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Chianti 

If you don't have your own Italian mama to cook for you, head to Chianti.

I don't know what to say. I've been stuffed dumb. Less is more? Sure. Tell it to the judge. He's the guy over there stirring the cauldron.

The food at Chianti is good in a mama's kitchen sort of way. It's better than average, actually. The prices are reasonable. What the entrees lack in exotic ingredients and frou-frou preparation they make up for with robust flavor and sheer volume. The management makes it easy on you, pricing all the regular entrees by category, hence: All chicken dishes are $12.95, veal $13.95 and seafood $13.95. Traditional fare such as lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs and eggplant parmigiana are staggered at $7, $8 and $11.95. Nothing fancy, but everything is solid. We did not, on either of two visits, order with the intent of foundering ourselves. Yet here I sit, heavy and round. My lovely girlfriend hasn't spoken for 36 hours. She is sprawled on the couch. I hear her whimper occasionally.



You might ask, "Why didn't you just stop eating?" Well, that's a good idea, on paper. But at Chianti I had much the same feeling as I have when I eat at my friend Shane's Aunt Judy's house. She lives in Yonkers with Uncle Johnny. When Shane and I go to visit, it's on. Judy prepares five or six different main courses, plus a few things to nibble on before and after dinner. She literally cooks all day. You don't mess with Aunt Judy. My Lord, she puts bowls of ricotta on the table so we can slather it on top of the manicotti and then pour a ladle full of "gravy" over the top of that. It's devilish. It would be an insult not to eat until I'm blue in the face. And the food is so good that it's awfully easy to do so. Same with Chianti.



Don't expect something subtle. My chicken cacciatore wasn't trying to fool anybody. Small chunks of chicken were sauteed (though it seemed more like a stew) in white wine with onions, mushrooms and plum tomatoes until the whole melded together on a subatomic level. The result was a singular, rich and tangy flavor in which I couldn't stop drowning my palate. I think Aunt Judy would have approved.



The veal principessa (with shrimp, topped with spinach and mozzarella and drizzled with a white wine and herb sauce) was lighter, sort of, but still had that certain something that made me want to lick my plate clean. Aunt Judy would say it was love. Other highlights included the sauteed oyster appetizer ($6.95), the fried zucchini with marinara ($3.95), and a succulent salmon filet encrusted with pine nuts and accented with a red pepper sauce ($13.95). Dinner entrees are accompanied by spaghetti or vegetable. The sauteed broccoli and garlic is a safe bet. You'll need the roughage.



Like I said, you won't be wowed by the food at Chianti, neither will you be confused by it. You will be satisfied. If you don't have an Italian aunt and you can't borrow one from a friend, Chianti is the next best thing.



SChianti Restaurant ($$)



1304 Gaskins Road



Gayton Crossing Shopping Center



Monday - Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.



740-5050





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