Friday, October 29, 2010

Ristorante Sapori

"If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor." Eleanor Roosevelt
I love Italian food and Prague has plenty of Italian restaurants.

Not long after I checked out the new Mirellie in Vinohrady, I stumbled upon the even newer Ristorante Sapori near Náměstí Míru.I heard it was started by someone connected to Giardino con Enoteca -- an Italian/Mediterranean place not far away where I'd had some great dinners. I gave Sapori a few weeks to hopefully get things running smoothly, then I went for dinner and a chat with V.

I quite liked the look of dining area.The high ceilings with gold crown moldings, cream-colored walls, hard wood flooring, and white-clothed tables with big comfy chairs gave it a warm, yet classy feel. V thought it was a similar but somewhat lesser version of Aromi.Our efficient waiter started us off with a crudité plate of carrots, celery, and black and green olives.We really liked the dip, which we were told was made from pureed olive, eggplant, mixed with mustard. It was smooth, light, and a little sweet -- a nice change from butter or olive oil.

We also got decent white and seeded Italian bread.There was a single 30 CZK charge for the bread and spread.

They were temporarily out of large bottles of sparkling water, so we ordered smaller bottles of Rajec (35 CZK).We got three of those in the end.

For her starter, V got one her favorites, the grilled octopus (195 CZK).In this version, the tentacles were sandwiched between slices of grilled eggplant and mozzarella. It all sat on a bed of beans.

The fresh octopus was good. It didn't taste grilled, but the small portion was very tender. It was missing the crispy exterior we both like. The cheese was excellent.

The eggplant was plain and dull. The beans were OK, but on the oily side. Overall, it didn't compare favorably to better versions we've had at Mirellie and Giardino.

My starter was the stuffed mushroom caps (190 CZK). This was rather grim.First, it is listed as a warm appetizer and mine came out room temperature.

It was filled with good wilted spinach. But that was topped with overcooked, hard, cold bacon. On top of that, there was a small sprinkling of melted Pecorino that had cooled to the consistency of plastic.

I mentioned the temperature issue to our waiter. He immediately went to speak to the kitchen about it, but there was no other response.

For a main course, I ordered my regular favorite, the risotto frutti di mare (240 CZK).It's something of a benchmark for me, since I have a lot of other versions to compare it to.

This one did not have tomato or tomato sauce mixed in, unlike most others in Prague. But it was drowning in olive oil. The fresh calamari were good. The small shrimp were too salty. The clams were tiny. The mussels were small, not the freshest, and some were sandy. A crayfish yielded a small amount of flesh. There are much better versions of this risotto out there.

V hadn't had scallops for a long time, so she ordered the mixed plate of scallops and calamari (340 CZK).There were several whole, small squid and three good-size scallops. One was slightly overcooked, and two were perfectly seared, maintaining their delicate texture.

But there was one big fault with this dish. All the seafood was covered with very garlicky spinach. Sadly, that strong flavor leeched into the scallops and calamari and overwhelmed it. The dish would have been very good if they'd only have kept the spinach separate.

Neither of us drank, which helped keep the bill for this meal to 1100 CZK before tip. We agreed we did not like very much about the dinner. We didn't feel like having dessert.

This restaurant is still quite new, and I hope they get their act together.It's a nice looking place, with good service when we were there.

But there are a lot of Italian restaurants in Prague, and a quite a few of them are not far away. That means the competition is going to be tough.

If they want to succeed, they are going to have to think harder about the quality of Sapori and what it should mean.

And one of the meanings of "sapori" is Italian is "flavor."

Ristorante Sapori
Americká 20
Prague 2 - Vinohrady
Tel: (+420) 222 523 533

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