Tantalize your tastebuds with authentic, Italian-style cuisine and seafood at Cicily's Pastaria & Grill in Medford.

Tantalize your tastebuds with authentic, Italian-style cuisine and seafood at Cicily's Pastaria & Grill in Medford.

Owners Zoe and Ryan Lehmann and chef Stefano Cipollone have created a menu of traditional pasta dishes — such as fettuccine Alfredo, pasta carbonara and risotto — along with shrimp, lobster and fish courses for the new restaurant.

Cioppino, a blend of white fish, shellfish and calamari served over creamy, Parmesan risotto, is one of the specialties offered at Cicily's. Others are chicken or eggplant Parmigiana and salmon grilled with herbs, lemon and capers and served with capellini pasta, to name but two. Cipollone learned to cook in his Italian family's Florida restaurants.

The fare also includes a good selection of steaks and a gourmet burger, along with Italian-style leg of lamb, pork sirloin and the essential spaghetti and meatballs.

Cicily's is in the former location of Kelton's Steak & Seafood. The Lehmanns kept Kelton's open after its owners left a couple of months ago. They planned their own menu with Cipollone, then held a soft opening near the first of June for their business.

Rogue Valley diners seem to have no trouble taking to the restaurant's new name and cuisine — I've dined there twice with friends and found the house packed with customers. It might be a good idea to make reservations, especially on weekends.

The Lehmanns kept Kelton's furnishings and fixtures, including the glass sconces along the walls and a bar in the front for happy-hour clientele. The dining areas are lovely, with booths, tables and patio seating, and the service is professional and friendly.

I have a habit of ordering Alfredo on my first visit to any Italian restaurant. I figure if the Alfredo is up to par, then other dishes usually are, as well. This dish should be rich with Parmesan cheese and have a smooth, creamy texture. And the pasta should be cooked through — neither soggy, nor hard in the center.

This particular dish at Cicily's was perfection. The steaming pasta tossed with a generous amount of Alfredo sauce, mushrooms and garlic ($10.95) was delicious. I added shrimp to my plate ($4.95) and ordered the salad of mixed greens topped with a fresh basil vinaigrette.

My dining partners tried the eggplant Parmesan ($16.95) and the grilled vegetables served over risotto ($10.95). I was told the eggplant dish had a pleasant, savory flavor complemented by the salmon chowder available that evening. The risotto made with roasted onions had a smoky, sweet flavor. We indulged ourselves with tiramisu ($4.95) for dessert — one order, three forks. Other traditional Italian desserts are: cheesecake made with ricotta and mascarpone; flourless chocolate tort; and affogato (espresso and ice cream or gelato).

I enjoyed the Alfredo so much that I ordered it the second time I visited Cicily's. This time, I opted for chicken ($2.95) and encouraged another dining pal to do the same. It was just as delicious the second time around. Salmon also may be added ($3.95).

The pasta at Cicily's is not handmade, according to Mail Tribune Food Editor Sarah Lemon. The reason is that the kitchen isn't large enough to accommodate pasta production. The kitchen also couldn't hold a pizza oven, and the Lehmanns had to chuck their menu of pies.

Zoe Lehmann's pizza and calzone were mainstays of her first cafe, Zoey's, founded in 2003 in Phoenix and later moved to downtown Ashland.

I have to confess that I didn't notice pies and calzone missing from the menu. I only saw all the courses I must try in the near future.

Dinners range from $8.95 for pasta Bolognese to $23.95 for filet mignon. The happy-hour menu has a mini antipasti platter for $5.95 or flatbread pizza du jour for $8.95, among other selections, from 4 to 6 p.m. daily. The lunch menu offers panini, salads and smaller portions of pasta at lower prices.

— Laurie Heuston