It’s a Friday night and we’re getting together for dinner in downtown Sarasota with our dear friends Kat and Bill. But it’s not any Friday night — it’s the night of the big street party celebrating Nik Wallenda’s tight rope walk over Niagara Falls, and we’re all looking forward to a good meal and the street party afterwards. So Mart and I were happy when Kat suggested Mediterraneo, located on the east end of Main Street, which would be far enough from the action to avoid the crowds while we’re having dinner, but close enough to scoot over to Mattison’s when we’re done. Perfectamente!
Mediterraneo never fails to please. We’ve been here a number of times for dinner before a movie across the street at Hollywood 20. And, being that it’s been a Main Street mainstay since 1996, you know they are a true A-Lister. They have a great pizza oven at the bar, and I can’t tell you how many times we thought we’d “just have a glass of wine before a movie” but ended up ordering one of their Tartuffata Focacce, a flat bread pizza with Prosciutto, Parmesan and truffle oil, (my all time weakness). But tonight we came with the goal of trying something different.
The menu offers so many great choices it’s not surprising that we each were attracted to a different appetizer that was, well, most appetizing to us individually! While the starters were being prepared, we enjoyed the complimentary bruschetta, warm crunchy bread and eggplant based dipping sauce. Kat started with the ever popular Parma prosciutto with huge slices of fresh, luscious melon slices that caught not only our attention, but also those at neighboring tables. Her husband Bill ordered the Caprese salad with chunks of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and juicy, deep red tomatoes that could have been picked from the garden only moments before. Obviously we all shared with each other.
I ordered the carpaccio di manzo con rucola e parmigiano (paper thin slices of raw beef topped with a peppery arugola and sliced Parmesan). While I trust carpaccio in the hands of an accomplished chef, it’s something I’d never try at home, so it’s always a treat when I order some. You can enjoy it with olive oil drizzled on it, but I just went with squeezed lemon. Yum!
Mart, being the biggest Foodie at the table, picked the star of our table’s appetizers. The Torretta di melanzane e pomodori arrosto con formaggio caprino (Tower of roasted eggplants with goat cheese in tomato sauce). One word for this starter? Showoff! This plate was one amazing bite after another, and Mart was kind enough to share a very small bite with each of us. There’s something to be said for the fact it was the only starter with melted cheese . . . But then again, it was highly recommended by our server Amy. She know the menu like the back of her hand, and is a real pro, for sure!
Now as far as a good meal goes, being totally satisfied at the end of the appetizer course is where a lot of
skinnier diners would stop there. But not us. We’re real Foodies, so the main course could not be missed. This time Bill and I both ordered the same dish, the piccata di salmone con capperi e limone (sauteed salmon scaloppine with lemon and capers sauce served with spinach). This was a smart move for both of us, as we could each offer our partners a taste, and not have to share with anyone else. And why should we?
Kat went with the fish special, a lovely fillet of branzino, which is known as European sea bass, served on a rich butter and garlic sauce with beans on the side. When Kat likes something she always has the same saying, “Oh my word!” and she was “Oh my wording” about the sauce throughout her meal.
Besides being a Foodie at the dinner table, Mart is a Foodie in the kitchen, and when he saw the Bucatini pasta with braised lamb, shiitake mushroom and Sardinian pecorino cheese, he had to try it. None of us had considered lamb with pasta before, so he was pleasantly surprised with the combination.
By the time we were done, all of us were “comfortably full”, with no desire for dessert – though we were tempted. As we walked down the street to be amazed watching local boy “Super” Nik Wallenda take command of Niagara Falls, Kat noted something we were all thinking, but hadn’t said aloud. When was the last time any of us had finished a big Italian meal without feeling uncomfortably stuffed? Obviously the expertly made food at Mediterraneo did that.
As Kat would, and did say, (often) “Oh My Word!”