In the heart of downtown Fairbanks , Gambardella’s Pasta Bella (706 2nd Ave., 907/457-2992, www.gambardellas.com , Sun. 4–10 p.m., Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., entrées $12–24) is justifiably popular for pasta, homemade Italian bread, the “mother of all lasagnas,” gourmet pizzas, calzones, and double fudge cheesecake. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, service is accommodating, and there’s a small upstairs deck. Dinner prices are reasonable.
A modern and trendy downtown eatery inside Springhill Suites, Lavelle’s Bistro (575 1st Ave., 907/450-0555, www.lavellesbistro.com , lunch daily 11 a.m.–2 p.m. summer, dinner daily 4:30–10 p.m. year-round, entrées $17–30) has a 3,000-bottle wall of wine, an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work, and outside dining in the summer. The upscale menu encompasses seafood risotto, rack of lamb, oven-roasted duck, French onion soup, and great salads (try the salad Teresa), but locals also rave about the desserts, especially the warm banana wontons with roasted pecans and Meyer’s rum.