Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sagra Ristorante: Opening in Dedham

Sagra Ristorante will be opening a restaurant in Dedham, at 910 Washington Street, in early May. The word sagra (sah’-grah) is Italian for “festival.” A pre-opening, reception will be held as a benefit for the Dedham Food Pantry.

Sagra promises an extensive menu of Italian food and wine, cocktails served in a lively and comfortable bar, music, free parking, imported Italian provisions in an adjacent takeout shop called Sagra on the Side, and a large function room called Second Floor Sagra.

Sagra boasts New England’s only Vegawatt system, which turns used vegetable oil into electricity to heat the dining room and provide hot water. The Vegawatt is truly unique, and makes Sagra a better green energy user.

Sagra Ristorante has been operating in Somerville’s Davis Square since 2007. When FINZ of Dedham closed its doors, Sagra’s owners saw an opportunity to introduce the Italian festival food concept to a suburban audience.

The menu at Sagra/Dedham will be almost identical to the one in Somerville, with the addition of several fresh fish and seafood specialties (like Schrod in Fish Fumet with Asparagus & New Potatoes), and a raw bar.

Signature items include: handmade gnocchi with duck ragu and orange essence; Lasagna Vincigrassi, a recipe from the Le Marche region with a sauce of beef, pork and chicken; Frutti di Mare; and lobster served at least four ways. Prices are moderate at $16-22 for most main courses.

Other noteworthy dishes:
Risotto del Giorno
Eggplant or Porchetta Milanese
Veal or Chicken Parmigiano
Ravioli di Langostino with Maine Lobster
Half a dozen appetizing antipasti selections
Local, sustainable fresh fish entrees offered daily
Pizzas, zuppas, insalatas, contorni and fritture

Chef David Artiano comes to Sagra with almost a decade of experience. He worked side by side with Lydia Shire at Biba, Excelsior and Locke-Ober. His resume boasts a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and five years in the U.S. Navy.

As for wine, expect many selections from throughout the boot of Italy, with occasional nods to well-produced wines from Oregon, Spain, California and South America. Bottles are priced reasonably, and more than 20 wines are sold by the glass. Intriguing $10 wine flights are available for those who like sampling.

As for cocktails, Sagra bar professionals are creative and versatile; trained to concoct almost 25 types of martinis alone. Celebrate with a Prosecco cocktail, a Bellini, a rummy Sagra punch, or a Sagra-tini. All drinks are $8-9.

At press time, and pending feedback from Sagra’s customers, management plans to offer karaoke on Thursday nights, the sounds of the 80s on Fridays, and a Salute to Frank Sinatra with locally renowned crooner Rich DiMare and his trio on alternate Saturday nights. Music begins at 9 PM and continues til 1 AM.

Sagra on the Side -- An Italian Market
Adding Italian flavor to the food shopping scene in Dedham, this bright and spacious shop just steps away from the main entry will be open seven days a week from 11 AM to 7 PM for the lunchtime takeout crowd, and for shoppers seeking the best imported Italian olive oils and vinegars, top brand imported pastas, jarred condiments, sauces and vegetables, and more.

Executive Chef David Artiano has provided a recipe for Cioppino

Serves 5
1 TB. olive oil
1/4 cup, onion, chopped fine
bunch scallions, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 bulb fennel, chopped fine
2 cups bottled clam juice
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, any Italian brand
½ cup tomato puree
1 cup white wine, a dry Italian if it’s handy
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

15 littleneck clams
1 lb. lump crab meat, fresh or canned
30 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ¼ lbs. swordfish, cut into 1” cubes
3 TBS. basil, chopped

In a large stew pot, heat the olive oil til shimmering, then add the onions, scallions, green pepper and fennel. Saute until onions are translucent.

Add the garlic and sauté one minute, or, until you can smell its aroma. Add the wine and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

Add the clam juice, bay leaf, tomatoes and puree. Cover the mixture and simmer for 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf. The result is a flavorful broth to which you will now add the clams, crab, shrimp and swordfish. Heat through until fish flakes and shrimp curl – approx. 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve in shallow bowls with basil garnish and crusty Italian bread on the side.


Anonymous said...

Just ate at the Dedham location. I had high hopes but am sorry to say it was awful. We waited forever for our food and when it came it was awful. I ordered the cioppino - very little seafood (undercooked) . My husband had lobster ravioli and believe it or not, it was worse than mine.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hello Anonymous:
First, Sagra has just opened so some leeway needs to be given to them, as with any new restaurant, while they work out any kinks.

Second, what did you do about the food issues? Did you speak to the management? I expect they would have remedied the situation.

Third, I have eaten there and enjoyed the different dishes I tried, from the Arancini to the Sagra Pizza. Plus, what I saw of the other dishes looked quite good.