Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spritz, Olde Towne Marina, Sandyport

Spritz, an aperitif consisting of wine sparkling water and liquer is an apt choice of name for this revamped canalside bar and restaurant. Opened last October, it was just the pick me up that the Old towne area of Sandypants badly needed. Its previous incarnation was possibly called Barnacles and a rather sad and empty place, languishing on the rocks.
Under new management, the team behind the News cafe, Spritz seems to be positively fizzing with energy.
The Juggernaut and I popped down for dinner last weekend. It was alive and kicking, with bodies filling the bar area and tables outside. There were as drinkers as there were diners, with a healthy dose of kids added to the mix. Clearly this place has quite the following now. It was as noisy as a busy pub on a Friday night after work. Having neglected to book, we were lucky to get a table. The makeover was attractive and simple; with dark exposed beams, pendant lights and fairy lights twinkle away. Nautical touches abounded, from rope-clad columns to anchor patterned upholstery, which managed to avoid looking too cheesy. The gaps in the wooden decking went straight down to the canal below. Lo and behold anyone who might drop a credit card, wedding ring or car keys down the slot. There could be quite a collection lurking in those waters.
The menu was filled with crowd-pleasing Italian inspired fare, from appetisers such as tomato bruschetta with feta and oregano ($8) and involtini di melanzane ($10) to enticing pastas such as Orechiette with pancetta, spicy tomato and arugula ($19) ), Linguine with shrimp and zucchini ($24), entrees like grilled salmon with Mediterranean dressing ($26), pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto with lemon and sage ($28) and Ossobucco di Vitello alla Milanese ($30). Prices were fair and square for this island, actually pretty damn reasonable. J was ravenous and ordered some deep fried calamari with tomato and herb dip ($12) immediately. We also ordered some San Pelegrino and kicked back in the pretty bistro chairs. Our friend JB joined us and we ordered one of three Pinot grigios on the menu, the ubiquitous Santa Margherita.  Meanwhile we strained to hear each other speak. The wine was slow to make an appearance and despite an abundance of waiters, we had to chase it up. Our sweet waiter came over to inform us that our drop of choice wasn’t sufficiently cooled, so we opted for one of other Pinot Grigios on the menu. No one likes a lukewarm glass of white wine and with my pregnancy-induced-two-drink-a-week-limit, I ain’t settling for no below par beverage. Our poor waiter, under mounting pressure to open the damn bottle, proceeded to snap the corkscrew. We placed our orders and strained to hear each other speak. It was so bloody loud that conversation became rather difficult. The Juggernaut offered one of his architectural pearls of wisdom; ‘This place needs some sort of acoustical material to absorb sound.” Hmm, yes, quite.
Our food arrived in good time. My Penne Portobello ($20) was a steamy pile of heavenly smelling pasta, woven with strands of spinach and mushroom. The sauce was delicious, with the picant notes of gorgonzola balancing the creaminess. Very well made. My unborn baby was in for a treat. J had the chicken breast with Marsala sauce, roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli. It was like a proper Sunday roast,  really satisfying. JB had a rib eye steak with roast potatoes and grilled peppers, zucchini and eggplant. He seemed very pleased with how it was cooked but like a teenage boy, didn’t eat any of his vegetables. I can’t tell you what both of these cost but I think they were around the thirty dollar mark.The hearty portions obliterated any need for dessert, although the chocolate and orange cake and homemade rum and raisin ice cream would have been my choice. Instead we got some espressos. The Juggernaut had a great big whisky, whilst JB opted for a beer. It was the start of booze fuelled odyssey for them, while I looked wistfully, trying to recall the last time I got drunk and looking forward to the next time I could. Apart from the noisiness, I must say I’m a big fan of Spritz. The food is delicious, unpretentious and affordable. A breath of life has restored this deserted area behind the gas station. The residents of Sandypants are well catered for here. It was a smart move to ensure longevity. Spritz is as refreshing as its namesake. I hope it’s here to stay.