(2007) Five Points is quickly becoming the epicenter of activity in downtown Sarasota. With The Grape drawing an evening crowd and Patrick’s the quintessential standby, the addition of a decidedly Italian trattoria makes the area even more appealing. Brought to you by the owners of Epicure, just a block further west on Main Street, Americano offers a more substantial dining experience. The atmosphere is more upscale, whether you dine comfortably outside under the loggia of the new high-rise or within the chic interior, a monochromatic mix of steel gray colors and textures punctuated with red.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as any trattoria worth its espresso should be, Americano puts an international twist on eggs and bacon. The bacon here is pancetta, and your fried eggs come with leeks and speck. Frittatas, the oven-baked omelets, sound divine: smoked salmon, potatoes and chives or bufala mozzarella, tomato and basil. And the starches include very American pancakes (buttermilk, blueberry or whole wheat for the health-conscious) or bagels and brioche.
Lunch fills up fast, and well it should. We devoured an appetizer of wild mushrooms nestled in a Parmesan basket. The succulent, earthy mushrooms are a perfect complement to the cheese basket’s salty richness. A bowl of stracciatella with chicken soup is the Italian version of comfort food. The broth was flavorful without the burden of too much fat, and the little pasta perfectly suited to the bits of chicken and vegetables.
It’s hard to pass on pasta here. Ricotta and spinach crespelle with radicchio and scamorza is difficult to describe, but delicious to consume. It’s a layered affair, the crespelle akin to crepes and reminiscent of lasagna without the heaviness of that dish. The roasted radicchio punctuated the dish with a bitter bite that was irresistible. A deceptively simple panini of prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato lured us back to the plate, even though we were absolutely gorged. The creamy mozzarella tastes so good with the exquisitely aged prosciutto that it overpowers all self-discipline.
There are a variety of sweets to sample, and we settled on a panna cotta. This is the hottest dessert going right now. Treviso, at the Ringling Museum, has a lovely version, although it might not match the exquisite smoothness of this blend of heavy cream flavored with unadulterated vanilla bean. Panna cotta usually has a bit of fruit with it, but in my opinion it’s just a cover-up to justify your divulging in the incredibly rich confection. (There was even a quasi panna cotta at the Ritz recently, served at one of those huge ballroom affairs. I say quasi because it looked like a panna cotta, but one bite revealed some telltale cream cheese. It was cheesecake in disguise.)
Prices are reasonable at Americano. Lunch items are in the $5-$9 range, and the rotisserie items that form a core of the offerings for dinner are in the lower double digits. There’s bar service, and the coffee and espresso are divine.
While we’ve always dined inside at Americano, I’m waiting for the perfect day or night to settle into a café table and watch the world—or at least Sarasota—go by.
1409 Main St., Sarasota
Monday–Sunday, 7:30 a.m. -10:30 p.m.
VISA, MC, AMEX
Parking on street; handicapped accessible