Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ristorante Sapori (4 Forks, $40 pp)

Italian restaurants are in nearly every plaza in South Florida, but finding a gem like Sapori is rare. Sapori is simply stellar. This is real food prepared fresh to order. One glance and the menu and you can see this isn't your average restaurant.

We were excited by the regular menu, but the Turbo special of the night sounded just right. A simple preparation was recommended because the fish was so delicious and fresh.  When we saw the fish up close, we knew we made the right choice. That's right. The waiter actually brought the raw fish to the table for us to see! What a beauty! It looks a lot like flounder, with both eyes on top a plate-like body.


Swordfish, Branzino, Salmon, and Mixed Shellfish in Broth were on special that night as well. The Turbo, at $40 a plate, was a bit beyond my normal budget, but I decided it wasn't the night to be worried about money.

After ordering we settled in and attacked the bread basket.  The accompanying basil butter and roasted garlic butter were flavorful, unique, and addictive.

Basil & Roasted Garlic Butters

The fish arrived shortly and didn't disappoint. A slight squeeze of the lemon was all the Turbo needed. Simple and delicious. The side of grilled zucchini, squash, and potatoes was also a revelation. I wondered how the veggies had so much flavor but seemed so basic.

The next time I go to Sapori, I will bring a bit more money and sample the Appetizer and Pasta menus. One thing I would have liked to eat was a Sapori sampler plate with a variety of vegetables of the night. The selection is displayed on a table in the center of the small dining area. Broccoli rabe, Tomato Mozzarella Caprese Salad, Roasted Peppers, and Artichokes were all within view along with a few other plates I didn't recognize.

The pasta dishes run around $20 a plate and include several intriguing options. I have a weakness for a good Linguine con Vongole (linguine with clams) and I have a feeling I wouldn't be disappointed here. Rigatoni Alla Sapori also sounds tasty, with prosciutto, onion, mascarpone, and basil in a tomato sauce. And the Spaghettini Alla Puttanesca must be special because the menu states "... when i die i would like someone to give a eulogy about this dish, for the story and the flavor". 

The menu also has a variety of veal and chicken dishes. The Chicken Breast Medallions with artichoke and lemon or Milanese with arugola are each $23. Two Veal Scallopine dishes and three Veal Chops, including one with bacon, herbs, mushrooms, and onion, range from $32 to $42 per plate. One signature dish that sounds particularly worthy of attention is the Coccio, a baked seafood and shellfish casserole in a thin garlicky tomato gauzetto broth offered for $34.

Whether you prefer pasta, meat, or excellent fresh fish, for a special Italian meal try Sapori.

Sapori is located at 301 Via De Palmas in Boca Raton and is open for lunch and dinner.

Ristorante Sapori on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Las Totoritas (4 Forks, $12 pp)

Although I live only an hour north, I rarely get down to Miami.  After a recent visit, I am kicking myself for not visiting more often. One of the highlights of the day was dinner at a tiny Peruvian restaurant called Las Totoritas, at 7367 NW 36th Street. I didn't expect much when we arrived. Las Totoritas is one of three Peruvians restaurants in a small downtrodden strip mall.  Once inside, though, I started to get excited.

Las Totoritas is a tiny place, but brighter and cleaner than the typical hole in the wall. Some effort was made here, and although not extravagant, the mood is inviting and pleasant.  Perhaps a dozen tables line a wall with a couple more in the front.

When we arrived, only a few tables were taken. Our server immediately stepped over, passed around menus, and took our drink requests. Coming from Peru herself, she was very knowledgeable about the menu. She was very accomodating to our questions about preparations and ingredients.

I've never eaten Peruvian food, so the menu was really intriguing. A whole page was devoted to various types of ceviche, called Cebiche.  We selected the special of the night, Cebiche de Pescado y Camarón made with shrimp and fish. The seafood had been marinated in a delicious combination of lemon, salt, garlic, spicy peruvian peppers, cilantro, and red onion.  The fish was a mild white fish called Basa. The sweet potatoes on the side provided just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the sour spice of the dish. 

In the foreground of the picture is fried and boiled choclo.  Choclo is a large kernelled type of corn that is much more starchy than typical american corn. The platter was family sized and could easily have fed three or four hungry adults.  Somehow, we polished it off between the two of us.

We also couldn't resist having a side order of Yuca Frita con Salsa Huancaína. The fried yuca is crispy and a bit chewy.  Salsa Huancaína is a light cheese sauce.  The combination was a nice contrast to our main course. The Peruvian beer called Cusquena was refreshing and went well with our order.

Having stuffed ourselves, we were unable to sample the Peruvian ice cream and sweets displayed at the counter. I have no regrets. This is a place I can't wait to get to again.  Thank you Las Totoritas for a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine!

Totoritas on Urbanspoon

Tilapia Veracruz Recipe

Baked Tilapia Veracruz Recipe
3-4 fillets of Tilapia about 3/4" thick
16 medium Shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/2 Onion, diced
1/4 large Green Pepper, finely diced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
Black Pepper & Salt, to taste
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons of Italian Parsley
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon

In skillet over medium heat, saute onion for a couple minutes. Add green pepper and cook until onion starts to become clear. Add garlic. When you can smell the garlic, before it browns, add the tomato paste and cook a minute or so, stirring constantly, then add chicken stock, tomato sauce, capers, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer and reduce a bit until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add parsley and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Pour a bit of the sauce into a  8"x11.5"x2" baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom, saving the rest.  Place tilapia in a single layer, side by side into the dish. Add raw shrimp to the remaining sauce and pour over the tilapia. (The shrimp will cook along with the tilapia.)  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until done (if fresh tilapia, approx 15 minutes, if frozen about 30 minutes).

Serve with steamed white rice. Salad and yuca toasted garlic and lime to round out the meal. Enjoy!