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Made in Italy's Fresca pizza.

 

The pizza from Made in Italy ($13.95) is worth the drive down to Venice, and we're partial to the Fresca option--tomato sauce, mozzarella, arugula, cherry tomatoes and speck (smoked pork, similar to prosciutto). Crispy crust, creamy cheese, salty pork, perfectly acidic tomato sauce and a fresh, leafy bite from the arugula--it's pure pie perfection.

 

We celebrated the birth of 2016 in style, with a cornucopia of cured meats and other delights spread across a giant wooden paddle at Pomona. The restaurant's charcuterie spread ($30) included lamb sausage, fried sweetbreads, foie gras custard, Grove Ladder chicken wrapped in bacon, pork belly and a whole mess more. Incredible. What wasn't so incredible? The often-forgetful service. Eating our way around the charcuterie board, though, we couldn't have cared less.

 

The pollo Parmigiano ($22.95) at busy Chianti, an Italian-American restaurant on Clark Road in Sarasota, was prepared exactly how it should be. A high-quality, juicy chicken breast cutlet pounded thin (but not completely flat) was dredged in crumbs, pan fried, topped with cheese and popped into the oven to melt the Parmigiano. The portion is more than generous enough to share bites with your dinner companion--but just a few, you want most of this for yourself.

 

There's nothing more comforting on a cool day than a flavorful tomato soup--and newly opened The Rosemary has nailed it with their roasted tomato and red pepper version ($6 for a cup). Despite its creaminess, the dish contains no dairy, and it's well-seasoned, with the acidic balance you crave with any type of tomato soup. Ask for a side of Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top  and you have a perfect bowl.

 

For a sweet, creamy, cold and slightly unusual end to your meal, consider a tortoni from Brooklyn Biscuit Tortoni Co. Named after a Neapolitan man who owned a cafe in Paris famous for its ice creams, a tortoni is an almond-flavored semi-freddo that's made from custard, heavy cream and meringue and topped off with amaretti cookie crumbs and a maraschino cherry. It's delicious--and you can find it Mozzarella Fella, Solarzano's Pizza, Piccolo's Italian Market and more. (P.S. Look for more in our March issue!)

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