Though the kitchen has now turned out fresh pastas for over a year, the sign declaring that Family Meal turned into Aggio only went up late this summer. While it was sad to see the fried chicken and all-day breakfast go, Bryan Voltaggio’s Italian concept, run by chef Jeremy Adams, is a delight. It deftly infuses modern American trends into Italian dishes: Instead of whisked eggs incorporated into a sauce for carbonara, the yolks arrive like creamy Hershey’s kisses nestled atop strands of fettuccine, with Parmesan foam resting on the noodles like the crest of a wave. The sauce reads more brothy than creamy with quarter-sized, nubby slices of bacon lardons grounding the dish with a porky base.
A lot of the dishes bring some element of whimsy or surprise. Even the ubiquitous Brussels sprouts, predictably fried on so many occasions, turn up soft and supple, used like a salad green and tossed with cucumbers, radicchio and ricotta salata for a bright and unexpected starter. Lasagna is not unusual in form; it’s just that there are seemingly endless layers of silky pasta underneath an almost-blackened crust. Cioppino is perhaps the wildest interpretation of this San Francisco Italian-American seafood stew. Instead of chunks of fish bobbing in a tomatoey broth, the branzino is splayed out and curled up in the shape of a canoe with shrimp, mussels and fennel strips filling the middle. Dessert follows along, with the outer shell of a cannoli broken up, fried and puffy and used as chips for a sweet and citrus-scented ricotta dip topped with a nest of tempered chocolate.
Italian | $$
20462 Exchange St., Arlington