Best Italian

Caruso's

READERS' PICK: When you think of a great Italian tenor, Enrique Caruso immediately comes to mind. Similarly, when you think of a great Italian restaurant, you think of Caruso's. It's not only a restaurant; it's practically a Tucson institution. It features all the classics--spaghetti, ravioli, linguini, pizza. It also has a number of shrimp and clam dishes, several types of sauces, a number of different meal combinations and a solid selection of wines to complement the food. Whether you're dining inside or outside in the beautiful courtyard, Caruso's offers great food in a festive, intimate and lively atmosphere.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Gavi, 6960 E. Sunrise Drive; 7865 E. Broadway Blvd.; 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd. We give a hearty "That's Amore" to all three locations. Here you'll find great lunches and dinners, from manicotti to Bolognese or saltimbocca dishes. Starting your meal with an antipasto sampler and hot, freshly baked bread keeps the scene rocking. The soccer motif is totally in harmony with this year's World Cup madness.

B-SIDE: Remember Louis Prima's old hit "Angelina/Zooma Zooma"? "I eat antipasto twice just because she is so nice, Angelina. Angelina, the waitress at the pizzeria. I keep zupa and minestrone just to be with her alone, Angelina."

There isn't an Angelina in the Katerelos family, which serves beautiful Italian food at Dolce Vita, 7895 E. Broadway, in huge portions with even bigger hearts. If there were, Prima's hit would be flipped. You'd be around Angelina, the girl who serves spumoni, because of the food. Harry and Irene Katerelos started Dolce Vita on the old Miracle Mile nearly 30 years ago, worked their magic on the northwest side and now are treating customers like family at this comfortable, unpretentious eastside spot at Broadway and Pantano. They serve a wide variety of pastas, veal, chicken and fish. They keep it simple. And simply delicious. Rigatoni with meat sauce or meatball is the best anywhere. If you are going to Dolce Vita, don't eat that day. You will be overwhelmed, even embarrassed by the portions. Deserts, from tiramisu to a variety of chocolate treats, are also big and great. And Dolce Vita has some of the best pizza and easily the finest Greek pizza ever made.

B-SIDE: John Burke was exceptional at the delightful Boccata and then Kingfisher. Now he's just down la strada at FioRito's, 2702 E. Grant Road, showing why he is Tucson's best front-of-the-house man. Drop in for ravioli or Marvelous Marv Kirchler's favorite calamari.

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