Good things happened when the Twin Cities most-lauded chef, Tim McKee, went back to his first culinary love. Though McKee made his name cooking French/Mediterranean fare at La Belle Vie, he got his start at D'Amico Cucina. (In fact, he says that Italian is his favorite cuisine.) Consulting for Parasole's Il Gatto, McKee installed a new head chef, Jim Christiansen, and developed a new menu that incorporates better ingredients along with a greater sense of adventure and authenticity. Seafood dishes are especially strong, particularly the cured swordfish with tonatto, the spicy bobolotti stew, and the skate wing with puttanesca sauce. Simple wood-fired pizzas are prepared as precisely as the more complicated dishes, such as a riff on the traditional zampone, or sausage-stuffed pig foot, which was turned on its hoof to become pork three ways with celery root polenta. And never has an Italian dessert tasted better than the lovely chestnut cake with white chocolate semifreddo and orange curd. If you're short on cash, deals abound during Il Gatto's happy hours—they happen twice on some nights. And if you want to treat yourself, check out McKee and Christiansen's regular three-course dinner series.