Barbara Lynch’s take on a modern Italian diner is located on Congress Street in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood above her bar, Drink. Serving lunch & dinner, this casual atmosphere provides mostly table top seating with a few surrounding tables. Lining the back wall are fresh dried pastas for sale, along with olive oil & house made chocolate bars. To the left is a bakery counter complete with items ranging from fresh bread to breakfast pastries to cupcakes & cookies. If you need a caffeine fix you can choose from their list of coffees, espresso, & lattes.
Two friends & I sat at the corner of the counter top on round stools facing the window, looking out onto Congress Street.
Bread: The waiter started us with a few slices of bread, accompanied by a small bowl of whipped ricotta cheese, apple & pear chutney, drizzled with oil olive & sea salt. The bread itself wasn’t much to brag about but I did appreciate that the light spread was something other than butter.
Menu: Presented as a laminated place mat on which your meal is served, the dinner menu is separated into four categories: appetizers, pastas, entrees, and desserts. Now, when I dine out, there are a few items that I just can’t resist: tomato soup, any pasta with a bolognese sauce, and polenta. (Un)fortunately for me, this menu had all three. I started with the spicy tomato soup served with caraway grilled cheese, and it’s a very rare occasion that I deny a bolognese.
Presentation: Soup is served in a bowl with crostini laid across the top. I find some tomato soups can be too oily but this version was just right. It was creamy without being too heavy, and the grilled cheese was tasty & perfect for dipping. The tagliatelle bolognese was fantastic, topped with grated cheese & a leaf of fried basil. I had no trouble finishing my plate as the serving was generous but didn’t leave me leaving uncomfortably full. My only criticism is that I personally have a love for sauce and this dish just didn’t have enough. It was full of meat which is a plus, but if I could I would have added more of a sauce to go along with it. The tagliatelle however was a light pasta, cooked to perfection.
Bathroom: A tiny one stall bathroom with white & brown tiled walls. Despite the lack of room, a sleek sink design & automatic flusher gave this extra points!
Wait Staff: Our waiter was pleasant & very knowledgeable about the menu and wine list. At one point the floor manager/host approached us and asked how we enjoyed the evening and what brought us to Sportello. I appreciated this and told him I had been wanting to try a Barbara Lynch restaurant and that this was my first Lynch experience. I was planning on making it two in one night, but didn’t have time to make it downstairs to Drink.
Overall: I wouldn’t recommend Sportello if you’re looking for an intimate date night or have a large party as the tables are limited and eating at a counter top with more than 4 people can cause for broken conversations. My two friends & I had a great time, we enjoyed our meals but were unfortunately too full to indulge in dessert. I’ll have to return and look further into that bakery case.
The Perfect Bite: While the meat was tender & plentiful, the bolgnese didn’t provide enough sauce to make it “perfect”. Dipping the crunchy, cheesy crostini into the bowl of tomato soup was too good to be true, I just wish I had more grilled cheese to clean the bowl with!