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Max-a-Mia Ristorante Restaurant Review: Max-a-Mia produces instant smiles. You see the chefs at work over the wood-burning oven in the exposed kitchen, you smell the garlic and hear the happy din and you're quickly grinning in anticipation of good food and fun. Cheery staff immediately plies guests with a basket of warm, fresh bread and a dish of olives. Add a glass or two of a super Tuscan, and you could almost call it a night. If only there weren't so much more to savor, like the peppery beef carpaccio with arugula or Rhode Island-style calamari. Then there are the thin, crunchy stone pies, judiciously scattered with all manner of salty, earthy toppings. Go for the marinated chicken with broccoli, applewood-smoked bacon and caramelized onions. Pastas are topnotch, too, especially the signature Max-a-Penne, a carryover from the original Max Downtown in Hartford, which marries grilled chicken and escarole with plum tomatoes. Intricate fish dishes are also available, even a Milanese take on Connecticut-caught fluke. Sip grappa or gourmet tea while you try to resist the peanut butter mousse served with dark chocolate sea salt gelato.