Italian eats, bistro style
Sabatino’s wants to bring Boston’s North End to Derry
By Lisa Brown email@example.com
Sabatino’s North in Derry belongs to Joey Sabatino and his childhood best friend, Lori Sutera.
The two grew up together working at Sabatino’s in Boston’s North End, which was owned by Joey’s father, Bill, for nearly 40 years before he shut it down earlier this year. Sabatino’s North, 14 E. Broadway, is all about trying to recreate that restaurant’s authentic Italian food.
“That means that all the ingredients [are] fresh, the pasta is fresh and cooked to order, dishes that only the Boston North End can offer, it’s kind of unique,” Sutera said.
“When you come in, we want you to feel comfortable, we want you to get a taste of a bistro at inexpensive prices,” Sutera said.
It is nearly impossible to read the four-page menu without uttering out loud the names of the dishes in a slight Italian accent, and that’s before a sip of wine. Chicken Braciolettini, Fusilli Martrigiana, Fra Diavlo, they roll off the tongue with the ease of a Puccini aria. The restaurant, on the main drag in the center of town in Derry, can’t be missed with its crisp bright black canvas awning that snaps to attention above its entrance. Inside the lighting is dim and tables are spaced enough apart to offer privacy. The decor is warm and modern. There’s an inviting long granite-topped bar with stools as well as a smartly decorated sitting area with a comfy couch and club chairs for waiting guests or cocktail sippers. Joey Sabatino takes care of the bar side, while Lori Sutera oversees the dining room. The wait staff at Sabatino’s is seasoned.
“We actually have the same exact crew we’ve been working with for the past 15 years,” Sutera said. “We have the same chef which we had for ten years.”
Expect to find some of the signature dishes on the menu that made Sabatino’s popular in the North End, including the steak Sabatino (sirloin with minced onion, fresh mushrooms and herbs flambéed in a wine sauce), Chicken Braciolettini (tender slices of chicken stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella rolled, then sautéed with fresh mushrooms flambéed in a butter wine sauce) and veal Saltimbocca (tender slices of veal stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella dipped in an egg batter pan fried and flambéed in a wine sauce).
“We have a great Ciappino, it’s mussels and clams, calamari and shrimp over pasta and it’s done a little spicy with the tomato sauce,” Sutera said.
“Everything is made from scratch and fresh. I actually had a customer I’d been waiting on for years [with a special diet] and every time he comes in I have to have fresh tomato sauce,” Sutera said. “You have to cater to those people who need certain food, they deserve to eat out too, so you can’t have things already made.”
The menu at Sabatino’s is friendly and encourages sharing beginning with the $15 Sabatino’s Platter appetizer. The platter includes sopressata (salami), sauteed escarole, fried peppers, sautéed mushrooms and imported aged provolone cheese. The Italian Antipasto for $12 is also large enough to share. Soups, which are all homemade, include the classics, minestrone, pasta fagioli, escarole (with pastina and tiny meatballs) and stracciatella, which is a Roman version of egg-drop soup with cheese.
Sabatino’s bills itself as a family restaurant and while it does offer a limited children’s menu ($5 to $7), the restaurant does not serve pizza. Pasta entrées range in price from $12 to $14; chicken, steak, veal and seafood dishes average $18. While service is prompt and attentive, the food at Sabatino’s is meant to be savored and enjoyed, so linger. You’re in Derry after all.