If you're looking for delicious Italian food in a hip and off-the-beaten-path location, Sportello is your place. It's not too far outside of Downtown Boston in the Fort Point vicinity. You may think it's more of a deli or diner when you first walk in and see the white counters, counter stools, open kitchen, and large round balls of light dangling from the ceiling. But that's what makes this casually sleek restaurant so fun and appealing.
The artichoke appetizer ($9) was two halves of a roasted artichoke served with a deliciously salty anchovy aioli, breadcrumbs, and lemon. We managed to split it nicely among three adults. It went well with the complimentary bread that was served with a mixture of whipped ricotta cheese, olive oil, and a berry jam type of spread.
The spicy tomato soup ($10) was served with a savory caraway grilled cheese accompaniment. It was the perfect consistency and full of wonderful flavors.
There were four of us in our party that evening and each ordered a different pasta dish. The potato gnocchi ($20) are normally served with porcini mushrooms and peas in a cream sauce, however since I am allergic to them I asked for the peas to be omitted. The waitress was extremely considerate of my food allergies and the dish was superb. The gnocchi were so light and the mushrooms were cooked perfectly. The cream sauce that it is served in had a slight hint of wine, and was simply divine. I think I could eat this everyday - it was that good.
The bigoli ($20) dish is made with peas, haricot verts, and garlic with a mint pesto sauce. It is then topped with whipped ricotta. Lots of fresh flavors are incorporated into this dish.
The mustard leaf agnolotti ($21) is served with lamb that is so tender that it can barely withstand itself on fork tines. It is served with fresh fava beans and rapini. The agnolotti were cooked perfectly al dente.
The papardelle ($22) is served in a nice, rich bolognese sauce and topped with fried basil. It, too, is one of those dishes where you know you shouldn't eat the entire bowl full but it's too good to not enjoy in one sitting.
We were quite full from the appetizers, a shared bottle of wine, and our entrees so we skipped dessert. Dessert options include gelato, semi-freddo, and chocolate rice pudding as well as the ability to pick pastry items from their bakery counter (which can be added to your dining tab).
Sportello also offers breakfast and lunch daily (closed on Sunday), as well as Italian-inspired breads and sweet and savory pastries which are baked fresh daily at their bakery counter.
Be sure to stop by Drink, Sportello's sister bar, which is located right beneath the restaurant for a one-of-a-kind experience. Ask for a "DLB" if you like a gimlet - it's been described as a "gimlet on acid". Awesome. More on Drink in the near future. Stay tuned.