How lucky are folks on the west side of Fort Wayne? Sam and Angelino Leto, the same family that opened Salvatori's in a little spot east of New Haven, have expanded their business to the Illinois/Scott roads area.
Also named Salvatori's, the new restaurant is even better than the one in New Haven, which is small and a little lacking in atmosphere.
The new Salvatori's, where Aboite Grill used to be, still has the high ceilings and faux windows of its predecessors. A pergola with artificial greenery and white lights delineates part of the dining area. Large stained glass panels hide something — maybe a prep station?
Salvatori's is named after Sam Leto's late father, Salvatori. The Leto family opened the first Italian restaurant in Fort Wayne, Leto's Pizza, in the mid-'60s. Salvatori Leto worked there as a teen and learned the family recipes, which were passed down to his son, who now uses them at his two restaurants.
The new Salvatori's offers some interesting appetizers, baked and tossed pasta dishes, calzones, rolls, sandwiches and salads, plus full bar service.
My lunch companion arrived before I did, and ordered what he “thought” was a non-alcoholic drink. That strawberry basil martini most certainly was alcoholic. (I had to take a few sips.) With Grey Goose vodka, Tanqueray gin, lime juice and strawberries, this boozy concoction topped with fresh basil was aromatic and smooth. I wasn't sure I liked the flavor of the basil in the drink, but it didn't stop us (mostly him) from drinking it.
We chose fresh vegetable crostini for an appetizer, and what a treat it was. Four slender slices of toasted ciabatta bread were topped with finely chopped vegetables — tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, green and black olives, carrots, cabbage, and red, green and banana peppers, all marinated in an Italian dressing, and then topped with a bit of mozzarella. I loved the crunch of the vegetables, the mild marinade and the toasted bread.
I picked spinach-filled ravioli for my entrée, a half order, which was plenty. I still had leftovers to take home. I didn't closely read the description, but did see the word “marinara,” so thought it would be in a red sauce. I was surprised to be served a dish in a white sauce, with just a touch of marinara.
Sometimes Italian white sauces are too rich for my palate, but this creamy balsamelia sauce, basically a milk, butter, flour and salt concoction (think béchamel) was very much to my liking. The ravioli was filled with a four-cheese mixture and chopped spinach, and the entrée was topped with a bit of asiago cheese. Very mild and delicate.
Our excellent server noted that the dish is baked right on the plate in the oven, so the ravioli stuck a bit to the plate, but it wasn't a problem.
My companion selected Basilicata: peppers, onions, Italian sausage and rigatoni tossed in a mildly spicy marinara sauce. It was a bit spicy, and the sliced sausage links were bursting with flavor. A good choice for him; I liked my mild, meatless dish better. He, too, had plenty of leftovers.
We couldn't leave without trying the cannoli for dessert. We split one, and it was just enough to enjoy without overeating and feeling guilty. Very creamy with a hint of cocoa, sprinkled with colored sugar which gave it a little texture. The perfect ending to a very good meal.
Every other Tuesday, Cindy Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/section/LARSON.