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Enzo's Restaurant and Cafe; Galaxy

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Enzo's Restaurant and Cafe ($$)

In Italianate-looking establishments you dine in near total darkness, surrounded by faux marble decor and busy waiters who further distract you from the $25 plate of pasta you order. Fugettaboutit.

Enzo's avoids the aforementioned pretensions. It offers creative food at fair prices and throws in excellent service in a pleasant setting to elevate itself above the pale of the Sicily Sideshows.

Cafe-style lunch and casual evening dining create a comfortable atmosphere, while a formal dining room provides the perfect candlelit experience. The menu is extensive enough to accommodate both the classics, such as spaghetti Bolognese ($19), and more adventurous offerings like the roast duck with pear and frangelico cream sauce ($21). The wine list is short, but should receive attention when the tavern expansion is completed early this month. Desserts are all made in-house and include cannoli, a hot fudge cake and a banana pastry.

It is easy to understand why Enzo's garners plenty of return business. Chef Julio Ayala's cooking is creative and served in an understated and comfortable atmosphere, and the service is efficient and accommodating. Drive out to the West End and see why people keep returning to Enzo's. It's a safe bet that you'll go back too. — Randall Stamper

Broad View Shopping Center

36 Broad Street Road
Manakin-Sabot, Va. 23103
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday - Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday - closed

Galaxy ($$)

The Galaxy restaurant in Carytown returned from the mother ship last fall with some refreshing changes. Once an overly bright retro diner, its intergalactic cuteness has been buried under somber tiles, glass-encased booths and piped-in blues.

Although some gimmicky galactic themes still linger, you won't find them in the food, and that helps make the Galaxy's latest rebirth worth a visit.

The Galaxy has not changed ownership, but new chef Ed Vasaio of Mamma 'Zu brings a fresh menu. The conventional lunch and brunch menus offer local favorites ($4.95 to $10.95), and the dinner menu is especially pleasing.

Starters include a generous wilted-spinach salad ($6.95) and steamed mussels in tomato broth ($10.95), while entrees include a range of pastas for $10.95 and a risotto of the day.

The bill can add up, particularly if you order a bottle of wine (from $17 and up), but the thriftier Tuesday-night menu offers pasta for two, salad and wine for $30. — Kevin Finucane

3109 W. Cary St.
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Saturday 11a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday Thursday, Sunday 5 p.m. — 10 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 5 p.m. — 11 p.m.

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