Noe Valley Voice April 2001

Customers Yearn for a Taste of Italy

By Doug "Cornfed" Kon

When Little Italy closed last November, hungry fans of Italian cuisine were despondent. Now that a new restaurant, Small Italy, has opened in the same storefront, they're happy--but still hungry. Although Small Italy spotlights the same hearty fare as its predecessor, the portions are now much tinier, in keeping with our more health- and weight-conscious times. The familiar red and white checked tablecloths and the chianti bottle candles are gone, replaced by fragile miniature tables and matchstick chairs designed to encourage even the slimmest diners to worry about how much they're eating.

For starters, the Zuppa di Miniminestroni, served in a porcelain thimble, features a carrot sliver in a drop of hearty broth. The Petit Fungo Piccolito, a button mushroom with a dab of marinara sauce and a fleck of parmesan cheese, could make an entire meal for diners with smaller appetites. Antipasto, bits and odd ends of little foods to begin with, is served with or without a magnifying glass, at the customer's request.

Entrées range from Veal Parmidget-ana and Osso Bitsy to the chef's signature Eeny Linguini, which is a flat noodle in almost a dollop of nonfat Alfredo sauce. A half-priced dinner special, served before 5 p.m., is a half portion.

A children's menu is also available.