IF IT WERE A STOCK film character, Bizzarro would be the quirky best friend with the zany personality and the novelty hair. And for these last 20-some years, that’s exactly how most serious food people have regarded the giddily alternative Wallingford ristorante, home of the red stucco walls and flea market chandeliers and ceiling-suspended furniture and gilt-framed everything. But a recent revisit revealed a more serious culinary enterprise than we’d remembered: excellent handmade pappardelle pasta in a gutsy Bolognese; Yukon Gold gnocchi in a moist, porky sugo di maiale, exotically cinnamoned; a lamb shank, famous across Wallingford, served in a figgy demi-glace atop a polenta cake and braised kale. The food was serious and intentional—most derived, admirably, from within 300 miles—and delivered by the friendliest crew of pierced people in town. No wonder it’s so bloody hard to get a Saturday-night table.

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