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Bites Nearby: Sunday Dinner is Every Night at Alfoccino's

Italian restaurant has long been a place to find traditional comfort food.

Overview: Everyday Italian in a homey setting. There is care in the food; you can taste the love in it. A great weekday dinner spot when the craving for gravy hits.

Decor: Fake foliage, disposable paper tablecloths, dark lighting–it’s like stepping into a time vortex into a 1960's basement that could use an HGTV makeover. But like that basement, Alfoccino can be the scene of many great memories.

The Drinks: As soon as we were seated, we were asked if we wanted to start off with a cocktail. Yes, please – that’s how we like to start off the night! There is a full bar but a small wine list, with only a handful of Italian offerings. The budget conscious can enjoy a decent glass of wine; we liked the house offering montepulciano, which at $5.50 is a pretty good deal.

Appetizers: Pretty standard fare from mozzarella sticks to calamari. We tried the spinach artichoke shrimp dip, which was one of the featured specials, and toasted ravioli, which is on the regular menu. The dip was creamy and rich with just the right amount of salt but the shrimp portions were, um, shrimpy. The filling for the ravioli was bursting with great flavor but the ravioli itself was a tad soggy by the time it reached the table; it could’ve been cooked a bit longer for a crispy bite.

Entrees:  Traditional, authentic Italian favorites rule here; you will not find haute cuisine on the menu. There are also American dishes such as ribs and burgers. The spaghetti with meat sauce is a tad acidic and needed just a little bit of sweetness for balance. Instead try the palomino (tomato and cream) sauce, which is well-executed, delicate and creamy. For $4.50 you can beef up any pasta dish and add mushrooms, cheese, meatballs and Italian sausage. For the tortellini dish, for example, adding all that extra meat is unnecessary since it’s so overpowering.

The meatballs had a spongy texture and tasted quite bland. The Italian sausage was a bit overcooked. While the menu reads like a manual for comfort food Italian, Alfoccino gets really creative with the pizzas. Available in round or square, diners can choose the original seafood (shrimp, crab, tomato and spinach); Cajun BBQ chicken or the extravagant Boss’s Special (beef tenderloin sautéed in garlic seasoning with peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and black olives). Pizzas are pre-baked then topped with the ingredients during a final baking.

Sides: Beware of the homemade garlic bread … it is a true test of willpower not to eat more than one piece! Buttery and garlicky, this is wheat perfection. At the bottom of the bottomless salad is a pool of dressing; these greens came totally overdressed for the party. Luckily the dressing is the quintessential Italian vinaigrette, striking a perfect balance between the oil and vinegar.

Desserts: After all that food, make sure to leave just a little bit of room for dessert, which is proudly presented on a dazzling platter at the end of the meal. The tiramisu is to die for. We’re not kidding-- you can die happy after eating a bite of this fluffy, light as air sweet treat packed with espresso flavor goodness. The cannoli, beautifully presented with a drizzle of chocolate and puffs of filling arranged around the pastry, was the delicious result of a perfect pairing of crunchy pastry shell and creamy almond-flavored filling.

Service: Slow; at one point we were the only ones in the restaurant but sat around waiting for the bill. Our waitress, however, was fun and chatty. Alfoccino is perfect for when you want to sit down and enjoy your food.

Signature Dish: Boss’s Special pizza, as well as the traditional pastas and Italian entrees.

Address: 39205 Grand River, Farmington Hills

Cost: $$

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