Eating at a new restaurant is like going on a first date. If your expectations aren’t met, the match is doomed. But if you keep coming back, it means you feel a connection, maybe love.

And so it was with DeNucci’s, from Ballyhoo Hospitality, which runs Gemini across the street and six other spots. Walking by, my wife and I admired how this newcomer filled out its corner space. It looked like it had always been there, beckoning folks inside with the words along its roof: “Pizza. Aperitivo. Classics.” We went in. The menu offered a canny mix of old and new — from minestrone to artichoke Vesuvio. We liked our food well enough: an old-school chopped salad, ice cold and bright with sweet pickled peppers; (slightly gummy) housemade tagliatelle with a rich Bolognese. The portions were huge, the leftovers good enough to box.

Eager to return, I dined at the bar the next week. Uh-oh. The busy barback didn’t notice me. “Can I order?” I yelled. “I’d like a Negroni and —” Too late. Before I’d finished the order, he’d already rushed off to make the drink. Fortunately, it was great and set over a limpid ice block. I ordered a plate of tender grilled calamari in a lemony, buttery sauce worthy of a finger swipe. The bartender kept a watchful eye, and when he dropped the bill, he said, “The drink’s on me, we messed up.” Be still, my heart. I think I’m falling for this place.