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The sauce and shells at Shells and Sauce, the cozy Italian spot in Congress Park, may not bowl me over -- but the restaurant's very cool new rooftop patio, which was months in the making, is certainly more than enough to lure me up the steps and onto one of the huge, wrought-iron stools, padded with ass-comfortable cushions, that flank the bar. That bar is also littered with a long stretch of wine bottles, including a lovely French Chapoutier Bellaruche rose that I swilled last night while catching up with a good friend.
Matted with recycled rubber tires and outfitted with lots of lounge-y patio furniture and several tables shaded by big, red-and-white umbrellas, this is an ideal patio for long, leisurely story-swapping sessions, especially when you can order from the bar menu, which features far-from-sky-high prices on ravioli fritti ($4.95), pizzeta with pesto, tomatoes, feta and Parmesan ($4.95), and Italian sliders bumped with roasted mushrooms and mozzarella ($6.95).
Shells and Sauce
2600 East 12th Avenue
Open: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, closed Monday