While making your way through the labyrinth of the Financial District, the instinct is to direct your gaze upward at the soaring architecture, or straight ahead so you don’t collide with a speeding pedestrian. But if you fail to glance down once in a while, you’ll pass right by Caffé Graziella, a subterranean enclave with all the charm of a corner trattoria in Naples, the city from which owner Carmen Sordillo hails. That said, it hardly matters that Graziella isn’t situated off a leafy piazza along the Riviera. Descend the curved, marbled staircase into a den that suggests both your favorite childhood neighborhood pizza parlor and a quaint Italian café, and prepare to indulge, Italian-style.
That, of course, means you should arrive with an appetite. Graziella spoons out the home cooking in heaping portions. A daily special isn’t just a fresh featured menu item. It’s an entrée like baked salmon in silky lemon-butter sauce ($6.25), or carefully constructed baked lasagna ($6.25) accompanied by generous helpings of rice pilaf or potatoes and salad. The hot sandwiches, which can be had on lengthy baguettes, come brimming with the stuff of old favorites, like a grilled tuna melt ($5.50) or grilled cheese ($3.25). Shish kebab pita sandwiches ($6.25) bulge with Greek salad and charcoal-grilled fillings like chicken and beef.
And what would an Italian alcove be if it didn’t see you off with dessert? Three scoops of imported Bindi gelato out of an old-school-style cart cost just $3. It’s enough to make you disappointed that you can’t spend the rest of the day strolling through cobblestone alleys and fresco-decked churches.
Caffé Graziella, located at 45 Milk Street, in Boston, is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (617) 338-2112.