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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Because Papal Pilgrims Get Hungry Too

Want to sample how food-obsessed Italians do casual dining? Find yourself an outlet of Anema e Cozze when you're next in Milan, Rome or Naples. In Rome, the chain is an easy walk from the Vatican, just over the Ponte Castel Sant'Angelo on Via della Scrofa. The name, a sly riff on the classic Neapolitan tune Anema E Core, is part of the fun of the place, which is all shiny mosaic tile, bright ocean colors and painted furniture. The chain positions its food as "sea and pizza," which means it focuses on the twin foundations of Neopolitan cuisine: seafood and the city's iconic, plate-sized pies that have been imitated and bastardized around the world. There's also a daily "trattoria menu" that offers an appetizer, entree, vegetable and beverage for just 10.50 euros. The service is fast, friendly and efficient. The food isn't quite up to the standards of the places you love the best in Italy, of course, but Anema e Cozze's pizzas, pastas, seafood and desserts are leagues beyond anything you'll eat in an Applebee's, Chili's, Outback Steak House or any other American casual-dining chain. By the way, Anema E Core translates as "with all my heart and soul." Anema e Cozze roughly translates to "soul and mussels." --Joe Brancatelli

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