Fine food and drink, in both preparation and consumption, are such fierce pleasures it's a shame to view them with any practicality. The slow saturation of flavor and texture into the body via the tongue is really the only publicly tolerated erogenous stimulation-celebrate it with abandon. There should be no concern for the consequences of a creamy gorgonzola sauce, no attention paid to the price of perfect tenderloin. ***image1***Fortunately, there is Andiamo! to temper that fantasy with a cozy atmosphere, a perfectly rounded menu and-rarest of all-value. The cioppino (fisherman's stew) is a hearty, saliva-simmering, populist classic given simple sophistication with a sprinkling of saffron. Garlic crostini for dipping in the white wine broth seals the deal. The fettucini dish, laced with asparagus, morel mushrooms, shallots and cream, is another ingenious blend of basics, as are the vegetarian lasagna and the chicken parmesan, all hovering between $15 and $17. Even when combined with a sumptuous appetizer, like crispy polenta swimming in the aforementioned gorgonzola sauce, you'll be getting a meal that's twice as good and half the cost of those at many highly-lauded establishments. And you'll be more comfortable; just as Andiamo! merges food fetishism and a sensible menu, the small restaurant manages neighborhood charm and urban elan.
322 Garfield St., 995-9595. Dinner nightly. $$.
SFR Pick: Roasted beet and arugula salad, fish of the night with risotto fritter, vegetable ragout and salsa verde.