Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sangiovese

The View

Every so often I let hubby convince me to try Italian again.  This time it was because he had a fairly late meeting and so we wanted to go somewhere close to home because I knew I would be hungry by the time we got to dinner.  So we decided to return to Sangiovese which is very near our house.  We went once before, right after we moved here, and while we didn’t hate it, weren’t overly impressed with certain things (the mussels) and just never seemed to get around to going back.  So it had been about five years.  Sangiovese always has coupons in some of the local books, so we also finally decided to use one of them as well (and I see they are also going to be part of the “Northside Nights” restaurant week which starts this week). (P.S. there is also a "Savor the Southside" event going on at the same time on the southside.)
The other reason I let myself be convinced to give Sangiovese another try is because they have a very nice deck overlooking the river in the rear of the building.  It is one of those random strip mall restaurants that are very deceiving looking from the outside (particularly right now with a ton of construction going on there).  But the deck is lovely and actually I really like the warmth of the interior of the restaurant as well.
So we got a nice table out there with on a night when it was breezy enough that it was actually cool out there (shocking!) but still not as cold as it was inside the restaurant. Anyway, the menu was quite different from the last time we were there and we were disappointed to see the Carpaccio that used to be on the menu no longer there (although it is still on the online menu).  There was an interesting sounding calamari appetizer though—it was described as a calamari steak stacked on field greens and tomatoes with a garlic, caper, caramelized onion, and Pinot Grigio sauce ($8).  Sounds good huh?  Well unfortunately, the waiter told us it wasn’t actually being served as a steak but as rings and tentacles.  But at least it wasn’t deep fried, so we went with it anyway.  Turns out it was just rings, and they were only okay.  They were borderline chewy as calamari rings can so often be.  I really liked the sauce though—especially the caramelized onions with the sauce. I would have liked a bit more of the greens (I think there were probably only 6-8 leaves there) and the tomatoes were a disappointment (which is bad when it is August in Indiana).  The sauce was spicy with the garlic and the capers and it was a shame it didn’t all come together.
When trying to decide whether to order one of the several specials, I asked the server about the mushroom ravioli special which sounded intriguing.  I point blank asked if the ravioli was made in house and he said no.  I appreciated his honesty, but I thought that the fact that they are using frozen food service ravioli just demonstrates the problem with most Italian food in Indy.  Seriously, if someone made some from scratch, people would be blown away. And come on, it isn’t that hard. Anyway, I went with the penne alla Medici ($15) which was penne pasta with an olive oil based sauce, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers, crushed red pepper and marinated chicken breast slices based on our server’s recommendation.  You know, it tasted pretty good, because I like all those things a lot, but when you really thought about it, it would be insanely easy to make at home since most of the ingredients were jarred.  The chicken, which I am sure they cooked there, was the most disappointing part of the dish because it was dry.
Hubby ordered one of the day’s specials which was the Osso Bucco ($28) and came highly recommended as well.  And hubby loves a good Osso Bucco.  Sadly for hubby, this was not a good one.  While the meat was slow cooked and fairly tender, it had very little flavor to it.  It was interesting because it was served with a side of risotto that looked bad because it was all white and looked like it didn’t have any flavor, but in fact, it was pretty tasty and perfectly cooked.  They must have used some nice wine and stock to make it because it was delicious.
Finally we tried one of the two housemade desserts (several were not and again, it was nice that the server was on top of this issue and answered me honestly)—the tiramisu ($7).  It was quite light and had all the flavors you want in a tiramisu. You could taste the coffee, but not too much and the mascarpone.  And it had just a touch of chocolate. I would have preferred the chocolate to be powdered though, as the syrup they were using tasted suspiciously like the kind my kids make their chocolate milk with at home.
So sadly, while the service was good, and the view lovely, the food just reminded me why I rarely eat Italian food out in this City.  It just isn’t that good.  It just seems like people are lazy when it comes to making Italian food in restaurants.  Hardly anyone makes their own pasta and corners seem to be cut a little too often for my taste.  The restaurant did have a fair amount of people in it which was impressive given it was mid-week and the construction made it quite difficult to even see the restaurant is there (not to mention the fact that several of the entrances to the strip mall were closed the day we went).
But I continue to search….

P.S. Let me know if you plan on taking advantage of the north and south side restaurant weeks and how your meals are.
Sangiovese Ristorante
4110 East 82nd Street
Indy 46240
317/596-0731

The Deck


Sangiovese Ristorante on Urbanspoon

8 comments:

  1. Joe in Montgomery OHSeptember 6, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    We're both "gluttons for punishment" as this is "flyover" territory regarding contemporary Italian cuisine. Cincinnati's getting better, but we're still not on either coast. Momma Mia!

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  2. Maybe I missed something when I ate on the deck, but I thought it was as bad as the food. We were sat by old, beaten up tables and chairs that had been cast aside and had weeds growing around them and the awnings were ripped. Have they made improvements?

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  3. Best Italian food I've had in recent past was at Villaggio in Zionsville. Huge portions, hyper-fresh ingredients (especially the seafood) and really tasty preparations. Highly recommend!

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  4. Jessica in NoblesvilleSeptember 9, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Erin, not sure where to place this post ... but tonight hubby and I took advantage of the Northside Nights deal at Peterson's. For $30 I had lobster bisque, seared scallops with angel hair pasta and a roasted red pepper sauce, and dessert of raspberry lemon parfait. I enjoyed every bit of it, the sizes were small but not tiny, just enough to fill up and still have room to share an appetizer of crab-stuffed shrimp with the man. Great deal, and plan to do Pizzology's menu next.

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  5. Russ, I enjoyed the deck, but they had tablecloths and hanging baskets. Maybe they fixed it up a bit since you were there.

    Amy, a couple people have recommended Villagio. Will have to check it out.

    Jessica, thanks for the info. Peterson's is probably a great place for that--the portions normally are a little too big for me, so that is a nice was to probably get more reasonably sized items. And your meal sounds great. thanks for sharing. And please let us know how Pizzology's deal is too.

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  6. I LOVE that you post photos of the back of Sangiovese..it's a hidden jewel in the Castleton area and so inconspicuous considering what the front of the property looks like!!

    Andrea Vadas
    Realtor
    Search the MLS for homes!

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  7. Janie, Carmel IN
    Amalfi (86th and Ditch area) is our favorite for Italian, but it is very pricy and somewhat dressy. Sister restaurants are Capri on Keystone and Matteo's in Noblesville. All are very good. J. Razzo's just opened in Carmel to very good reviews.

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  8. We ate there last night and now realize why they were the only restaurant on 86th with a reservation on the Saturday night before valentines day....food lacked the interest that the price provided. There was live piano and atmosphere was nice although all the pictures were off the wall leaving only nails everywhere which I thought was tacky especially on such an important restaurant weekend....my husband had the veal shanks as well and agree with your review. We are definitely not going back. I think Maggianos, although a big chain has better food than thos

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Thanks, Erin