Weekly listings reflect a range of dining possibilities in central Arkansas, across a spectrum of settings and price ranges. Restaurant reviewers' visits are anonymous and all expenses are paid by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Bargain means a meal (without beverage or dessert) is typically less than $12. Moderate is $12 to $25. Expensive is $25 and up. To read recent restaurant reviews in their entirety, visit arkansasonline.com/restaurants.
5510 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, (501) 663-5355
The new ownership of this popular funky Italian-focused spot in the Heights has increased the size of the menu and the wine list slightly, but the food and service are still tops.
Lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Full bar. Reservations. Moderate.
BRUNO'S LITTLE ITALY
310 Main St., Little Rock, (501) 372-7866 (37-BRUNO)
The downtown return of the venerable Italian restaurant, now in its fourth location, maintains more than six decades of transitions and recipes more than a century old (specializing in handmade Southern Italian pasta dishes with hearty red sauces), with a decor that blends modern with nostalgia (including the return of the pizza window), and with improved food quality and plate presentation.
Dinner Tue-Fri. Full bar. Moderate.
405 W. Seventh St., Little Rock, (501) 372-0238
This downtown triple storefront continues, as it has for years, to serve hearty Italian specialties with a European flair and a charming, seedy elegance, well suited for a business lunch or a pre-show dinner.
Lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Thu-Sat. Full bar. Corkage fee. Reservations. Moderate.
12325 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock, (501) 407-0400
A change in owner/chefs hasn't changed the excellent sweet basil marinara sauce that continues to be the foundation of fine southern Italian/Sicilian pasta dishes and tasty pizza in this quaint, exuberantly decorated eatery, right on the Pulaski-Saline county line.
Dinner Mon-Sat. Beer, wine. Moderate.
425 Main St., North Little Rock, (501) 376-3463
This coy, cozy, high-end predominantly Northern Italian restaurant serves some of North Little Rock's best cuisine -- sumptuous pasta dishes, hearty grilled meats and rich desserts -- with an impressive wine list in a renovated, century-plus-old building in the heart of the trendy Argenta District.
Dinner Mon-Sat. Full bar. Corkage fee. Reservations. Expensive.
1315 Breckenridge Drive, Little Rock, (501) 246-5422
A recent move from a dimly lighted hotel rathskeller has been a success: The new place seats twice as many diners, its popular menu of mostly Northern Italian specialties has remained more or less intact and it has expanded its wine list.
Dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations. Moderate-expensive.
ZAFFINO'S BY NORI
2001 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood, (501) 834-7530
There is a decidedly casual feel about this ambitious Sherwood eatery that specializes in unpretentious and substantial Italian dishes, including pasta with rich sauces.
Dinner Tue-Sat. Beer, wine. Corkage fee. Reservations. Moderate.
Weekend on 07/24/2014
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