A new review of an old favorite.
The Butcher's plate at Spagio. Photo by Michael A. Foley/Rycus Assoc.
Located on Grandview Avenue for more than two decades, Spagio is the creation of chef Hubert Seifert. He is one of the top chefs in town and immortalized in a painting at the restaurant of him attending to an animated party of happy diners.
The official description of the food is “European and Pacific Rim cuisine,” but that doesn’t capture the many deft, imaginative and appropriate choices it offers.
Unfortunately, during my visits, the execution of some dishes was not what one would have hoped.
Appetizers were mostly good. Roasted red beet Napoleon was constructed in layers of nicely roasted beets and whipped goat cheese, along with candied walnuts and arugula. It was mildly spicy and served cold. The Butcher’s Plate had an assortment of pâté and other good stuff; it was prettily laid out and tasty. Spagio’s antipasto offered a row of Caprese: good buffalo mozzarella slices alternating with tomatoes that were decent for early spring, along with marinated eggplant and spirals of prosciutto and salami. The good tarte flambé, from the wood-fired oven, resembled a thin-crust pizza topped with bacon, goat cheese and caramelized onion.
The nice citrus salad featured generous amounts of radicchio, arugula, fennel and orange slices topped with almonds and pecorino Romano, as well as a mild vinaigrette.
Choucroute garni included a smoked pork chop (the right choice) and a couple of small sausages with a big dab of mustard, but the sauerkraut was sour and everything arrived lukewarm rather than hot. Blackened day boat scallops were good, but the risotto (the menu said orzo salad) was almost too salty to eat.
The tender Burgundy-braised Kobe beef short ribs had a fine rich flavor. And the side of polenta (menu said potato soufflé) was light and lovely. The tasty Mother Seifert’s Own Recipe of Meatloaf—a proper mix of beef, veal and pork—was light and a bit loose. It also was lukewarm, as were the mashed potatoes.
Spagio’s 12-ounce New York strip steak was trimmed a bit fatty, but had a full beef flavor and the fat brought some tenderness (a good trade in my eyes). That evening’s special, paella, was a disappointment, however. The mix of seafood was light on crustaceans and heavy on hunks of fish; the portion of rice was skimpy, and there was so much broth the dish could have passed for soup.
Take note of the dessert case near the front door. I can testify that the chocolate mousse was rich and wonderful.
There was a decent selection of wine and beers. The poached pear sangria was excellent, a pretty purple in color, with just the right amount of sweetness. And the Bitburger pils on draft was elegantly light and tasty.
1295 Grandview Ave., Grandview
Price range: Appetizers $9-$13; soups and salads $6.75-$16; entrees $17-$28; pizza $10-$16; pasta $10-$17.
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 11 am to 11 pm; Friday and Saturday till midnight; Sunday 10:30 am to 10.30 pm; closed Monday.