Reborn and ready for its close-up, Savino's Hideaway lives up to its romantic name. The sprawling restaurant, secluded within a residential area, is a visual knockout: lots of classy white wainscoting and dark polished wood, along with stylish little touches such as dish towels doubling as napkins. Service is gracious and -- quite a coup -- at prices you'd expect at a strip mall pizza-pasta place. The Sguera family -- owners Savino and Rita and their children, Leo and Joseph Sguera and Maria Carson -- collaborated on both the Italian-style recipes and the restaurant redesign.
The Margherita pizza makes a fine first impression, with its crisp, clean-tasting crust and meltingly good topping. Another evening, a meatball-topped pie shows off the restaurant's winning way with ground meat and spices. A starter of grilled calamari comes off as smoky and garlicky. Simple and refreshing: a baby arugula salad topped with ringlets of red onion, lemon and olive oil. A soup special of stracciatella, though, cries out for more seasoning.
The moist, juicy superiority of dark over white meat is illustrated by "chicken a la Leo," boneless thighs roasted with rosemary and plated with roasted potatoes. Chicken Parm, on the other hand, suffers from having spent too much time in the oven, the white meat dry and stringy. The kitchen redeems itself with flounder française, a generous serving of egg-battered whitefish in a lush lemon butter-wine sauce that balances tart and mellow. Served with spinach, the dish is pure comfort.
Spaghetti Calabrese, made with red, yellow and hot peppers, is piquant but not the least bit harsh. The pasta, however, is a tad overcooked, as it also is in the near-perfect shrimp fra diavolo, plump shellfish sauteed with garlic in a spicy marinara sauce. Linguine with white clam sauce features clams out of their shells in a sauce at once herbal and garlicky.
Desserts are house-made. Italian cheesecake, light and opulent, should be brought to room temperature before serving. Chocolate mousse, though, is ideally rich and intense -- deserving of a better topping than aerosol whipped cream. Warm, freshly fried zeppole, to be dipped in Nutella, brings an Italian street fair into the dining room. Appropriately, it weds homey with high style.