Sapore is a stellar one hatted (The Age Good Food Guide) Italian restaurant in a city which excels at Italian cuisine. Sapore means taste or flavour in Italian and Sapore brings a cacophony of flavour to its every dish. We enjoyed several signature dishes at Sapore and all exceeded expectation.
Sapore carries an air of sophistication but also the ability to relax with modern décor, comfortable seating, and chilled music. The chic ambience is amplified from being in St Kilda by the sea with amazing views of the bay and parklands. As you dine you can admire the ships in the bay as well as the odd windsurfer. Lighting is dim with candles and a spectacular retro collection of pendant lights reaching down from the ceiling. Spaciousness is felt as the frontage is opened up onto eclectic Fitzroy St.
Sapore brings respect to the Italian way in its cooking but there is joy in bringing a twist to classic dishes. The team here is experienced and creative featuring Simon Moss as head chef. Simon likes to cook Modern Italian way but with a French influence.
The entrees were completely satisfying and exceeded expectation. We enjoyed the Saporetti – a collection of tastes. The standout was the beef carpaccio – surely one of the best carpaccios in Melbourne. Genius from the chef who has taken a classic Italian dish and with a twist turned it into a deconstructed Caesar salad with white anchovies, parmesan, cos lettuce, organic egg and aoli. The portion is large and the presentation superb. We found this moorish and a compelling dish.
The Prosciutto with fig and rockmelon was also superb. The flavour combination was excellent with the richness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of the rockmelon and fig cutting through. There was a high note of mint, a clever addition. This was another entrée that was outstanding, of substance, but not heavy.
Another standout was the Arancini. Again with a twist this classic Italian dish featured arancini full of creamy fine spinach and melted cheese rather than plain version with rice.
The Seafood linguine was sublime, with large fresh seafood of prawns, calamari, mussels and fish with chilli and parsley. The pasta was fresh and alive and the sauce tasty but not overpowering. Subtle use of parsley and a hit of chilli made for a stellar dish.
As for the mains, the 12 Hour Greenvale Farm Rare Breed Pork Belly with cabbage, fennel, granny smith apple sauce, and a crisp crochette, was another amazing dish. The pork was perfectly cooked with crispy skin and tender inside. The granny smith apple sauce was superb providing welcome sweetness as a classic match with pork. The salad also cut through the richness of the pork. And a surprise but welcome addition was the flavoursome crochette. While it didn’t need it I enjoyed the dish with shoe string fries.
The Duck “tres modi” was another outstanding signature dish which came with baby spinach, butternut pumpkin, and Masala-sultana sauce. Each section of duck was cooked to perfection and the accompaniments were sublime such as the Masala-sultana sauce to include sweetness to counter the richness of the duck. The terrine was exquisite, the duck leg wonderful and the duck breast slightly pink and not overcooked.
Other options on the menu also looked attractive such as the House made potato gnocchi with braised rabbit and truffle butter, and the Hopkins River eye fillet, baked potato with leek, thyme and Parmesan and red wine sauce.
Just when we thought it had been a memorable night, the desserts took it to another level. The Limoncello semifreddo with Manuka honey sabayon, honeycomb and fresh berries must surely be one of the best desserts in Melbourne. We were told the chef makes the lemon liqueur on site and uses quality fresh lemons and Polish spirit.
The Limoncello was a symphony of taste on the palate. It came with fig and berries that could be dipped in manuka honey then combined with the limoncello – a killer combination. You get a hit of lemon without the bitterness of lemon. Limoncello is a staple of Southern Italy and is now fast growing in global popularity.
A classic favourite, the Tiramisu, was another highlight. It’s advertised as “The Lucchesi” family recipe with house made walnut bread. Having experienced many takes on this dish across Melbourne I found this to be one of the best. It comes served in a large glass. The layers of tiramisu were all finely constructed.
The wine list is outstanding and complements the fine dining options.
Coffee here was also excellent, often lacking at fine dining restaurants. My short macchiato was superb.
The service here was friendly, engaging and professional. Of significance was that each dish was briefly explained as they put it on the table – evidence of a top notch restaurant. The restaurant manager Jenna was warm and superb at front of house.
Of great value are the Signature nights – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday where you get 3 courses for $45 including a glass of wine. The beauty is that the dishes on offer are actually all signature dishes.
Several of my friends consider Sapore to be a favourite and a restaurant of consistent quality and flair. We were impressed with every dish and the overall experience was outstanding. Sapore is a super impressive Italian restaurant.
Check out their website at www.sapore.com.au
Sapore, 5 Fitzroy Street St Kilda – Italian - Food 9.5 Ambience 9