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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.