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Barolo has pasta to please all tastes and appetites

Chef Luca Mazzolani has his culinary roots planted firmly in his native Italy. When he took over Barolo, an informal restaurant in a small shopping center off Towne Center Drive, he created a menu that puts a contemporary twist on classic Italian dishes.

Barolo serves lunch during the week, and dinner every night. The lunch menu features a nice assortment of antipasti, salads, pastas and sandwiches.

The pastas are very special indeed, and you can get a fine assortment of these Italian standards for lunch starting at $8.75. The most popular pasta is the lasagna Bolognese with meat sauce and bechamel.

Diners adore the ravioli any time of day as well. These home-made beauties are stuffed with pear and parmesan and anointed with a sauce of mascarpone cheese, pear, walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes.

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Eggplant lovers have two excellent choices on the dinner menu, depending on your mood. The melanzane alla parmigiana ($8.25) is a marvelous baked eggplant, tomato and cheese mixture that makes a perfect hot appetizer. If you prefer your eggplant marinated and served with goat cheese, salad greens and tomatoes, try the amici vegetariani ($8). Both of these dishes are guaranteed to please.

There are several tempting entrees available every evening, not to mention an assortment of daily specials added to the regular menu. We love the pollo ripieno al tartufo nero e ricotta, a breast of chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese and black truffles ($15.25).

Another unusual dish that Mazzolani created for local diners is the gnocchi di ricotta allo speck, which are home-made ricotta dumplings with speck and smoked mozzarella.

Every Italian restaurant features veal on the menu, but the sauteed veal scaloppini with pesto, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes dished out at Barolo is one of the best. This veal scaloppini preparation is priced at $16.50.

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Mazzolani is serious about keeping prices down and introducing local diners to the traditions sometimes lost in this neck of the woods. The affable owner/chef often greets guests himself, and the wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The restaurant offers catering too.

Be sure to bring along the little ones. Barolo’s menu invites kids to order half portions of pasta with their choice of sauce for $5.95.

Barolo Ristorante Italiano is at 8935 Towne Center Drive. Call (858) 622-1202.