Forza, a cross between a romantic Italian restaurant and a douchey sports bar, has one of the strangest atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. Chandeliers, candles, and blaring flat-screen TVs illuminate the room; the waitresses wore supershort Bulls jersey dresses and high heels, while the owner, who came over to inquire earnestly about whether we’d enjoyed our meal, was charming in a lilac-striped shirt and matching tie. He appeared concerned that we hadn’t made much of a dent in the football-size plate of bucatini alla carbonara, which wasn’t a reflection so much on the quality of the pasta as the amount. In fact, despite its sports-bar aspirations, Forza appears to be serious about its food. Despite being cooked slightly past al dente, the bucatini was quite respectable. As it happened, though, we’d filled up on the arancini, saffron rice balls filled with fontina and served with a San Marzano tomato dipping sauce. Surprisingly light, with a crispy exterior and a melty interior, they were the evening's clear winner. Coming in last was a Caesar salad made with whole romaine leaves, which made it difficult to eat, and overloaded with whole marinated anchovies. By the time the dessert menu arrived, we were too full to even consider it.
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