Most diners opt to take the food at Daniela Pasta & Pastries to their homes. There, in the comfort of their own kitchens, they can divvy up an oversized serving of enticing lasagna, layered with thin-sliced ham or spears of asparagus; reheat a bowl of deliciously fresh-tasting, basil-tinted tomato soup; and spoon the cool slices of fresh mozzarella from a Caprese salad onto a serving plate. Or maybe they’ve chosen the pyramid-shaped crab ravioli, packed with shredded crab and a hint of shrimp, topped with chunky tomato sauce with a spicy bite. All that’s left is opening a bottle of wine—and, of course, enjoying the Sardinian specialties. After all, the osteria on The Avenue in Hampden is barely larger than a thumbprint and features a glass case filled with thick focaccia sporting crumbles of sausage or heaps of roasted vegetables, bowls filled with meatballs, tureens of soup, and platters of lasagna, with the space behind the counter just about large enough for the two servers on duty to turn around in.
Most meals are prepared in a kitchen upstairs and delivered to the display cases, where they wait until you’ve ordered and then are reheated in an oven.
Even so, eating in at Daniela’s has its charms. You can linger at one of the outdoor tables, where there are patio heaters for chilly days. Inside or out, you might also run into Daniela Useli herself, who moved to Baltimore from Sardinia and opened her tiny place in 2011.
It’s easy to forget you are in a restaurant, with five cafe tables lined along one wall, so close that your meal—and the bottle of wine you’ve brought along—might spread to the next table. You may linger as if you’re in the cluttered kitchen of a great aunt, the one who likes her fussy decorations and pastel hues. (Here, plastic grapes and flowers adorn the ceiling, and the walls are pink and peach, one painted with a mural to look like a rustic restaurant by the sea.)
There’s another case at Daniela’s, this one filled with sweets—like the flaky triangoli, a puff pastry filled with Nutella and banana, or ambrosial diplomatici with layers of cake dipped in pink Italian liqueur with cream filling. And, of course, there’s rich tiramisu, either cappuccino or strawberry flavored, in containers large enough for ample sharing, whether at Daniela or in your own kitchen.
›› Daniela Pasta & Pastries, 900 W. 36th St., 443-759-9320. Appetizers: $2-5.50; entrees: $6.99-8.50; desserts: $2.75-7.50.