Caiolas is the kind of cozy neighborhood restaurant where your cheeks turn rosy from the wine, the warm draft from the kitchen and animated conversation.  Serving upscale comfort food inspired by owner Lisa Vaccaro’s rustic Italian roots, the meals don’t come out quickly, but they come out precise. It was the perfect place to settle in and catch up with my best friend from high school and her husband visiting from Chicago.

We’d allotted two hours for a leisurely meal and we needed it. The point of a night at Caiolas is to dine – and dine we did.

An initial round of crab cakes was a revelation — creamy herbed meat ensconced in a perfectly crunchy little shell of breading. No sogginess here (few things bug me more than a soggy crab cake)! The arugula salad that followed was peppery and loaded with julienned pears. Tossed with a light vinaigrette, it retained its fresh bite to the end.

Adam loved his burger, which came nestled in thick toasted bread, instead of a bun, accompanied by crispy round balls that looked like little breaded eggs. Turns out they were tater tots.

My slow-braised pork with fennel and polenta truly embodied the comfort food definition, but it was the side of greens that had me muttering “wow” over and over. Hiding in the mustard fronds were chunks of squash and mini brussel sprouts bursting with earthy flavor. Yum.

Suprisingly, no one ordered fish, which is a shame as chef/owner Chef Abby Harmon became known for her topnotch seafood at Street and Company.

Guess we just need to go back with our next visitors.

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