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Randazzo's Little Italy

Natalia Molina
You want risotto with truffle essence? Fuhgeddaboutit. This is a red-sauce joint. The food is not fancy-schmancy northern Italian, or authentically Italian at all. It's Italian-American, a simple, honest soul-food genre developed a century ago by impoverished southern Italian immigrants. And gregarious chef/owner Marc Randazzo, a former boxer, does it right, just like his grandma did in Chicago's Little Italy. The pasta is al dente; the "Sunday gravy" tomato sauce on the spaghetti meatballs is as robust as the Sicilian sunshine; the clams are fight-back fresh in the seafood linguine; the portions are humongous; the prices are modest; the ambiance is festive; and the music tape features nothing more recent than "That's Amore," which plays at least once an hour. Diners munch another of Mama's monster-size meatballs and sing along.