Best Of 2011

Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap): Acero

This town has an abundance of red-sauce Italian joints (to put it gently). And if you're in the mood for simple, hearty food like someone's Italian American mama used to make, that's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. But sometimes you've got your palate dialed up for something more, shall we say, refined. Not better, necessarily, but existing on an entirely different plane (albeit one that would knock Mom's socks off). Fortunately, that plane is well within reach. In fact it's centrally located — in downtown Maplewood. The best restaurant in Jim Fiala's very strong family of four, Acero is spare and elegant, quite a contrast to the oh-so-decadent egg raviolo your server will rightly recommend: egg yolk wrapped in delicate pasta, served on a bed of mascarpone, ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sure, it sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, but after eating it, followed by a salad, an entrée and dessert, with plenty of carefully selected Italian wine to complement the medley of flavors, you'll swear you're in heaven.

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