Harford Magazine - Page 16 - Hearty Italian

Harford Magazine
- Page 16
Hearty Italian
Amid the gently rolling countryside near the western edge of Harford County, a creamcolored, reasonably Tuscan-evoking building makes an unexpected appearance, located across the street from a much more ordinarylooking drugstore. It’s home to Acappella Italian Restaurant, an unassuming, come-as-you-are kind of place that makes you feel welcome and serves up some very tasty food.

The emphasis here is on Italian comfort food, not haute cuisine, and the goal seems to be getting it to your table quickly.

Within seconds of settling into one of the extra-tall-sided booths in the subtly lit dining room, a basket of still-steaming rolls arrived at the table — not trendy, wheat-y, nutty rolls, but the old-fashioned, white-flour type that we all grew up with and can still enjoy when snooty folks aren’t looking. They went quite well with the lightly spiced olive oil that accompanied the bread.

We took much longer figuring out what appetizers we wanted than the kitchen took to prepare them.

In short order, we were happily digging into a dish called shrimp Pompeii — sauteed crustaceans with a crunchy exterior that revealed a tender inside, while the flavor from a coating of red pepper and garlic aiolo gave each bite a neat little tingle. Also finding favor were deftly fried slices of eggplant and zucchini, dubbed here “Acappella chips.”

(The persnickety part of me wishes that the restaurant’s name followed proper Italian. There should be a space between the “a” and “cappella” — it’s the two-word term for unaccompanied singing. But I guess restaurateurs are entitled to poetic license.)

Having spotted the pizza nook next to the kitchen, where a gentleman in front of the brick oven tossed fresh dough in the traditional manner, we just had to add a pizza to our first course.

The Margherita came closer to a plain cheese pizza, offering a fine tomato sauce, more of a hint than a firm presence of mozzarella, and a few basil leaves strewn on top. Still, it proved highly respectable, thanks to the vibrant flavor and the