Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant (2006)

Papa Pistola's

For decades, you could count on the checkered tablecloth and the bottle of Chianti, the proprietor who knew the latest dish on everybody who walked in the door, the bread soaking in garlic butter, and the 12 kinds of spaghetti all cooked in the same heavy red sauce. Then, overnight, they were gone. Our cozy neighborhood Italian restaurants morphed into places playing trance music and serving vertical appetizers. Today, your chocolate martinis are brought by tattooed hunks, but the tattoos no longer say "Rose" or "Mama"; they're Sanskrit hieroglyphs that translate to "Ohm." Papa Pistola's is a nostalgic glimpse back to that bygone era when a bottle of wine with dinner set you back 15 bucks instead of 50. From the Dean Martin, Al Martino, and Mantovani record sleeves that decorate the walls to the fried mozzarella, pasta fagiole, and homemade gnocchi to the sincerity of the servers and the very reasonable prices (about $14.95 to $17.95 for the entrées), Papa's not cutting any edges. But he's not cutting corners either.


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