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Spatola

Tucked in the former Julia Blackbird’s space on a busy stretch in West Highland, Spatola strikes a balance between the old guard and the new. Instead of the old guard’s well-worn booths, you find a fireplace, paintings of the Italian coast, and a flower-bedecked patio. Instead of the new guard’s trendy fennel pollen and squid-ink pasta, you find a menu that, while written largely in Italian, is full of recognizable fare, from mushroom risotto to chicken marsala. Best of all, you'll often find Francesco Spatola himself, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes smiling as the hostess leads you to your seat. Dishes that stand out include arancini, fried balls of risotto that are far lighter than they sound, pappardelle alla Bolognese, and pasta al forno with creamy pockets of ricotta, mozzarella and béchamel tucked beneath a mound of penne. Cannoli, with chocolate chips studded on the ends and a crackly shell, make a good finish to any meal.

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