SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -- There is a spot downtown Sarasota reminiscent of the Italian villas back in the country I so love.
While some people think the terra-cotta building on Lemon Avenue is part of another restaurant named Mattison's, the actual space is Salute - and it has graced downtown for more than six years.
Owner-Chef Laszlo Bevardi and his partner opened Salute in 2010 after studying and cooking in eastern Europe and opening a restaurant in the northeast. Salute offers Italian cuisine with its own vineyards wines and olive oils to Sarasota's downtown with a similar flare of those trattorias on almost every corner of bustling Florence or Rome.
Salute has a clear hospitality plan: To serve abundant food with room for private parties and to provide plenty of outdoor tables for watching the world go by.
The fresh Branzino I had was moist and prepared delicately, sending a clear note that the chef here is skilled with roasting whole fish. Pastas are mostly homemade and quite decadent. A grand porterhouse steak, aka “Steak Florentine,” was sliced table side and served at a perfect medium rare. It was another entrée perfect for a group of women gathered inside from the rain, sharing stories and wine while enjoying the restaurant's cooking.
Other notable dishes include the four cheese soufflé with roasted pear and fresh porcinis and the antipasto board - a perfect starter for sharing, abundant with imported cured meats, olives, cheeses and bread.
Desserts were the only misstep. The tiramisu was dry during this visit and we found another dessert to be uneventful.
But overall, Salute is a nice choice for dining Italian style downtown, especially for large groups, whether in the wine room, the large dining room, or outside on the patio.
Special thanks for a surprise tablescape and flowers by Just a Basket Case, which offers custom party planning at Salute. They have their own basket store in Gulf Gate.
23 N. Lemon Ave. Sarasota, Fl. 34236