BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP) Minneapolis 1998 -
You'd think D'Amico Cucina would have a lock on this category, but the recent chef-juggling there has opened the door for some of the other local Italian restaurants that have labored unapplauded in the shadow of the Big D. Enter the lovely Locanda di Giorgio. Here the menu changes every six weeks, reflecting a different city or region of Italy. When the focus was Romagna, the piedina was exquisite, the flat griddle bread delicately adorned with roasted potatoes, fresh rosemary, caramelized onions, and bubbly Fontina. When it was Venice this past winter, you should have seen the giant calamari stuffed with peppers, Swiss chard, golden raisins, and Pecorino cheese. The wine list also follows the geographic focus, but the decor remains intimate and jewel-toned. Until you've got enough lire saved for that Alitalia flight, Locanda di Giorgio is your hometown grand tour.