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Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

The Olive Garden doesn't serve tripe. That's OK, but it also doesn't offer fresh pork or beef braciole, chicken scarparielo with homemade sausage and mushrooms in lemon sauce, pignoli-crusted snapper over spinach, and more than 40 types of pasta dishes -- and that's not OK, which is one reason why those seeking moderately priced, robust Southern Italian food are far better off at Zuccarelli's. Another reason is that the meatballs aren't made en masse but rather in the caring hands of the Zuccarelli family -- papa Ralph, mama Frances, and daughter Olimpia -- and Chef Buddy Kratz. They also make the sausages, mozzarella cheese, pastas, breads, and desserts and have been doing so for 23 years, much to the gratitude of a fiercely loyal clientele -- most of whom the staff here knows by name. This rustically attractive restaurant puts out some outrageously delicious pizzas too, and there's hardly an item on the absurdly extensive menu that costs more than $20.
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Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

Those of us who have taken to barking incessantly about the insulting lack of quality in everything these days -- the DVD player that skips whole movie scenes first time you plug it in, stylish steak knives that break off in your T-bone -- will cherish Salerno's for every drop of its home-made, carefully tended red sauce, its freshly made gnocchi, tortellini, and spinach fettuccini, its imported provolone and mozzarella. Sing arias of grazie to Tony Salerno for being a decent guy who couldn't live with himself if he charged more than $3.25 for a delicious bowl of Italian wedding soup. A hot sausage and pepper sub, supersized, can be had for $6.50 here, and you know when you get it home and peel off its greasy wrapper, it's going to taste better than you dreamed possible. A plate of rigatoni, served with a salad and dripping garlic rolls, will fill your belly without emptying your wallet. The only surprises here are good ones, like a shrimp, scallop, and bacon pizza (at $27.95, the most expensive pie on the list). And the only secrets have been passed down through generations of Italian cooks. Pass them on.
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Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

Take into account the décor, dotted with memorabilia and photographs. Consider the manner of service, warm and hospitable. Above all, note the menu, dotted with dishes like "Grandma Kay's farfalle," "pollo alla Alfred," and "Ginny's shrimp fra diavolo." Clearly, the quintessential Italian family is alive, well, and cooking in Pembroke...
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Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

OK, this place may be best known for its pizza, which blisters your mouth so appropriately. But a slice that would make any New Yorker grin isn't Poppy's only claim to fame. The pizza oven embraces an enormous steak calzone, for example, stuffed with sirloin, ricotta, mozzarella, onions, and peppers...
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Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

The spelling on the sign may not be so hot, but the pasta fagioli is, and at the end of the day, that's what matters: a good, hearty bowl of white bean soup for less than $3. Homemade mozzarella and roasted red peppers, along with fabulously supple gnocchi, also soothe...
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