49° Good Evening
49° Good Evening
Tappo's wine-marinated short ribs. (April 28, 2012)

Tappo's wine-marinated short ribs. (April 28, 2012) Credit: Yana Paskova

Mastroianni and Loren, Gassman and Magnani join you for a little dolce vita at Tappo. They're eternally young, in black-and-white photos from the skinny black-tie-and-Vespa era.

Tappo brings you a suggestion of Rome, and features Italian and Italian-American dishes that bridge the decades. You'll be in a pleasant setting where the vino flows. Considering there's a barrel topped with corks and a vinelike wine rack in the middle of the dining room, you might as well enjoy a glass.

This is a prosecco-and-Barbera kind of restaurant, but you can go richer with Barolos and brunellos. Just depends on your mood and your euros. Make those lira. Tappo likes tradition.

So, nibble on bread dipped in olive oil or slathered with caponata. And then order carciofini alla Giudea, a satisfying if not exactly authentic version of the classic fried artichoke dish. Here, it's a mild saute, but commendable just for being on the menu. Also recommended: polenta with a light ragout of quail.

Pan-seared Nantucket scallops, however, arrive a bit overdone. Grilled, layered vegetables are slightly undercooked. You're better off with a salad of yellow and red beets with goat cheese, or with burrata, the creamy mozzarella-within-mozzarella, paired with asparagus and tomatoes.

Gnocchi cinque terre means pesto at Tappo. The sauce needs more seasoning. When they offer Parmesan cheese, take it. Linguine alla carbonara is surprisingly bland.

The pastas improve with a meaty, refined and generous lasagna alla Bolognese; and fettuccine tossed with crumbled, sweet sausage and broccoli rabe.

Tappo is fairly limited when it comes to seafood. Baked branzino leads a small school, accented with lemon and herbs, atop a modest risotto primavera. The other regulars are grilled salmon on caponata, and tilapia Livornese.

Boneless beef short ribs, marinated in Chianti, show up tender and tasty. Likewise, chicken with wild mushrooms, roasted peppers and a trace of balsamic vinegar; and chicken with sweet sausage and baby artichokes in a lemon-and-garlic sauce. For a restaurant that has a motto of "Where there are Romans, there is garlic," you won't see that much of it.

But on Sundays, the kitchen prepares a fixed-price supper starring a Neapolitan-style meat ragu with paccheri pasta, followed by pork ribs, meatballs, braciola and sausage in gravy. Mark the calendar.

And for dessert, ricotta cheesecake and tiramisu stand out.


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