Some food satisfies, some sustains; some food surprises, some seduces. How Andiamo! manages to consistently do all of the above is a secret kept in the kitchen, but the first hints arrive with the appetizers. The crispy polenta, swimming in Gorgonzola sauce, and beet salad accompanied by olive tapanade crostini are legendary riddles worth investigating. But Andiamo! is not a place to fear leaving the familiar-branching out is mandatory in order to maximize enjoyment of the well-balanced menu. The nightly soup specials are often savory enough to leave unsuspecting diners unable to form whole sentences for several minutes at a time. The risotto fritter with radicchio hits the tongue with such a potent sensation that bladder control is a real issue. Just when you think your tongue can stand no further pleasure, there are entrées to consider, buoyed by an earthy, basic and brilliant wine list. Billed since its inception as a "neighborhood trattoria," this cozy Garfield Street gastronomerie has cast a larger-than-average neighborhood net, winning popularity among locals, visitors, celebs and rarefied food freaks alike. The downside is a packed restaurant, a longer wait for a table and watching strangers eat food that you may have developed a sense of intimacy with. The upside is that, for all its buzz, the atmosphere maintains its easy style, the staff its knowledgeable and friendly professionalism and the kitchen its joyful noisemaking and straightforward Italian soul.322 Garfield St., 995-9595.
Dinner nightly. $$www.andiamoonline.com