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Another Italian arrives in Marlton

 

 

VIBE: Allora by da Soli makes up for its lackluster setting with seasonal Italian food that pops with color and bold flavors. This is a real deal Italian restaurant, from the homemade pasta to the tiramisu.

 

STANDOUT DISHES: Roasted red peppers with burrata, clams casino, stuffed artichoke, Brussels sprouts, pescatore Diablo and tiramisu

 

ITALIANS SAY "allora" constantly. I noticed it on a recent trip to Rome the word peppers everyday speech, often underscored by the expressive gesticulating that is a hallmark of Italians everywhere.

 

I figured it meant something like "Pay attention," or maybe "This is important!"

 

However, allora basically means "so" or "therefore." It's not a big deal word at all. But when an Italian uses it, you would swear something epic is happening.

 

Which certainly is the case at Allora by da Soli, chef Mark Berenato's follow up restaurant christian louboutin replica to his hugely popular da Soli in Haddonfield. Located in the Greentree Square shopping center on Route 73, where Whole Foods is a neighbor, Allora opened in the space of the now shuttered La Posata.

 

You christian louboutin shoes wouldn't think South Jersey needs yet another Italian restaurant, but after dining at Allora, I can say this one is a worthy exception.

 

The place Christian Louboutin Shoes doesn't look like much from the outside and inside, the dining room feels downright sterile, with white walls and tablecloths, dark woodwork and generic art that looks as if it came from Marshall's.

 

Allora's most arresting feature is its large open kitchen, with a pasta making area and line of busy cooks filling orders. It was a Thursday night and by about 7:30, the place was packed.

 

Our waiter Mark was terrific, on point, friendly and well versed in the menu offerings and the evening's many specials. We loved the warm bruschetta mix he presented before taking our order. If only the dipping bread wasn't so blah come on, there are amazing bakeries all across Jersey, no reason for ho hum bread.

 

One bite of the clams casino ($8.50) and our gloom over gluten was forgotten. Eight (not six) tender little necks louboutin replica arrived topped with a zippy mix of bread crumbs, bits of bacon, chopped clams and green peppers, baked until crispy on top and replica red bottom still juicy inside.

 

The house made burrata and roasted peppers ($8.50) was another revelation, silky rich fresh mozzarella oozing cream was the perfect adornment to fresh greens and garnet colored marinated roasted peppers. We were meh about the special salad ($10), a toss of greens with hearts of palm and fried calamari. The calamari had an unfortunate less than fresh fried taste and the purported maple dressing was nowhere to be found.

 

The real star of the starters was the prosciutto Red Bottom Shoes wrapped, Roman style artichoke ($9), stuffed with house made chicken and broccoli rabe sausage, served oven roasted with a buttery lemon sauce flecked with herbs. It was the perfect example of how chef Berenato is upping the ante in South Jersey, serving regionally focused classics with an elegant, modern touch.

 

House made tortellini carbonara ($10) showed off the restaurant's pasta making prowess. Delicate pasta purses arrived stuffed with creamy ricotta and ground veal, topped with a pecorino Romano cheese sauce, bits of crisped pancetta and an egg on top a beautiful and savory take on this classic.

 

Another pasta dish that soared to lofty heights was the zesty pescatore Diablo ($23), a generous tangle of spaghetti crowded with pristine seafood mussels, calamari, clams, crabmeat and shrimp and fresh tomato marinara spiked with just enough red chili flakes.

 

The meaty pork con fico ($21) was a bit shy on the soppressata and buy louboutin replica fontina stuffing, ditto on the figs in the marsala wine sauce, a sweet note that blended perfectly with the tender chop flavor.

 

A large slab of perfectly pink ahi tuna got the Siciliano treatment ($24), grilled and topped with diced tomatoes, fennel, capers, basil and Kalamata olives, and served over risotto Milanese with fresh green beans and carrots.

 

Berenato's menu is well cheap christian louboutin priced (especially since everything comes with risotto and a vegetable) and creative, with chicken and veal done a number of ways, including carciofi ($17, $19.50), sauted with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and basil in wine; and the alluring Romano ($17.50, $19.50), with prosciutto, sage, grilled eggplant, and mozzarella in tomato sauce spiked with sherry.

 

Sides of fried Brussels sprouts, with a crust of pecorino ($5), and simply sauted broccoli rabe ($6) were just right. And when was the last time you saw alio olio with anchovy ($7) as a side option? Now, that's down home rustica.

 

Desserts were fine, especially a creamy tiramisu ($6.50) and a vanilla scented crme brle ($6.50), although a stale shell was undeserving of the creamy sweet ricotta filling of the cannoli ($5.50).

 

Therefore, so, or as they say in Italy, allora despite a few small gripes, this welcome newcomer shines, thanks to chef Berenato's verve and vision, making Allora by da Soli a winning addition to the Marlton dining scene.