When my wife and I travel, the one thing we always try to do is eat at restaurants we can't find locally. It's what we like to call a “food vacation.” Every now and then, we manage to have such an experience right here at home – a night out at a restaurant we’ve never been before or a return to a place we haven’t been in a while. We had one such experience a few weeks ago at the Italian Connection, located here in Fort Wayne on Taylor Street. The Italian Connection isn’t really the kind of place you just drop in, so you should definitely make a reservation. After walking into the restaurant for the first time, we discovered why: there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver once you’re inside. Honestly, though, that’s what I loved about it. It genuinely felt like eating at someone’s home, a home that exuded the warmth and familial bonds of an Italian family (specifically, the Fiato family, who own and operate the restaurant and whose pictures adorn the walls). We had a cozy table in the corner, surrounded by the aforementioned pictures, but also empty wine bottles – some autographed by former patrons – and Catholic iconography. It makes for a unique atmosphere. Our meal started with complimentary bread with homemade herb and garlic butter, some of the best I’ve ever had. If you read my Hall’s Prime Rib post, you know I’m a comfort food kind of guy, and so I love bread. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn, then, that we had the garlic cheese bread as an appetizer (yes, I regularly follow bread with bread). It wasn’t the typical Italian variety, but pita, which was a nice change of pace and very good. I ordered the chicken manicotti for dinner, which was delicious. The Italian Connection makes all their pasta from scratch, and that flavor really comes through. My wife had Alex’s Special, a shrimp and mushroom pasta dish, and I enjoyed the little bit of it I tried. For dessert we shared the zabaglione, a cinnamon and Marsala wine custard that was so good we took a stab at making it at home the next day (and it wasn’t half bad). I should mention the service, if only briefly. Our server was certainly competent, but he left us alone for most of the evening. We always had what we needed, but we never felt like he was hovering or intruding. If you’re looking for a romantic evening getaway or want to share the night with family and friends, you can’t beat the Italian Connection, located at 2725 Taylor Street, Fort Wayne. Call for reservations at (260) 432-9702 or visit them online!