June 2006 Cheap EatsThis red-sauce trattoria has wit and style--and the feel of Little Italy. Much of the food tastes like it came from the kitchen of an Italian nona, and no wonder: The two thirtysomething brothers who run the place--one cooks, the other manages--copped recipes from their own.
Snug and cozy with dark wood tables and chairs, vintage family photos on the frescoed walls, and a faux fireplace that's really a TV screen, Olazzo is both romantic and family friendly. Young servers amp up good cheer, as do Monday's half-price wine night and Tuesday's $5 martinis.
But even without the boozy come-on, the place is a find. Crisp fried tendrils of calamari heaped in a giant martini glass will make you smile. The best big plates are the traditional ones: well-seasoned meatballs with al dente spaghetti; lasagna with a robust Bolognese sauce; chicken cardinale with tomato-cream sauce; crusty thin-pounded chicken Milanese. Less successful are dishes catering to modern health concerns, like salmon with mango relish and a flavorless vegetable pasta. A nice house salad comes with all entrées, but get the dressing on the side--the kitchen tends to overdo it.
For nostalgia's sake, splurge on a crisp-shelled cannoli for dessert, the essence of Little Italy in a few crunchy bites.