Bruna’s Table

Careful, but not fussy
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  February 10, 2010

BRUNA’S TABLE | 12 Canal St, Westerly | 401.637.4888 | brunastable.com | Tues-Thurs, lunch 11 am-3 pm, dinner 5-9 pm; fri-sat, breakfast 8-11 am, lunch 11:30 am-3 pm, dinner 5-10 pm; sun, brunch 8 am-3 pm, dinner 5-9 pm |Major credit cards | Beer + wine | Sidewalk-level accessible

Considering that Westerly has a large population with Italian heritage, it's curious that the town is not known for good Italian restaurants. But also considering that you can only sit down to dine at one place at a time, the dearth is no longer lamentable. Bruna's Table opened its doors a year ago, with the resounding cry of "let the olive oil flow!"

There must be a rule somewhere that Italian restaurants have to remind you of your bosomy immigrant grandmother's parlor, whether or not you ever had one. Cozy comfort is the motif at this restaurant. Floral details set a feminine tone, from framed wall hangings here to large sunflowers in a pitcher-vase there. The walls are painted a warm rose, which is complemented by dark wood chairs and uncovered tables, and a tile floor in dark earth tones. Ornately decorated plates, visually delicious, are at each place when you sit down.

According to their website, the restaurant uses "our mother's Tuscan and Abruzzese family recipes," supports local growers, and serves hormone-free meats and free-range poultry. A shout-out is also given to the "slow food" philosophy of relaxed dining. For gluten-free diets, the menu says that farro or rice flour pastas are available for an extra $2.

A breadbasket was brought soon, filled with an especially chewy, high-gluten Italian bread, to my appreciation, along with aromatic, high-quality olive oil. There isn't a full bar; no one needs a cocktail with this tempting selection of nine artisanal beers and a good selection of wines. As well as Moretti, the obligatory Italian label, they have such offerings as Stone Smoked Porter and a couple of Belgian choices. The largest category of wines is Italian whites and reds, but other countries are represented and there are eight choices by the glass.

There were only four antipasti on the menu, besides Tuscan bean soup and mine-strone, the day's special. But they were interesting, starting with crab cakes with a tomato and caper remoulade; beef carpaccio under lemon truffle oil; and prosciutto-wrapped shrimp in orange sauce with polenta cake. Note how each restrained accompaniment is designed to let the flavor of the plate's main event come through. A couple of our gang of four were intrigued by the last starter, calamari Mediterraneano ($9), because it varied from the usual Rhode Island style. Sautéed rather than fried, it had diced tomatoes and bits of hot cherry peppers, but the garlic component was infused into cubes of potato. The portion was small, but the creamy contrast was well appreciated.

The most ambitious main dish ordered was arrosto di maiale alla Toscana ($18), roast pork "seasoned," as the menu had it, with prosciutto and pesto. The moist slices were atop a marvelous sweet potato polenta, draped with grilled asparagus spears, and served with an interesting apple chutney and Chianti sauce. There was nary a complaint from any of the samplers.

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