Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

Trattoria Branica

"Cheap" is such a crass word, so let's call Trattoria Branica "inexpensive." But let's say it with seductive Italian flair—inexpensioso, perhaps?—and let's talk about just how much fantastically, classically prepared Italian cuisine you can get on a plate at Branica for less than twenty bucks. An eight-ounce steak filet, thick and supple, ladled with a mushroom Cognac sauce and melted mozzarella. Grilled shrimp or salmon bathed in lemon-butter sauce. Heaping helpings of all kinds of pasta, any one of them well under fifteen smackers: linguine with clam sauce, rigatoni spiced up with prosciutto and onion, tortelloni di pollo, pappardelle tossed with shrimp and scallops and asparagus and tomatoes. By the looks of Trattoria Branica, inhabiting some creamy-hued, dish digs across the street from the tony Plaza Frontenac, it's luxe. By the taste of it, it's luscious. But by the weight of your wallet, which will still have plenty of heft left to it after a meal here, it's cut-rate. And we mean that in the best possible way.
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