Restaurant Review: Sapore

Location: 5 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 9666
Cuisine: Italian, Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 8/10
As part of our Valentines Day weekend, J surprised me with lunch at Sapore. The weather was incredible that day so we had a lovely stroll along St. Kilda beach before heading to lunch. This was J and I's third visit to this one-hat Italian restaurant. The last two occasions had been for dinner. Although we had enjoyed the food, we found the entire setting extremely claustrophobic. The manner in which the tables had been set were far too close in proximity for our liking. The organisation of the furniture is understandable given the limited space but it certainly affected our enjoyment as a whole. The walls are fitted with trendy looking sound absorption panels. Although aesthetically pleasing, they were clearly (as their description would suggest) to control the level of noise. However, they appeared to provide little comfort. The restaurant, during our previous visits, had been far from calm. J and I had to literally shout at each other to have a conversation eventhough we were seated quite cosily together. As such, it was interesting to see the stark day/night contrast in the restaurant's ambience.
The beautifully fresh baked bread was served with an amazing extra virgin olive oil. The quality of the olive oil is always such a telling indication of a restaurant's care and approach to food.
As we enjoyed the far more relaxed and peaceful ambience (the perks of dining here during the day) and took in the soft breeze drifting in from the ocean, we browsed through the menu. We noticed something - the downside of dining here during lunch. Two of their mains were only served during dinner (I would have liked to devour their Duck ‘tre modi again but it was only available after 6pm).
House-made potato gnocchi with braised rabbit, truffle butter and Parmesan

The meal started with an explosion of flavours in my mouth. The gnocchi was light and fluffy. The braised rabbit was tender and aromatic. An intense flavour of truffles permeated the dish. It was a decadent and delicious inception to the meal.
Hopkins River eye fillet with garlic mash potato, salsa verde and red wine sauce

This deceptively simple looking dish was good. The steak was incredibly tender and juicy. It had been beautifully seared and was flavoursome. Unfortunately, the eye fillet was cooked 'medium-well done' although we had requested for it to be cooked 'medium'. However, it was an enjoyable dish non the less. The red wine sauce was exquisite. It was sharp and had a well-balanced flavour.
Barramundi with kipfler potatoes, prawns & chervil and a lemon butter sauce

The Barramundi was cooked to perfection. The skin was delectably crisp and amply salted and the flesh gave way easily.
Banana bombolone with salted caramel sauce & toasted hazelnuts

The end to the meal was as amazing as the start. The bombolones served at Sapore are the best that J and I have ever had. The bombolones were puffy and beautifuly light on the inside and deliciously crisp on the outside. The banana flavour was tenaciously strong. The perfectly salty, sweet and creamy caramel sauce brought the whole dish together while the hazelnuts added a lovely crunchy element to the dish. It was sublime.

Sapore (meaning flavour in Italian), is indeed a restaurant that emphasises flavour. The food is modern but retains a lot of that traditional Italian 'soul'.

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