Crab Louie's Seafood Tavern; Angela's Ristorante 

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Crab Louie's Seafood Tavern

The fresh fish at Crab Louie's — Atlantic salmon, sole, sweet-lipped grouper, ahi tuna and other delights — are pulled from George's Bank off the Massachusetts coast and flown here twice a week. You'll find equally fresh shellfish - clams, oysters, shrimp - and lobster and crab, too.

The range of seafood preparations covers the waterfront from traditional baked, broiled and pan-seared items ($13-$17) and seafood pastas ($13-$16), to more decorated, dressed-up items like seafood au gratin ($7), hazelnut-crusted grouper ($16), and several combination platters ($18-$22). The raw bar is highly limited but stunningly fresh. For landlubbers, turf items are buried in the menu's tail section.

We enjoyed their spin on clam chowder ($5) with the addition of green pepper and smoked bacon, a very hearty dish for winter, as well as the she-crab soup ($6), robustly flavored with sherry. We opted out of the simple fish preparations, though, and reeled in the filet of sole stuffed with crab imperial ($19) — light, tender and not dried-out — and bouillabaisse ($22), a boil of salmon, ahi tuna, shrimp, clams and king crab in a tomato-saffron broth.

What keeps people coming back to Crab Louie's, though — and its following is quite large — has as much to do with place as with food. The service is friendly and welcoming, and the setting — a 250-year-old "Midlothian" estate — is plain-spoken but elegant. — Patrick Getlein

Sycamore Square Shopping Center
Lunch: Sunday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.;
Sunday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.

Angela's Ristorante

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.

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