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In the kitchen Paul Katsarikas has been cooking Italian dishes and making his own pasta for 40 years, the last 29 at Bella Costa Ristorante in Framingham. The restaurant is known as a cozy place for date nights, get-togethers, and rustic Italian meals. Katsarikas brought in a rotating series of pianists a few years ago, because he wanted to hear music while he worked. “I tried to create a little atmosphere, a homey atmosphere,” he said. “And a good quality of food.”

The locale Bella Costa is in a stand-alone building in a shopping center on Cochituate Road, north of Route 9. A recent renovation gave the restaurant a warm feel. The interior has a mix of small booths, tables, and room for a few large parties; a separate function room is available. The dozen-seat bar is part of the dining room.

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On the menU A few years ago, in addition to the appetizers and entrees, Katsarikas introduced small plates, which are a slightly smaller serving of an entree at a reduced price. The portions are still large, and Katsarikas admits he has a heavy serving hand. “Sometimes, you know, I want to make sure they have enough, I’ll add a little more fish.”

The restaurant is known for its seafood and pasta combinations. The fresh pasta is cooked to a softer consistency than al dente, but Katsarikas said it has to be that way, given the texture. “It [gives] an extra flavor to the meal and it’s fresh,” he said.

Appetizers are in the $9 to $10 range and include traditional antipasti. The stuffed pepper offering ($9), fragrant and melty, came with one half each of a green and red pepper, each filled with cheeses. The veal marsala entree ($21) had four thinly pounded medallions and came with linguini noodles and a rich, mushroom-based sauce.

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For a less hefty meal, the small plates provide almost an entree portion, enough for a meal with leftovers. The small plate of frutti di mare ($13) had steamed mussels, freshly cooked shrimp and chunks of flaky white fish served over a choice of noodles. It was flavorful and made for a good second-day serving as well. The small plate of chicken gorgonzola ($13) had plenty of breast chicken, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts and dollops of gorgonzola cheese, served with a wine-based sauce over rigatoni noodles.

The restaurant has an ample beer and wine menu, and the glasses of wine come with individual mini-carafes, a nice touch. The service was excellent, attentive and the server made several suggestions.

Bella Costa Ristorante, 147 Cochituate Road, Framingham; 508-626-1726; www.BellaCosta.net.


Mary MacDonald can be reached at maryfmacdonald3@gmail.com.