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Fresh dish and discoveries.   By Judi Gallagher   Although we usually avoid St. Armand’s Circle during the height of season, a recent rainy Friday and an almost expired gift certificate lead us over to 15 South (15 S. Blvd.of the Presidents, 941-388-1555).   The atmosphere is inviting—a quaint Italian eatery and wine bar with […]

February 6, 2007


Fresh dish and discoveries.
 
By Judi Gallagher
 
Although we usually avoid St. Armand’s Circle during the height of season, a recent rainy Friday and an almost expired gift certificate lead us over to 15 South (15 S. Blvd.of the Presidents, 941-388-1555).
 
The atmosphere is inviting—a quaint Italian eatery and wine bar with the pizza oven within sight, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better smoked salmon pizza. The carpaccio with baby arugula and Parmesan is also delightful, but some of the entrées fall a bit short. We ordered the evening’s special of osso bucco, or braised veal shank. When cooked properly, osso bucco will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. Although flavorful, the veal should have been more tender, and the risotto primavera disappointed us with a lack of creaminess. In addition, chopped green peppers overpowered what should have been a delicate proportion of arborio rice, butter and Parmesan and Romano cheese.


The real deal Ilia with some of his Mediterranean specialties.
 
The pan-seared snapper, another nightly special, was fresh and cooked perfectly, served on a bed of fresh sautéed spinach and sun-dried tomatoes; but it cried for more underlying sauce and a pairing better than mashed potatoes and limp vegetables. A better bet are the mussels Fra Diablo, with just enough zest to grab the soup spoon to catch every drop of the broth. Clearly, the appetizers are the best bet here, but entrées were pricy ($28.95 and $30.95 without a salad) and seemed to miss a beat, just like the guest that grabbed the mike at the piano bar—we weren’t quite in the mood for Star Search with our dinner.
 
A good bet just across the street is Le Colonne Ristorante (22 S. Boulevard of the Presidents, 941-388-4348). Their veal chop never disappoints, and their homemade mushroom raviolis are worth driving around the circle three times in search of a parking space.
 
Another great bet: Ilia’s Mediterranean Grill at Park Isle Plaza in Nokomis. (625 N. Tamiami Trail, 941- 480-0095).
 
 Ilia has a master’s degree from Greece in yogurt making, and I can’t go more than a few weeks without driving south on U.S. 41 to get a fix of the pork gyro. I disagree with a colleague who criticized the gyro for not being filled with an Americanized ground, molded meat on a thermal stick—this is an authentic preparation, filled with crisp pork and tzatziki sauce. The moussaka, another traditional Greek dish is both rich and creamy and light.
 
Their irresistible rice pudding is often laced with lavender water, and the baklava is made with homemade phyllo, imported cinnamon and just the right amount of honey.
 
Please comment below or email me at judig@sarasotamgazine.com about some of your new discoveries in Sarasota dining.








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