Best Italian Restaurant


Pizza Charlie died after 38 years on the job, and Salad Annie passed on after 25 years. Their culinary work, however, is carried on by a new generation of kitchen employees. Rossino's has three strong points to recommend it: great food, novel atmosphere and tradition. What began as a pizzeria -- the city's first -- in the basement of the Melrose Apartments has changed very little over the last 47 years. The checkered tablecloths, the bohemian assemblage of art and signage on the walls and ceilings, the pipes so low you have to duck before entering the dining area -- all beckon the discerning diner in search of a memorable meal. "Nothing changes," says owner/manager Nina Zimmerman. "We've had the same customers for years. Many couples say they had their first date here." Sequestered booths with flickering candlelight offer the requisite setting for romantic interludes. Hand-holding is permitted and longing gazes encouraged; marriage proposals are almost routine. The menu, too, remains unchanged: The pizza is still square. The lasagna is still the most-ordered item on the menu. The pasta-and-chicken livers entree still comes with a choice of red or white sauce. The Sicilian salad still tastes great with fresh sliced Italian bread. And, as ever, the big jar, mysteriously filled with Chinese fortune cookies, still sits by the entrance, causing small amusement among contented departing customers.
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