Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. Prices: Appetizers $3.95 to $6.50, entrees $7.95 to $16.95. Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express. Reservations: Not required.
If you rated Landini Brothers dish by dish, this Italian restaurant would rank above average--pretty good but nothing to rave about. But food alone does not a restaurant make, and quite simply, Landini Brothers has great spirit.
Stone walls, beam ceilings and crisp white tablecloths create an air of rustic country elegance. The diners might be wearing tuxedos or sport shirts. The maitre d' paces the slate floors with a smile. And everyone appears to be having a splendid time. So, when the kitchen slips, and it does, it's often easy to feel forgiving.
The menu reads like a thousand other Italian menus, with the standard dishes: pasta, veal, fish, an obligatory squid and a lone chicken. We suggest you skip the appetizers--with the exception of the Clams Casino and Oysters Rockefeller, which are made with a mustard-tinted sauce. Start instead with a half portion of pasta--the menu doesn't say you can order half portions, so be assertive and the waiter will cheerfully oblige--such as Tortellini Alla Panna--ring-shaped noodles stuffed with ham and veal in a light Parmesan cream--or Agnollotti, pasta pillows bulging with spinach, tossed in a mild sauce that tastes straightforward and fresh.
The cooking at Landini is not always dependable. The kitchen might saute a trout perfectly, until the meat has barely changed from pink to white and is meltingly soft, but then shrug it off with an overbearing sauce.
One night our friend's lamb chops--the special--were overcooked and chewy. When he complained, the kitchen sent a second platter of lamb that was undercooked, pallid and almost revoltingly fatty--inexcusable at $15.95.
But when the kitchen suceeds, it triumphs. We've had wonderful Lombatina Di Vitello, a thick veal chop, seductive and pink, sprinkled with white wine, mushrooms and scallions. And the shrimp, a frequent special, can be spectacular--huge, tender but still resisting, garlicky, buttery and sprinkled with wine. Down it all with a good red Chianti Classico or white Gavi. We've seen some of the same wines at other area restaurants for several dollars more.
King Street is lined with ice cream and pastry shops, but stay inside Landini for dessert. It could be a plain dense chocolate cake or creamy-smooth cheesecake. Or, if you're lucky, zuccota--a pale, frozen mocha cream with bittersweet chocolate chips and sauce.
If most dishes at Landini were a couple of dollars cheaper, we'd rave about this restaurant. Instead, consider it one of the better-spirited restaurants on King Street but, like so many others in Old Town, a bit overpriced.