Monday, March 22, 2010

Sportello


We made plans to visit Sportello for Restaurant Week with our friends Gretchen and Derek, and Drink just so happened to draw us in for an aperitif.
A Monday night out is a lovely way to start off the work week. 
It wasn't the perfect weather for a stroll, but I think the city is beautiful, even in the drizzle and fog. It looks kind of mysterious, yes?
We meandered down into the subterranean space that houses Drink and found our friends already settled in at the bar with some cocktails. Much to my surprise, Drink does not have a drink menu. The changeable letter board is the closest thing to it.
Astrological signs that tell you what drink to order?! This excited me. Alas, the true concept here is to tell the bartender what you like or are in the mood for and they will craft you a cocktail. I started with the facts: I like vodka. She pretty much read my mind from there. This is one of those scenarios where I believe it is essential to have an open mind and trust the bartender will take good care of you. While I was prepared a Moscow Mule with muddled lime and ginger beer, she explained this was the first vodka drink ever invented. The combination was new and enticing to me - three ingredients I love, but have never had all together. 
This cocktail tasted just like she read my mind. Lately, I've been putting my feelers out there for a drink that isn't too sweet. The dirty martini always works, but that stands in a caliber all it's own. This is it. 
As our reservation time approached we made our way upstairs to Sportello, which is the Italian word for 'counter service. Here we were greeted by retro globe light fixtures that hung evenly over a shiny white lacquered counter top zig-zagging throughout a clean stylish space.

We were lead to the back corner of the room and seated at a long common table in front of the contemporary floor to ceiling windows and right next to the bustling open kitchen. First, we decided on a bottle of the featured restaurant week red - Perrini Negroamaro ($32) from Puglia, Italy.
From Southern Italy or "the boot" this organic red wine is full of deep berry and ripe plums flavors balanced with a hint of limestone. 
Fresh baked bread was served with a creamy ricotta cheese and olive oil laced spread, topped with syrupy soaked apricots.
I had three slices. Good thing I didn't hold back on the bread basket, because the courses themselves are quite small. For my appetizer I chose the Smoked Salmon.
The salmon was beautifully prepared, its smokiness balanced by the bright, clean flavors of the creme fraiche and celery root. This was a refreshing first course that I appreciated didn't leave me feeling heavy as I awaited my entree.
The boys both had the Baby Mixed Greens with mustard vinaigrette, walnut creme and rye croutons.
In fact, the boys had the same of every course. There are only two options for each so the decisions are fairly easy ones to make. I figured I could not go wrong with the Pork Belly with a fennel and parsnip salad and salsa verde. Again, the entree portions are modest in size, however bold in flavor. This delicate slice was perfectly executed . The subtly sweet fennel and parsnips along with the fresh salsa verde emulsion were nice compliments to the rich savory pork.
Gretchen loved her pasta dish of Raffetta with roasted eggplant, pancetta and a goat cheese fondu.
Adam and Derek seemed to enjoy their Crispy Duck Leg as well, served with polenta cake, beet greens and duck jus. With clean flavors and delectably tender duck, again this was a success taste wise but I couldn't help but wonder if they were still hungry!
We were offered coffee before dessert was served, I chose an espresso.
The dessert course - in typical fashion was the Cookie Plate for the guys,
and the Chocolate Walnut Torta with salted caramel for the girls.
While it did not blow me away, this was still delicious and I ate every last bite. I am not a huge fan of walnuts so perhaps that swayed my affections.
Another highlight of the evening was being able to observe the happenings in the kitchen.
Sportello embodies the characteristics of a classic Italian trattoria with a modern twist; its energetic atmosphere, less formal counter style dining and a modest presentation of superb food make for a unique and fun occasion.
Barbara Lynch was no where in site, but her creative vision seems to resonate in every aspect of the experience.
I've gotten my Sportello dinner fix - but I have big plans to return and sit at the counter top for lunch. And I definitely need more of Drinks cocktails and psychic mixologists in my life ASAP.
Sportello on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

Lizzy said...

A-MAZING entry. You are such a good writer, seriously. I want to go to Drink and Sportello like now. Mmmmmm

Jenny said...

Barbara teaches cooking classes at her restaurant Stir - lets take one!!

Gretchen said...

This was such a great night - and a great post to match! Thanks for inviting us to double!

Travel Eat Love said...

Ah yes, I have had many great nights at Drink! :)

Daisy said...

Lizzy - Thank You! You should go after work someday!
Jenny - G & D took her classes and loved them. We should definitley do this.
G - more double dates soooon
AND Meghan - we should have Drinks at Drink sometime together!!