23 May 2012


It didn't surprise me when I learned, just before paying the check, that sapori had opened less than a month ago. Our waiter forgot, twice, to bring us our bread, left the chicken off of my chicken caesar salad, then spent a good five minutes leaning over our table, attempting to peel open the parchment paper that was wrapped (apparently very tightly) around my dad's branzino in order to sprinkle a little bit of pink sea salt on top of the fish.

Luckily, the fish was delicious - steamed to perfection with olives and artichokes - and the salad was exactly what I wanted - tossed with shaved parmesan and topped (eventually) with thinly-sliced and juicy grilled chicken. The side of sauteed broccoli rabe was also fantastic and, like everything else we tried, very european in its freshness and simplicity. And though I didn't taste them, word is that the thin-crust pizzas are the best in the area.

But what really made the night memorable (and why I will absolutely return) were the waiters. Incredibly kind and warm, laughing off their mistakes, joking with my dad as though they were old friends - I felt, by the end of the night, as though I'd been invited into a wonderful, if slightly dysfunctional, italian family. The space only added to that feeling. The front part of the restaurant is incredibly cozy, with exposed brick walls, rustic wooden tables and a wood burning pizza oven visible from just about every seat. The back opens out into a quiet, open-air patio, surrounded by tall yellow walls. It's decorated very simply - metallic patio furniture, a few blazing lights, some plants in the corners - and left me feeling as though I'd been transported from the heart of manhattan to a quiet corner in florence.

There are nights when it's fun to get dressed up and fight for a seat at one of manhattan's thousands of crowded, trendy restaurants. But for nights like last night - still and humid, after a long day at work, sweaty from running errands and dressed in leggings and a tank top - places like sapori are perfect. And, particularly in the murray hill area, not always that easy to find.

*For the next two weeks or so, before they get their liquor license, sapori is BYOB. Take advantage!

153 E 33rd St (b/w 3rd and Lex)
  caesar salad with grilled chicken
  branzino in parchment paper

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