A table for one is never a source of embarrassment at Pompei Bakery, where patrons are too pleased about the hearty portions to suspiciously eye solo diners. With its upscale cafeteria setup, Pompei offers an authentic Tuscan cafe atmosphere with prices that allow the dollar to triumph over the euro. Marble floors, frosted glass windows and a tantalizing row of pastas make up for the fact that you have to order at the counter. Though the bakery has several locations throughout the city, each replete with a mix of families, lunching colleagues and singles, the Sheffield and Wellington location is a guilty pleasure for many a Brown line commuter.
Menu offerings focus on traditional Italian cuisine: bruschetta, calamari, pizzas and calzone-style pizza strudels. Standouts include the chopped chicken salad, which includes greens, roasted chicken, fried proscuitto, blue cheese, Italian olives, red onions and tomatoes with Marie's vinaigrette ($5.95 for a small, $7.95 for a large). Hand rolled pizzas come thick or thin with any imaginable topping. You can buy by the slice for less than a round trip on the L. Italian sandwiches and pizza strudels fit in the same price category. Bring a book, bring a $10 bill: After a few meals at Pompei you're liable to forget that you've actually never had the authentic piazza experience.
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Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Robin Wright