dressed in balsamic-drizzled greens, but we'll leave those dishes for the plethora of little neighborhood pasta joints to produce. When we want our concepts of Italian cuisine expanded, our senses jolted, and our expectations surpassed, we make reservations at Escopazzo. The 90-seat dining room and cozy indoor courtyard elicit rustically romantic flashbacks to some Tuscan trattoria you may have visited long ago. Chef/owners Pino and Giancarla Bodoni nudge guests toward such nostalgia by way of their hospitality, helped along by the waitstaff's doting service and a kitchen crew that excels in producing gutsy contemporary takes on traditional regional foods. The menu is without peer: carpaccio of Scottish salmon marinated in fennel and orange; salad of roasted beets in goat cheese and coriander sauce and topped with slices of black truffle; fresh ravioli plumped with tiny croutons, truffled sheep's milk cheese, porcini mushrooms, and oxtail jus; Bell & Evans chicken; grass-fed New Zealand beef; Neiman Ranch pork chop; Alaskan halibut with foie gras sauce -- cuisine here is defined by quirkiness, quality, and unqualified deliciousness. You simply can't get Italian food like this anywhere else, and the extensive wine cellar contains enough bottles to match every fantastic flavor.
Readers´ Choice: Caffé da Vinci