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Trattoria Aroma is Italy in the Elmwood Village

They may want to make Hertel our Little Italy but wise diners will also find each other on Bryant and Ashland at Trattoria Aroma. Dave Cosentino and Keith Dulak have brought, hands down, the best Italian food and wine to the Elmwood Village. This is authentic Italian, and I’ll just cut to the chase – you won’t be disappointed.
The daily specials list is always interesting and typically includes a soup, antipasti, pasta, fish, and meat entree as well as a calzone. One pasta special should not be missed if it’s on the menu. The spaghetti with prosciutto, peas, cracked pepper, and roma tomato in a parmesan-egg sauce shows how skilled and authentic the cooking is at Trattoria Aroma. This dish can go downhill quickly if the sauce is made imperfectly, which is certainly not the case here. Instead of a tacky, lip sticking feel the egg based sauce is pulled off with deft skill. In fact all of the spaghetti arrangements offer a taste and texture that reminded me of when I lived in Philly and was eating Mark Vetri’s yet-to-be-discovered fare. This is Italy folks, it is special.
While the pizzas are fantastic and crisp, the entrees satisfying and deep, the pastas steal the show here. A companion’s papardelle Piemonte absolutely reeked of white truffle oil as did the spaghetti Albanese. The spaghetti Erice was so perfectly balanced anybody worried about strong capers or garlic are going to find true religion. Old school choices like the Bolognese are true to form and let the noodle reign supreme. I could go on and on. Great stuff- all of it.
Wines by the glass change quite frequently at Trattoria Aroma. This is such a great thing for frequent diners. Thus, please note that some of the wines that follow may not appear on the “by the glass” list when you visit. Instead, it is likely that you will be offered new and exciting choices.
The all-Italian selections span the weight spectrum for both reds and whites. Lighter reds included the Salice Salentino Ca’ntele for example, listed as a great “pizza wine” on the menu but was more than a respectable spaghetti red and had fine structure. The descriptions Cosentino offers are easy to understand, light hearted, and accurate. It was really educational sampling wines off of this list. One night I could try a Pinot Nero (Italian Noir) and another a Dolcetto d’Alba, neither of which were on the menu at the same time. Meatier choices on my visits included a Morellino di Scansano from Bruni that was rich yet so easy drinking that anybody shy of big red stuff could be persuaded. A Bastianich (Joe, of the Lidia-Joe-Molto Mario power trio) Tocai Friuliano was a stand out on the ever-changing white list. For big spenders there are great Gaja offerings.
Desserts don’t sway from the authentic theme. Just sweet enough, the Tiramisu and canoli were outstanding. Banana gelato creamy and natural, blood orange sorbetto crisp and refreshing. As hard as I tried I could find nothing bad to say about this place. I know I’ll be back again and again. Hope to see you there.
Trattoria Aroma (Cucina Rustica), 307 Bryant, 14222, 881.7592, call for hours
photo by Nicholas Barone

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