Big Fish Restaurant Group and former Third Edition/RedFin owner Greg Talcott's new Sazio Italian restaurant opened this summer in the old Zebra restaurant space at 32 Lake Ave. (across from Stingray). The concept is seafood with an Italian accent.
This is not the first Italian venture for BFRG. They opened Bella Coast several years ago on Concord Pike in Wilmington, but it did not perform as well as their seafood restaurants, and they sold the beautifully appointed location to Touch of Italy.
Sazio partner Greg Talcott was the original owner of Redfin in Bethany Beach until it became Bluecoast eventually under the ownership of Matt Haley. Talcott and Haley met when Haley worked at Talcott's Third Edition restaurant in the space where Stingray is now, directly across the street from Sazio. There's a LOT of local history between those two buildings!
Our second visit to Sazio was similar to the first. Some dishes excellent, some good and a few just OK. One of the stars of the show at Sazio is the pork chop. If I had to make a choice, I would actually say that the one we had that night was one of the best I've ever had. Perfectly seared on the outside with a light crust, and exceptionally moist and flavorful on the inside. The spice was perfectly moderated to allow the actual taste of the pork to shine. I am hoping that that dish is served the same every time we go, as I will certainly get it again. On the other end of the spectrum, the pizza I ordered was just OK. I expected better from their wood-fired oven, but the crust was a bit soft and tasteless with an unimpressive sauce. I suspect that the sauce was just spread too thinly on the crust to be of any importance in the taste. The toppings were obviously of high quality, but the crust is what it's all about when it comes to pizza. So I'll leave the pies to the vacationers.
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Another top notch dish is the swordfish puttanesca. Puttanesca is a brightly spiced Italian-style preparation with capers, anchovies and olives. I've never had it on fish before, but I have to tell you it was excellent. Take a look at it in the gallery. It was served with brussel sprouts, as was the pork chop.
Apparently a night of ups and downs, the garlic bread was not as good as I expected it would be. The slices of bread were way too thick, making it difficult to eat without having to squeeze the slice and have butter running down your chin and/or your arm. A high point of the garlic bread, however, was the pesto topping. I wanted more of that and less of the bread. They should cut those huge slices in half, making the dish even more generous while not affecting their cost (other than a bit more topping). Another high point, though is the blistered shishito peppers. It's a simple preparation with roasted peppers coated with olive oil and dusted with salt. Sazio did it right and those should be on the must-get list. I find them habit-forming.
The relatively new restaurant also hit the jackpot with the tortellini and the ravioli dishes. Both were served in a simple, rustic style with a minimum of toppings. We were actually able to taste the pasta. Both of these are recommended! We owe Sazio another visit before I can apply any stars to the place, and I'm looking forward to returning. I'll force somebody at the table to get the pork chop again….
In the Rehoboth area, Eric and Norman Sugrue's Big Fish Restaurant Group also operates or partners in Salt Air, The Crab House, Summer House, Stingray, Obie's by the Sea, Big Fish Grill in Rehoboth and Bethany Beach, Big Fish Seafood Wholesale, as well as several properties upstate and in Baltimore.
In season call 302-226-1160 for reservations. Like its predecessor in that beachy spot, the place is pricey. But in my opinion well worth it.