Good restaurants, even old-school ones, must change with the times.

Good restaurants, even old-school ones, must change with the times.

Updating aesthetics and menus are important when accommodating customers' tastes, which are constantly evolving.

Despite the occasional heavy hand with the salt shaker, Moretti's of Arlington is mostly successful doing just that. The Italian restaurant, open for dinner only, has been restructuring its menu over the years to reflect growing trends while also keeping a foot solidly planted in the past. It's a delicate line, to be sure.

In a nod to the new, Moretti's has developed a solid register of mini burgers ($10 for two). Our two choices -- a garlicky meatball and a thin slice of lightly fried eggplant -- are wonderful, served with sweet-potato fries doused with balsamic.

Showing respect for the old, the restaurant's penne with crumbled sausage ($16) is a solid option, using a good sausage-to-pasta ratio and a spicy tomato sauce fortified with mushrooms, peppers and onions.

More respect for pork is shown in an appetizer in which two links of grilled fennel sausage ($9) are plated with slender cuts of caramelized red onion and red pepper and a whole grilled Anaheim pepper, which provides a pleasurable but conspicuous amount of spice in each bite.

In this day of cutting corners, it's nice to see a restaurant that cares about its bread. Here, it's a half-dome-shaped half loaf with a firm crust on the outside and super-soft insides, good for soaking up the marinara or transporting some of the seasoned butter.

What separates a good salad from an OK one? In Moretti's case, it's a made-to-order chopped salad ($6) using fresh romaine, tomatoes, pepperoncini and such dressed with a good vinaigrette. We could have done without the domestic olives, which aren't bad, but the salad just begged for briny ones.

Moretti's has a smattering of quality, high-end dishes. The restaurant gets better-than-average marks for its seafood risotto ($22), a little clumpy in some areas. The dish features tender calamari rings, plump mussels, firm shrimp and hunks of salmon that aren't at all dry, showing they were added at just the right time in the cooking process.

In another, two 4-ounce filets ($22) are lightly salted and peppered, leaving the flavor of the lean meat to be enjoyed. The beef is plated with a medley of domestic mushrooms (not the promised portobellos), bacon, pine nuts and spinach dressed in a rich gorgonzola cream sauce, not painfully heavy but definitely salty.

Entrees, never excessively portioned, are served with wedding soup or a house or Caesar salad. Go with the soup, nicely balanced but a tad salty, or the house salad, embellished with pasta shells and fresh green beans.

The wine list has plenty of bold reds to stand up to the more assertive flavors Moretti's has to offer. Unfortunately, vintages are not listed. Consider the Monte Antico Sangiovese ($6.50 a glass, $26 a bottle), sturdy and slightly fruity, suitable to a number of dishes.

The service was never obtrusive or less than courteous, but is prone to the occasional shortcoming. The restaurant deserves kudos for a recent Saturday, when we showed up without reservations. The staff was more than happy to seat us with one caveat: The table would need to be free in less than an hour. Even with our time constraints, we never felt rushed. Our server was gracious and appropriately paced our courses, making the 60 minutes whiz by.

Even with some of the notable changes at Moretti's, it's nice to see some things, such as a polite server staff, never go out of style.

Pricing: Inexpensive to expensive

Reservations: Accepted

Hours: 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed Sunday

Call 614-486-2333