The sign outside Anteprima declares "Cibo, Vino, Amici," or "Food, Wine, Friends," three things you'll find in abundance here. While you're at it, though, you should also add "famiglia," or "family," to the list. When you spot Marty Fosse, the owner, manager and Spiaggia vet, happily filleting fish, it's a scene sweet enough to make you wish he'd adopt you.
In front of the restaurant, benches and flower pots frame the slightly arched windows, making it feel like you've stumbled upon an attractive countryside Italian home. If the distressed wooden shutters, wine racks and hanging windows that complete Anteprima's decor look familiar, it's because the same decorator outfitted M. Henry, the popular breakfast spot just up the street.
The food here is rustic, so instead of bread and butter expect grissini, long, pencil-thin sticks of dry crunchy bread. A vegetable tart of dandelion greens, pine nuts, raisins and parmesan makes for an effective palate cleanser between starters of olives dressed in garlic, orange oil and chili flakes ($3) and a truly excellent, large portion of grilled octopus served on a bed of potatoes, red onion and chiles ($8). If you enjoy rich butter sauce, opt for the decadent and near overwhelming ricotta and chard ravioli. Just don't expect huge portions; the size of a half order seems appropriate as an appetizer, and the full order of tagliatelle in meat sauce ($16) will let down a large appetite.
A friendly, knowledgeable and patient staff will happily recommend a bottle from the list of almost 60 red and white wines or a by-the-glass option, which starts at $8. Beer drinkers can order 750-milliliter bottles of specialty beers, such as the intense and spicy Belgian ale Demon Hunter for $25.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman