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The Slow Food guys would be horrified. I’m sort of surprised myself. But I am begrudgingly fond of the C&O Trattoria by the Venice Pier, a vast, beachy warren of tented patios teeming with families, beach dwellers, college kids and everybody else trying to squeeze the maximum amount of fun from a minimum amount of money. The house Chianti, which you draw yourself from coolers set around the perimeter of each dining room, is served on the honor system, and is drinkable. Most of your calories will be consumed in the form of so-called “killer garlic rolls,” which arrive hot at your table at approximately 30-second intervals. Appetizers and pastas are big enough to share; if you chip in a couple bucks extra for the “gargantuan” portion, they’re big enough to share with a lot of people. And although sauces tend to be on the creamy side, the quality of the cooking is higher than you would imagine it would be at a place that is obviously more about mass feeding than fine dining — linguine with lobster that doesn’t taste like something out of a drum; Sicilian chicken salad that is at least as much chicken as salad; and vast platters of overfried calamari that disappear as quickly as pistachio nuts.
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