Northwest Neighborhood Treasures, Near and Far

Five new reviews of family-friendly ethnic cafes and east coast-style pizza parlors

Reale's Pizza and Cafe

13450 Hwy. 183 N.

335-5115

Monday-Thursday, 11am-9:30pm; Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, noon-10pm

Reale's Pizza and Cafe has built up a loyal following with more than 20 years in the business. Diners love the family atmosphere created by manager Gino and his brothers, who serve humor, love, and most importantly -- good pizza. Praise of their authentic East Coast-style pizza is ubiquitous, and Reale's is one of only two or three places in town certified as the real deal. But don't skip over the rest of the menu -- their ability to create high-quality food on a consistent basis isn't limited to pizza.

Italian cuisine should be simple and easy to recognize. The staples are all about the sauce, which is contingent on fresh ingredients and correct preparation. You know how it should taste, and it's either good or off the mark. Reale's sticks to classic pastas, seafood, chicken, and veal for entrées, and their sauces, simple and well made, please the masses. The lasagna ($9.75) can please any palate, with its layers of pasta, cheeses, and marinara baked as ordered in individual dishes. For those who prefer a cream sauce, the Chicken Genovese ($11.25) has a light, basil-pesto sauce, served over sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms, and fettucine. Of course, the pizza is a sure thing, with your choice of fresh meats and vegetables.

For lunch, a friend and I shared the antipasti ($8.50), a plate of fresh salami, prosciutto, cappicola ham, and provolone served with Greek olives and peppers. It has the perfect amount of Italian dressing to bring out the flavors in the meats and cheese. The Caesar salad was a little heavy on the garlic but scored points for being served on a cold plate -- a detail often overlooked. We ate light in order to save room for the tiramisu, which melted in our mouths.

The dining room buzzes with lunch hour regulars during the week and a friendly, talkative waitstaff is never in short supply, always happy to bring more hot breadsticks, made from the restaurant's own pizza dough. Don't be fooled by the strip-mall location. At night the white tablecloths and ivy Roman arches provide elegant dining without the formality.

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