Opened in 1994 as part of Roberto Donna's restaurant empire, this appealing neighborhood Italian restaurant was bought by its manager, Mahe Bogdonovich, in 2000. Chef Marcial Umana has been at the helm since February. Although Arucola got off to a somewhat rocky start, it has matured into a dependable neighborhood favorite, with good food and professional service.
The menu changes daily. The antipasto selection on a recent evening included fresh anchovies marinated in olive oil, very good grilled sardines in a sweet-sour agro dolce, and nicely cooked grilled octopus on aruguola. Pizzas–cooked in a wood-burning oven–are very good, the crust thin, brown, and crisp and the tomato-Buffalo mozzarella-basil topping applied with a spare hand.
The selection of pastas, all nicely cooked and sauced, consisted of papardelle with veal ragu, ravioli filled with artichokes and roasted tomatoes and sautéed in butter and sage, and a complex fettuccine in yellow tomato sauce, topped with salted ricotta. A sampling of all three is $17.95.
Veal scallopine is one of those workhorses of the Italian-restaurant kitchen that is often carelessly cooked. Here it is tender, served in a delicate white-wine sauce atop a bed of soft polenta. A grilled veal chop, cooked medium rare as ordered, came with lovely rosemary roasted potatoes. Desserts from the cart could use some work, but the zabaglione that accompanies them is terrific.