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BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP) Minneapolis 1999 -

Readers' Choice: Buca di Beppo

D'Amico Cucina: the greatest dream, the blackest nightmare. Dream of the crisp, rich, ethereal piadina topped with Gorgonzola, carpegna prosciutto, and warm rosemary honey. Fantasize about cloud-buoyant gnocchi and tongue-sizzling, perfect Meyer lemon souffléd pudding. But fear a wretched table behind a pillar if you're not recognized by the staff, and sweat over the condescending sneers of the efficient, unforgiving servers. Sadly, the much smaller restaurants that vie for second place (Ristorante Luci, Locanda di Giorgio, Giorgio's, and Maggiore) just can't compete in terms of attentive service (when it's good, it's incomparable), depth and breadth of wine list, variety of offerings, and expertise in desserts--so it remains D'Amico Cucina, best pricey Italian restaurant, and best proof that into every picnic a little rain must fall.

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