A Brick Oven Beauty

Dinner entrees range from filet mignon sauteed with liver pate and a red wine sauce ($19) to sauteed turkey breast with prosciutto, mushrooms, and green peas ($13.95) to scaloppine of veal ($15.50) in white wine, prosciutto, and sage. Seafood choices also entice: broiled lobster salad ($18), a grilled jumbo scampi made with more than ten herbs and spices ($18), and a familiar trio of baked salmon ($16.50), sauteed red snapper ($16.50), and grilled grouper ($15.50). Plates are generous with sides -- mine was served with a finely scalloped potato and ratatouille of eggplant and Italian squash.

And though I doubt many families will frequent La Sacrestia because of the price ticket, the pizzas are true trattoria fare children will love: thin, thin crust, tomato and mozzarella. Gorgonzola and fontina, the gourmet pizza twins, are not invited here. Neither are chipolline onions, yellow tomatoes, eggplant, pignolia nuts, roasted garlic, nor any of the other more exotic "toppings." Only traditional pizza-making methods are used, and traditional ingredients -- sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Authenticity is so important to DeFilippo and D'Annunzio they relocated three of their chefs from the Rome restaurant.

Service was -- for once -- fabulous. Our chatty waitress talked me into "grandmother's cake" ($5) for dessert, a pine nut torte so rich I could manage only a few bites. She knew the menu well enough after just a month to point out which pastas were egg-free and which entrees were made without cream, questions that usually necessitate a trip to the kitchen. She steered me toward the swordfish when I vacillated between it and the red snapper. I would trust her judgment again. She's already welcomed us back.

LA SACRESTIA 21 Almeria Avenue, Coral Gables, 442-9700. Open for lunch Monday -- Friday from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. Open for dinner nightly from 6:00 until 11:30 p.m.

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