Savona’s Trattoria: Old World, Contemporary Dishes Meld And Everybody’s Happy
Nostalgia is a powerful flavor when it comes to Italian comfort food, but tastes these days are a lot more sophisticated. Savona’s Trattoria has become wildly successful in Red Hook, New York during its first year by serving up Italian-American comfort food with a contemporary sensibility.
Savona’s on a Sunday morning is the perfect way to start your week. They're packed for a jazz brunch that rivals any in the region, and features the Jeff DiMaio Jazz Trio, a tight yet soulful group that you can get lost in or simply just admire as your meal takes center stage.
Whenever you go, the atmosphere at Savona’s is relaxed, despite the restaurant being consistently busy. There's a good reason for that: it’s a well-run ship with a warm staff but most importantly, the food is really, really good. The Italian comfort food menu is reverent to the old-world style cooking many customers grew up with but it is prepared with nuance and a presentation that keeps it in league with its regional peers. They also have gluten-free options for many dishes including pizzas — which can be difficult to do well with Italian cuisine — but they more than pull it off.
Pasta dishes like bucatini and prosciutto carbonara ($20.95), rigatoni with broccoli rabe and sausage ($18.95) and “Nonna’s from scratch baked manicotti” ($17.95) live and die by the texture of the noodle and the quality and seasoning of the sauce. A visually simple dish is a complex balancing act. Savona’s hits the mark.
Classic appetizers and antipasti include a delicious burrata, fresh and creamy buffalo mozzarella with wood-fired tomatoes, prosciutto, basil and balsamic ($12.95). They also serve arancine, risotto balls lightly fried and filled with Bolognese ($8.95); fried zucchini flowers ($9.95) and a lot more. Savona's salads are a great way to start a meal or to accompany your cocktail in their big, attractive barroom.
The impressively large menu also includes seafood like Nona’s Salmon Lemoncello ($21.95) or the zuppa pescatore where all manner of tasty ocean critters get in the pool of flavorful tomato broth ($27.95). Any one of the chicken, fish, veal, steak or vegetarian dishes can be a real highlight to the night, and the pizzas coming out of the wood-fired brick oven are superb, as well. They're topping their pies with high-quality local and imported Italian ingredients but the star of the show is a fabulous charred but chewy, slightly tangy Neapolitan crust.
Many of the menu’s stars are also featured at the brunch buffet ($21.95 per person, $12.95 for kids under 12). Because the brunch is so popular, nothing sits long, so the eggs don’t dry out and the pasta’s never too soft. There is also a to-order omelet station and new pizzas are constantly coming out of the oven.
Another delightful surprise that sets Savona’s brunch apart from the rest is the quality and depth of the dessert lineup. You can't leave without saving a little room for traditional New York cheesecake, pastries, Italian cookies and light-as-air Arthur cannoli. If you’ve got a drop of Italian blood in you or just had an Italian grandma growing up, the dessert spread is going to take you back.
In addition, there’s a lunch menu that offers many items from the full menu along with burgers and sandwiches, salads and “Savona’s famous three-course pasta lunch express,” with a soup or salad, one of many pasta options and a dessert and a drink for $15.95.
Because Savona’s is able to do so much and run such a tight ship, it’s no surprise this is the family’s second location; its first shop is in Kingston. The building they’re in now was once the beloved Max’s BBQ. Residents mourned the loss of Max’s a few years ago, but the building must be good luck because though they've been open for just a year, Savona’s has already become one of the Red Hook area’s most popular restaurants.
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