My wife and I stopped in Salem while on the way to Asheville. Frankly, we didn't have high expectations about dining, but we decided to try Chianti, guided only by the brochure in our motel. From the outside it seemed to live up to our expectations: a modest place in an unimpressive building in a thoroughly ordinary location. What the heck, we thought, let's give it a try. That turned out to be the best decision we made all day.
What we found was an Italian restaurant (with a touch of Thai as well) that did things in the best Italian tradition---just let the ingredients speak for themselves. We had the best mussels we'd ever eaten, along with a fettucine raguttate that was simply unbelievable. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive to our needs and Luciano, the owner/chef, came to our table at the end and was utterly charming.
If you're ever in the Roanoke area, go west of the city to Salem and give Chianti a try. If your experience is anything like ours, you'll be glad you did. I can't guarantee you'll meet your former boss nine hundred miles from home, as we did, but even without that it's a stop worth making.
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