A Modern Take on Italian
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 23:03
Sportello, a newer Italian restaurant in Boston, is one of the best eats in the city. From its honey-golden raisin butter to the coconut cream cheese layer cake, every spoonful is thoughtfully crafted to excite your taste buds. This Barbara Lynch creation resides in Fort Point, otherwise called the Waterfront, above a small lounge and bar, Drink. While Sportello might only feature wine and beer as its two main alcoholic drinks, you are free to head downstairs before or after dinner to relax and enjoy a fruity cocktail. So whether you’d like to treat your parents to a delicious bite of pasta or have some fun with your girlfriends out on the town, Sportello is an excellent option.
Walking into the casual dining room, you’ll notice two particular characteristics: both the kitchen and bakery are located right next to the tables. With only a mini-glass wall to contain the kitchen space, you are privy to watching the chefs cook, fry, boil, clean, chop, cut, baste, and flambe. If you’re worried it might be too loud, don’t fret—they are very quiet and considerate of those diners who prefer a more serious and romantic setting. On the other side of the dining space lies a bakery. Fresh with goodies, your eyes won’t resist a few peeks at what’s to come after the main course. Sportello does offer a dessert menu, but they are happy to sell you any dessert you spy in the bakery portion of their restaurant.
Whether you’ve decided to come for lunch or dinner, their food is well-cooked, perfectly seasoned, and full of surprise. Beginning with their bread and intricate butter creation, one will be pleased immediately. It would be a good choice to order the equinox farms mesclun salad as an appetizer. The dish was bright with apples, yet rich with cheese and hazelnuts at the same time. Other delightful options include the beet salad and spicy tomato soup. Sportello also offers an excellent range of main courses. While their protein-centered entrees are well executed and thoughtfully balanced, the cheaper pasta and polenta dishes may be preferable. Sportello is known for their Bolognese sauce, which was fabulous, but one looking for a different taste should try their sweet potato agnolotti. The savory sweet potato with a sage and brown butter sauce was mouth watering and is highly recommended. One may also venture to try the anson mills polenta with porcini, the Italian name for mushrooms. The bowl was rich, dense, creamy, and smooth—just how polenta should be. If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, however, you would do best to steer clear of the polenta and try the lobster spaghetti or orecchiette.
Off of Sportello’s dessert menu, the chocolate fudge torta was tasty, but not overly exciting. Instead of ordering the reverse ice cream sandwich that many diners seemed to try, one may want to try the coconut cream cheese layer cake and a slice of apple pie at their bakery.
For all this wonderful food, one would expect this eatery to be expensive, but it is fairly well-priced. Appetizers range from $10-15, pastas from $20-25, and desserts from $4-8. If you decided to go for the whole three courses yourself in a group, you would be spending about $40 a person. Yes, that’s much more than a Boloco burrito or Eagle’s Deli burger, but for a sophisticated meal, it’s a fair price. If one is looking to stick to a budget, here are some recommendations: skip the appetizer and stick to the free bread and butter—it’s a meal of it’s own. Go for a heavier pasta dish and take the leftovers home for lunch the next day, and split a dessert with a friend. You’d be spending about $25, and that’s pretty good for a Barbara Lynch dinner. Sportello is also unofficially participating in Restaurant Week, providing a great opportunity to save even more money.
Overall, great find, great people, great food. For a few last words of advice: don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for advice on the menu and wine selection, enjoy the free meter parking after 6 p.m., and look at the bakery selection before deciding on dessert!