Growing up in New Jersey, the "red-sauce joint" was ubiquitous. It was where we went for lunch on a work day, dinner with a new sweetheart on a Friday night or a time to finally unwind with the family after a wedding or funeral. Spaghetti, pizza, tables pushed together to fit everyone, garlic bread with cheese and laughter rocking from every wall—the perfect recipe for comfort and sustenance. Piccolino is Santa Fe's answer for those missing the red-sauce joints of their childhood. Highbrow Italian food this is not; the quantities are hearty, the preparation is simple and robust, and no one will judge you if you lick your fingers. There are all the basics (a $6.99 Caesar salad, the best fried mozzarella around for $5.25, pizza, sandwiches, lasagna, ravioli, manicotti and our personal favorite: chicken parmesan with veggies and pasta for $12.50). But they are aware of their geographic location, so don't miss the pasta bolloco with chicken, Alfredo and green chile (also $12.50). If you want to bring your chicken parm back to your own couch, a drive-thru is available for orders called in ahead of time—but we'd argue that the restaurant itself is enough like home.
2890 Agua Fría St., 471-1480
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday