Pirro's Restaurante

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Somewhere between designer cooking and your mama's kitchen lies a place like Pirro's -- a solid, satisfying Italian restaurant, just off of Woodstock's historic square, with just the right amount of 21st century panache and home town comfort. Owner Terry Pirro, whose ancestors hail from the Old Country, worked hard to restore the original tin ceiling (circa 1897) and balance a compelling menu of traditional (veal Marsala, baked mostaccioli) and nouveau (pancetta, garlic and red pepper flakes sauteed in olive oil and tossed with fresh asparagus and Romano over spaghetti). The elongated, roomy dining room of exposed brick and soft lighting generates a mellow mood, even though the weekend crowd surges and ebbs hour by hour. A perfect example of the old/new mix arrives in the bruschetta platter: a thick slice of fresh buffalo milk mozzarella under roasted tomatoes, basil and balsamic reduction; another of pesto goat cheese and diced tomatoes; and a delightful melange of red and golden beets, pesto goat cheese and white balsamic -- all three versions sitting on rounds of toasted baguettes. Classic ratatouille is baked in an hollowed eggplant oozing veggies and cheese, and the Contorno (side dish) options are great for vegetarians: caramelized onion or red pepper risotto; potato pie; and green beans mated with red wine vinaigrette and thinly sliced onions -- all for less than a fiver. Nearly a dozen sandwiches, from a zesty muffuletta to a righteous sirloin steak sandwich, are available for lunch and dinner, but the pizza menu is hard to resist. Pirro's pies are simultaneously rustic and light, spread with olive oil, Alfredo, pesto, BBQ or traditional red sauce. The eggplant parmesan pizza, for example, features ricotta, sauteed eggplant and mozzarella atop marinara. Pirro's goes through around 50 gallons of homemade marinara, scented with carrots, celery, onions, fresh basil and fennel, every day. Finely executed veal dishes, 14 pasta creations, fresh seafood and a nice little kids' menu round out the myriad possibilities. Pirro schools his waitstaff in the fine wine list and has fun in the bar with spirits such as pom-tinis and a "Wrong Island" -- a Woodstock version of a Long Island Ice Tea using only top-shelf liquor. Saturday night live entertainment and an upstairs private party room, too.