A popular place among casual Lakeview diners, Anna Maria Pasteria's consistently good food satisfies those with a need for basty (basic & tasty) Italian in somewhat elegant surroundings. Owners and sisters Anna Picciolini and Maria Spinelli have achieved the classic Italian restaurant with the customary menu; the look and tastes are exactly what Americans hope for in an Italian restaurant. The wall's faded pastels suggest a charming villa somewhere on an Italian hillside, preferably overlooking the Mediterranean. The crowd is broad and unclassifiable: From the young and dating to the old and still married, all seem to agree on Anna Maria's worthiness.
With about two dozen pasta dishes to choose from, there's no excuse for anyone in the party to complain. And even if they do, there are a handful of chicken and veal dishes to quiet them. The prices for the pastas are on the reasonable side ($10-$14.50), and the portions are plentiful. The large main room stays filled nightly and a crampy, spillover room is squirreled away around the corner. In the larger room, the friendly, people-enjoying-themselves noise is punctuated occasionally by the pleasant sound of a popping cork from the small bar. This sound, especially when heard repeatedly, acts as a soundtrack to some good times.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jeremy Freeden