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BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT--CHEAP Minneapolis 2001 - Pane Vino Dolce

Readers' Choice: Buca di Beppo

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, nyah nyah nyah, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, nyah nyah nyah--all of southern Europe has us in its thrall. We're all supposed to come up with a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, some good Parmesan, a handful of escarole, a good summer tomato, toss it all together, whoopee! Well, guess what? Things ain't so easy. Any wine you get out of a "jug" will make you spit, bread with a real crust to it requires some inside dope and a special trip, ditto for the cheese and the tomato, and about that wine--you'd better remember to get to the liquor store by 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, and just forget about Sundays. Sound like half a day's work to you? It is! Which is why people are stacked up six deep all summer outside Pane Vino Dolce. While not, strictly speaking, a cheap restaurant, PVD can be cheap if you play your cards right, sticking to the inexpensive (from $4) glasses of well-chosen Italian wines, the good salads (from $5.50), splendidly simple pastas ($7 and up), and tasty, char-touched pizzas ($7 or more). More important, that spirit of "loaf of bread, jug of wine" is perfectly expressed here: All the ingredients are of the highest quality, all the compositions of a stirring simplicity, and if you have to sit outside in the sunshine with a nice glass of primitivo for an hour and wait for your table--so much the better, because it's that slowing down and appreciating your company and the sky above that that phrase is about, anyway.

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