When I was a little kid, my mom used to take me to a drug store for breakfast. Now don’t get the wrong idea, I wasn’t perusing the candy isle in search of M&Ms for my calories, rather, this store located in a shopping center on City Ave in Bala Cynwyd, PA had an old-style breakfast counter. I used to pony up to the counter and order my eggs and buttered toast so I could make a sandwich. Some days, I’d get to splurge for a grilled sticky bun. My mom would often read a newspaper and I’d watch the rest of the patrons, often regulars from week to week do their breakfast routine. The one-man kitchen was open and I could watch everything that went on from eggs to hash browns. I didn’t realize it then, but that ‘open kitchen’ was the wave of the future.
Fast forward to this past Thursday and I’m making a return visit to Sportello in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston. I was in the area for a business trip and Fort Point is just 10 minutes from the airport. I called when we landed to find that they could accommodate us that evening. When we walked in, Jack (the manager?) introduced himself to all in our party and led us to a corner space at the counter. This was a friendly start to the evening which our server continued. We really felt welcome and part of the neighborhood.
Barbara Lynch’s concept of Sportello is outstanding – it’s comfort based on the space which sets your expectation for the food. Now, the food. I started with the porchetta tonnato, which is served a multitude of ways, but in this case, it was 2 bacon shaped pieces of pork belly with chunks of fresh tuna and accompanied by a bruschetta with a pesto gremolata. The combination of the rich pork belly, tuna, and capers was a nice mix and a different take on the traditional tonnato, but not entirely substantive. The gremolata was flavorful, if a bit salty, but enjoyable nonetheless. I really appreciated the flavor combinations of this dish.
For my entree, I devoured the buckwheat pappardelle which included braised lamb, golden raisins, and pine nuts. The salty-sweet combination with the raisins and the jus of the lamb was heavenly and offset the hearty-ness of the pasta. I couldn’t help myself with dessert and had their homemade vanilla ice cream which was rich and smooth and definitely proved to be the right decision. It reminded me of having that sticky bun as a kid – - I didn’t really have room, but loved every last bite. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other BLG restaurants, but it’s hard to resist another return visit to Sportello.