The breadbasket at Riella's Homestyle holds house-made crescent rolls. They're fragrant and chewy, served warm from the pizza oven, paired with a bright marinara dipping sauce. Early on, the message comes across: Chef Jimmy Giaccone's kitchen cares.
So, too, do the friendly and efficient servers, who explain that dishes come in both individual and family-style portions. What they may not tell you is that most individual portions easily feed two; order accordingly.
Like so many local Italian restaurants, this one has a pizzeria on one side. And while there's no pizza on the menu offered in the tastefully appointed dining room, you can still request a 12-inch pie as a shared starter. An unconventional choice is the baked clam oreganata pizza topped with a mix of chopped clams and bread crumbs. Super-lemony, surprisingly appealing.
Better yet, at a subsequent dinner, are baked clams, the briny mollusks capped with house-made bread crumbs and spices. Yet the showstopper turns out to be the warm Gianfranco salad, a colorful study in contrasts wherein cool romaine is topped with fresh mozzarella and vegetables in a spiced warm balsamic dressing with white wine and butter.
Riella's is big on simple Italian-American comforts. At lunch, eggplant Parmigiana -- a layering of fried eggplant capped with a lush mozzarella-marinara confluence -- tastes just-made. Veal Marsala is generous with both meat and mushrooms -- a trifle, but not overly, sweet. Evoking Sicily are veal and eggplant, tender cutlets topped with the versatile vegetable and a mix of red sauce and onions.
But linguine with white clam sauce is heavy on the lemon, dotted with roasted garlic cloves that make for awkward eating.
On the other hand, the kitchen takes seriously a request to rev up the spicing on an order for shrimp fra diavolo. The fiery shellfish turn up perfectly cooked, served over al dente linguine. Fork-tender chicken Francese features large cutlets blanketed in a just-citrusy-enough sauce.
But on a busy night, the restaurant is out of its signature Italian cheesecake. And tiramisu, while pretty enough, tastes flat. Then, there's cannoli cream served with pieces of sugar-dusted fried dough that break when dipped. Zeppole? Only on weekends.
No matter. Sip an espresso, nibble some biscotti and be glad this newcomer has hit the local restaurant scene.