Restaurant review: Toscano brings Italian food to Harvard Square in Cambridge

Branzino al forno at Toscano, Mediterranean sea bass,  is cooked in white wine, with rosemary, lemon, and garlic.
Branzino al forno at Toscano, Mediterranean sea bass, is cooked in white wine, with rosemary, lemon, and garlic.Credit: JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

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TOSCANO

Toscano opened in Harvard Square at the end of March, a second branch of the Beacon Hill restaurant with the same name. The Brattle Street spot was for years scented with garlic naan and tandoori chicken as Cafe of India; now pasta and grilled meats take their place. And a restaurant that was previously often empty is now busy all of the time.

It is surprising there wasn’t a Toscano, or something very much like it, already in Harvard Square. Between casual, pizza-oriented spots (Cambridge 1, Bertucci’s) and upscale interpretations of Italian cuisine (Rialto), there is a big niche to fill. Traditional Italian restaurants don’t open at the rate they did a few years ago, but when they do, people flock to them.

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