Whenever friends or family visit, I take them out for Italian because everyone can find something to order. My go-to spot of the moment is Trattoria Stella in Highland (the eatery has a second outpost in City Park). Located in a 122-year-old house, the small, 13-year-old restaurant has charm, a terrific location, and a straightforward menu.
A surefire winner is the silky 32nd Street pasta, a menu holdover since Stella first opened. Chef Nick Abata builds the dish by sautéing shrimp and toasted pecans in extra-virgin olive oil and adding sun-dried cherries and garlic. He then bolsters the sauce with red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, and lemon juice before tossing it with spinach spaghetti. This finishing touch: A dollop of creamy goat cheese and a smattering of Parmesan. The dish is rich but still light enough for a hot summer's night.
3470 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-1128; 3201 E. Colfax Ave., 303-320-8635