There are not many things that can pull my home-body self away from my family on a Tuesday night, but a tasting dinner at a Zagat rated local restaurant is one of them. Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to dine (with eight of my fellow local food bloggers) at Ristorante Sapori located in Royal Palm Plaza in Boca Raton. Wow!
Before I get to the details, I should let you know that my husband, Scott, has frequently said that he could open an Italian restaurant in about 10 minutes. The checkered tablecloth, the pasta with red sauce, a side of warm bread and a glass of chianti. That’s what he thinks of most Italian restaurants – and it’s why we seldom venture out to one. And that’s why I was so impressed by Ristorante Sapori — it was none of those things.
The restaurant is located in the very walkable Royal Palm Plaza. This cozy gem is relaxed and welcoming. White linens cover the tables and a golden glow from the hanging lights casts fellow diners in a flattering light. Chef Marco Pindo, originally from the Abruzzi region of Italy, turns out beautifully crafted traditional dishes as well as more innovative Italian cuisine.
Chef Marco welcomed his guests with pours of very drinkable Sicilian wines as well as crisp crostini and house-made compound butters — the pesto butter was my favorite, and I’m going to have to make some soon for the blog. While we nibbled, he gave us a brief run down of how our evening tasting would progress. Rather than serving one dish from each category of menu offerings, he would compose a sampling of salads, soup, pasta/risotto, supremely fresh fish, specialty meat mains and a selection of tartufos for dessert. Good thing I skipped lunch!
Our first course was a trio of salads. Arugula, Strawberry and Gorgonzola with Vin Cotto Dressing, an Apple Radicchio Endive Salad with a Lemon Mint vinaigrette and a Classic Caesar. The first salad, with bites of juicy strawberry, were well balanced against the pungent Gorgonzola. The apple salad was bright and crispy and was a favorite with the diners. I liked them all, but I’m a sucker for caesar. This one was perfectly dressed.
While I grazed and chatted with my fellow diners, the friendly wait staff attentively refilled empty glasses and kept the evening flowing. Next came the Yellow Lentil Soup. Tiny bits of lentil in the most savory and satisfying broth. I found myself scraping the bottom of the bowl to get every last drop. I would go back to Sapori just for more of this soup and I’m hoping that Chef Marco will share his secret with me.
At Sapori, the pasta is made fresh, in-house, and on Tuesday and Thursdays, you can get a ringside seat to the production. Our tasting menu included Rigatoni Sapori, a Seafood Risotto and Pasta del Giorno. The rigatoni were perfectly cooked lightly dressed with a tomato sauce laced with prosciutto, onion and creamy mascarpone. The Pasta del Giorno was served as a little nest of ultra-thin noodles tossed in fresh tomatoes and basil – as bright and flavorful as summer. But my favorite by far was the Seafood Risotto. The risotto was attentively made in a light seafood stock and studded with tender bites of shrimp, scallops and lobster. This is another dish that I will definitely return for.
Chef Marco spoke to our table before the next course… fish of the day, which included King Salmon and Corvina. There are several sauces and preparations offered on the menu for his fish dishes, but for our table, Chef wanted to highlight the freshness of the filets as well as his skill in cooking them. They were simply grilled and served with lemon and haricot verts. The corvina was flaky and meaty and positively divine, but the star for me was the King Salmon. Chef explained that King Salmon is the most prized and consequently, the most expensive salmon. His preparation was crispy and sizzling on the outside, but rich and buttery within. I could have eaten three plates of that — make it a priority when you visit.
The next taste (I know, there’s more???) came in the form of Chicken Arrosticini and Veal Pizzaiola with a tender potato round. The chicken, marinated and grilled was skewered as per the Abruzzi tradition. Meant to be eaten by stripping the meat from the skewer with your teeth, this rendition was tender and flavorful. The veal was lightly breaded and fried and smothered in a rich tomato gravy. If I had been wearing pants, this is when I would have undone the top button. Luckily, I was wearing my fat dress — stretchy and forgiving!
Finally for dessert, a sampling of two Tartufos — vanilla/chocolate and pistachio. Each of us was served a wedge, but they brought out a whole one for us to see. It was a scoop of the ice cream of choice (about the size of a softball) dunked into chocolate and chilled until it formed a solid shell. Absolutely delicious. There are other dessert options available as well.
Here’s The Best Part:
Chef Marco has provided me with FIVE Preferred Client Reward Cards to share with my readers, so if you’re in the South Florida area, leave me a note and I’ll send you a card worth 15% off your check (Maximum 4 persons per card – not valid with other promotions). First come, first served!
3 Course “Sapori Bites” lunch menu is available Tuesday-Friday from 12pm-2pm
4 Course “Sapori Bites” dinner menu is available Sunday-Thursday from 5:30pm-7pm
301 Via de Palmas
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Hours of Operation:
Fri-Sat 5:30-9:3 Sapori.com