Angela's Ristorante at Ridge and Forest in the West End is almost a quintessential "neighborhood" eatery. One of the Palazzottos, the proprietors, is almost always there. They've been there for more than 15 years, so it's not surprising that they have lots of regulars.
But the thing that brings most people back to a restaurant is the food. I get the impression that Chef Michael would prefer to use his menu as a springboard of inspiration rather than for rote preparations. The menu is extensive, to be sure, with a couple of dozen seafood and veal dishes, in addition to other stuff, including pastas and pizza. Then there's an additional printed menu of specials, and the server always has a list of some treasures waiting in the fridge to be custom-cooked to your request. Palazzotto, like most Italian cooks, is conservative and traditional. His dishes are often robust, the flavors heady and the portions never small.
Angela's may not be in your neighborhood, but my guess is you'll soon feel at home. J. Davis Morton
425 Ridge Road at Forest Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday from 5 p.m. 10 p.m. 288-7483
If you like playing with your dinner and stuffing your face for under $15, try the Graywolf Grill. Open now for about three years (the last year under new ownership), the Mongolian-style grill encourages you to create your own culinary faux pas until you get it right.
Located in the Willow Lawn shopping center next to the Barksdale Theatre, the spacious Mongolian grill does not intend to transport its diners to the land of the Mongols in cuisine or atmosphere. Rather, it resurrects a Mongolian barbecue tradition of allowing diners to create their own dishes from a variety of ingredients. Bowl in hand, diners begin at one end of the ingredients bar to choose their meat or fish, vegetables, flavored oil, herbs and sauce. The last stage is to pass off your culinary catastrophe to a cook overseeing a large circular, cast-iron grill. Here, the ends of two long wooden sticks are used to tear and shred your choice ingredients into a small melee. The slightly mangled final product is often better than it looks, though, especially when the large bowl of rice and steamed flour tortillas waiting at the table are brought into the mix.
The unlimited dinner buffet ($13.95) includes a modest salad and soup bar. If you have not eaten yourself into a coma, the changing desert menu offers an array of pre-made desserts - such as key lime pie, chocolate torte, strawberry cheesecake, and a Nutty Buddy cake ($3.95) worth breaking a belt buckle for. Kevin Finucane
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