This Salem restaurant has been serving Italian food since 1987. The owner, Annibale Todesca, is often onsite schmoozing with customers and offering menu suggestions as he is very proud of his food. I can't figure out why, but he looks younger each year. Must be the olive oil.On a recent visit we decided to stick with the pasta selections that we found reasonably priced. A few pastas are house-made, like the pappardelle but we opted for the dishes using the imported pastas that soak up the sauce equally well.My favorite was the Linguini alla Frutti di Mare ($16.95), a combination of lobster, shrimp and clams sautéed with fresh tomatoes and onions in a light marina sauce. The shrimp were very succulent and I enjoyed the light sauce made from fresh tomatoes. It was not pasty like a thick sauce made from tomato paste - here the juice soaks its goodness into the pasta. I learned there is always a huge pot of sauce simmering away in the kitchen. My first choice, the lobster Fra Diavolo, is always nice, but we were informed they were sold out of fresh lobsters.The wine list is lengthy, but I skipped the read in favor of a bottle of Chianti, always a safe choice.To start the meal we ordered a table-side Caesar, ($16.95 for two), one of the few restaurants where you can order this visual treat. Our server promptly rolled up her cart with a bag of tricks and adeptly mixed the garlic, anchovy, lemon and olive oil into a thick emulsion. I would have liked a little more anchovy, but I did forget to tell her that. There was plenty of lemon, which is sometimes used too lightly in Caesars.Warm, freshly baked bread was served with a nice fruity olive oil. It smelled good and was very moist inside, perfect for mopping up sauce or olive oil.For antipasti we ordered calamari ($7.95), which was served lightly fried and perfectly tender.A dinner companion ordered the spaghetti carbonara ($11.95) with pancetta, parmigiano and romano cheeses. It was a lighter, less-rich version, so probably a less artery-choking version as well.One can't let the dessert cart pass by so we tried the Colosseum's version of tiramisu, made by one of the servers we were told. Served in a parfait glass, it was a smooth concoction of mascapone and kahlua. The lemon cake, prepared locally but not in-house, was ripe with lemon flavors and rich with a creamy filling.
This article appears in the February 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine