Hot Plate

In Italy, a bowl of minestrone is as good as a road map. If the soup contains lots of tomatoes, you're in the Italian south; if it contains beans, you're in the central region; and if it contains rice, you're in the north. If it should happen that your minestrone contains ziti noodles, the chances are that you're not in Italy at all, but in Collina's Italian Cafe (12311 Kingsride, 365-9497, and other locations). At Collina's, the minestrone is a synthesis of elements -- rice being the one exception -- from all of Italy's regions. The result is rich and potent and beautifully balanced. It's cheap as well; a bowl costs only $2.99. If that's not abbondanza, I don't know what is.

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