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Best Italian

7865 E. Broadway Blvd.

READERS' PICK: Have a big night out at Gavi. Not fine dining, but simply the finest Italian food in town. The place hops, with a crowded, hustle-and-bustle atmosphere that makes you feel like you've really been somewhere. Gavi's superb Italian fare is always made to order from fresh ingredients, and the high-quality wine list comes with regional maps, so you can see where those grapes were grown. With café atmosphere and an international air hailing from the soccer memorabilia on the walls and ceiling, Gavi is the perfect place to eat Italian. Be forewarned--Gavi's does not take reservations, and the wait, though worthwhile, is often long.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Daniel Scordato's charming Vivace Restaurant (4811 E. Grant Road), located in the heart of the Crossroads Festival shopping center, is Italian dining at its finest. Everything Scordato composes, from grilled meats to pasta to ethereal desserts, is crafted with grace and style. Appetizers alone could abate a lunchtime appetite, but why stop there? The escargots--redolent with butter, sautéed garlic, artichoke hearts and gorgonzola cheese--are enough to cause a famished diner to swoon; and the bruschetta, tender-crisp slices of French bread topped with goat cheese, tomato, cucumber and fresh basil, is heavenly. We've oft accompanied these starters with a luscious salad of mixed greens, diced pear and blue cheese drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. The pasta dishes are extraordinary, as is the grill. (Safely ensconced at your table, you can watch Vivace chefs toy with the flames in the restaurant's open kitchen.) Daily fresh fish specials always pepper the menu, and there's no one in town who knows how to prepare treasures from the sea quite like Scordato. Gentle sauces and treatments highlight these succulent entrees rather than overwhelm them. Our favorites on the dessert tray include chocolate mousse topped with pistachio crème anglaise; and a lemon mousse napoleon served with fresh raspberries and a tart, mixed-berry coulis.

Case History

1997 Winner: Caruso's Restaurant
1996 Winner: Caruso's Restaurant
1995 Winner: Caruso's Restaurant

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