Well, my flight from London back to Boston arrived at 6pm, so we decided this would be a good opportunity for Carol to pick me up at the airport, and go get something interesting for dinner. A few months before, Carol had found herself with some time to kill at the airport, and their group went over to South Station and walked over into South Boston to Sportello, a little Italian place. They rather enjoyed the trip, so I figured I’d go there as well to check it out.
Sportello is a rather funky place. The main concept here is “modern interpretation of the classic diner”, and that describes the decor rather well: walking into Sportello, you immediate see two large U-shaped counters surrounded by stools, of the type that described most diners when I was little. The overall palette is “gleaming white”, and like an actual diner, the bulk of the food prep is done to-order, right in front of you.
As far as the food goes, the same sort of minimalist approach of the decor is applied to the menu: it’s not a very large menu, instead focusing on a small number of classic Italian appetizers, pasta and polenta dishes, along with a reasonable affordable wine list.
We started off the dinner with an heirloom tomato salad. A lightly-dressed salad with at least four different types of tomatoes, this was a nice, seasonal starter for our meal, albeit a simple one. I’m always happy when a seasonal salad like this is dressed such that the ingredients aren’t hidden by an overwhelming dressing, and they delivered.
For the main course, Carol opted for the potato gnocchi with mushroom ragu, peas, and cream. This was a very well executed dish: the gnocchi had the perfect texture (right on the border between “creamy” and “toothy”), and the cream sauce and mushroom ragu gave it a really good creamy and earthy note. The peas blended in as well. These were some of the better gnocchi I’ve sampled in recent history, although I still need to give a nod to Gracie’s down in Providence. But don’t get me wrong, these were definitely top 10 list material.
Myself, I opted for the wild boar ragu over polenta. First: the polenta: this was one of the best polentas I’ve ever had: creamy and smooth, with just enough texture left to still keep it thick. The wild boar ragu served on top of it was rich, porky, and flavorful, and blended perfectly with the polenta and the thick slices of parmesan served atop the dish.
Dessert was also a pleasant treat: I opted for the “cookie platter” (five very nicely done cookies, all of which pleased me), while Carol went old school New England with some brown bread served up with pears and walnuts. Both were quite pleasing, both in presentation and taste.
Overall, we rather enjoyed Sportello. The food was excellent (particularly my polenta) and fresh, the ambiance unique, and the staff pleasant. We’ll definitely come back, since there are all sorts of menu items that were tempting me.