Bella Verona Ristorante Trattoria – 107 Essex St., Salem, MA 01970 – Since we were only in Salem for one night, we wanted to eat at a nice place. Conveniently, Bella Verona was right across the street from the hotel. The reviews online said that this was the best Italian food in Salem. I wouldn’t say that this is the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, but it was very good. Inside, it looks very much like an Italian restaurant because it has a lot of homestyle decor and the tables are close together, but not cramped. The layout looked like they made it fit the building, so tables were wedged in corners and wherever they could fit people. We started our meal with a baked calamari appetizer over polenta (on left). I’d never really had baked calamari before, but turns out that it’s pretty good. It wasn’t breaded, so it was light and the polenta acted like a deconstructed version of the breading although not as greasy. For dinner, I kept with the seafood theme and ordered the seafood risotto (on right). I was surprised at how flavorful it was and at how fresh the seafood tasted. Sometimes when ordering general “seafood” dishes, the items aren’t very fresh, but this was very well done. My girlfriend had the “Salciccia alla Provenzale Con Spaghetti” (or Spaghetti and Sausage with garlic and tomatoes). She really liked it too because it wasn’t over-dressed. From what I observed most of the people around us were ordering pasta dishes, so that is probably what they are best at. All in all everything was very well prepared and just tasted very home-like and comforting. The service was attentive and welcoming. I would recommend a visit here if you’re in Salem and looking for a nice meal.