Northborough – Guiseppe's Grille on Solomon Pond, just south of the shopping mall, is a wonderful antidote for wintertime cabin fever.
My family was suffering from that malady during the week after the Christmas snowstorm, with a daughter one of the "thousands of stranded travelers" waiting days for a seat after two flight cancellations, and we were seriously tired of Christmas leftovers.
We headed to Guiseppe's and found we were not alone. The restaurant was bustling on that weeknight, and owner Amy Kieler said business had been strong over the holiday season, a welcome introduction to the new year.
Guiseppe's describes itself as "a taste of the North End" in Northborough, and the dinner menu offers an almost overwhelming array of Italian specialties.
For starters, there are calamari, bruschetta, mussels in a garlic or red sauce, and a half-dozen other favorites, $7 to $10, many large enough to share, or you could choose chicken tortellini soup or the day's special, clam chowder on our visit.
Our server, Margaret Arsenault, suggested that the salads are large enough for all three of us to have a portion, and they are tempting. In addition to house and Caesar salads, there are versions with spinach, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese and Portobello mushrooms, or roasted peppers and assorted sausages, or roasted walnuts, gorgonzola and apples, $8 to $11. But we noticed the large portions in the entrees going by our table and decided to skip the starters.
We did enjoy the basket of warm bread and dish of roasted garlic cloves and oil for dipping while we studied the menu.
I must have looked like I had a hard time deciding, because Margaret stopped by and recommended the veal tortellachi with such enthusiasm that I decided to give it a try. My daughter went with chicken picatta, and my husband opted for baked penne.
Kudos to Margaret for her recommendation. The veal tortellachi ($18) was wonderful. The dish features slices of lightly-sautÃ©ed and very tender veal in a rich and delicious Madeira wine sauce, tossed with strips of roasted red peppers, wedges of artichokes and tortellachi – a large, plump version of tortellini – stuffed with a ground beef and veal mixture. I enjoyed every bite.
The chicken picatta ($16) starred sautÃ©ed chicken breasts and artichoke hearts in a white wine lemon sauce studded with capers, all served over capellini, a thin spaghetti. It was also very tasty. Guiseppe's offers a choice of veal or chicken for this and a number of other traditional preparations such as marsala, saltimbucca and cacciatore.
The baked penne ($14) is a great comfort food dish on a cold night. Italian sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms are tossed with the penne pasta and marinara sauce and topped with melted mozzarella cheese.
The restaurant also has a good selection of steaks and seafood entrees, or you can choose from a dozen specialty pizzas, or create your own with favorite toppings. Calzones are also a popular choice. And for dessert, Guiseppe's turns that pizza and calzone dough into the carnival favorite fried dough, with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or strawberries for $4.
Your server will bring a tray of the evening's desserts to the table – cheesecakes, pie, layer cake and more. If you have room for dessert after Guiseppe's delicious entrees, I salute you. As Margaret pointed out, you can always take dessert home for later.
Guiseppe's is also open for lunch and last year added a breakfast option, the Tazza D'Oro Espresso Bar and Pastry Shop, at the same location, 35 Solomon Pond Rd. For more information, call 508- 393-4405 or visit the website, www.guiseppesgrille.net.
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