Believe it or not, I rarely get a chance to eat out. Crazy, isn’t it? So when I do have the luxury of a night on the town, I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks. So last Saturday after a full day at the office, the last thing I wanted to do was grocery shop and cook a meal. Instead, I jumped onto the Open Table app on my phone and booked a table at Scotto’s. Funny, back in my younger days, I was quite the barfly at Scotto’s. But for some reason I hadn’t been there for at least 2 years. Two years! And The Festival is a hop, skip and a jump from my house.
On a Saturday evening, I definitely recommend having reservations. Their establishment is small, but beautifully decorated with lots of marble and an Italian villa-esque feel. We arrived early and had cocktails at the bar. The drinks were delicious but I was disappointed that their long-time bartender, Brian, no longer worked there. Brian mastered the art of hand-crafted cocktails long before they were even en vogue. But, the barmaid whipped up a wonderful Cosmopolitan in my own personal mini-shaker, almost worthy of the $9 pricetag. As I sat at the bar people-watching, I could view the kitchen through its large, glass window. If a restaurant is willing to let you see the inner-workings of their kitchen, you can best believe that the kitchen is spotless. Plus it’s fun to watch the chefs setting their pans on fire and tossing the food into the air.
Since this was “date night” with my husband, I was happy that we scored a corner booth away from the hustle and bustle. Our waitress was absolutely superb from start to finish and I would expect nothing less in a restaurant of this caliber. We ordered a bottle of Rose which was excellent and I am typically more of a Pinot Noir drinker. The wine list has some room for improvement. I am certainly not a wine aficionado, but nothing on their list really jumped out and grabbed me. Our first course was a mixture of clams and mussels in a white wine garlic sauce. It was served with little seafood forks which I was tempted to stab my date’s hand with every time he reached for another piece – it was just THAT good! Even though I, like everyone else, has sworn off bread after New Years, I found myself dunking the bread in the sauce after the shellfish was long gone.
I learned something at Scotto’s a long time ago – always order the special of the evening! They call it a “special” for a reason. This particular night they offered two different types of steak and a rockfish with crab. And that is one reason I love Scotto’s – they have something for everyone if you aren’t in a pasta kind of mood. I opted for the rockfish and although it was served with capellini, I asked for mashed potatoes instead (yeah, yeah, I already had the bread at this point, so might as well keep going with the carbs). The asparagus with grape tomatoes paired perfectly with this dish (side dishes are a la carte). The rockfish was fresh and cooked beautifully. Our other entrée was Veal Saltimboca (you may order Chicken Saltimboca if you prefer poultry over veal). The Saltimboca is a thin piece of veal cooked in a white wine sauce and topped with mozzarella, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. The remainder of Scotto’s menu contains the usual Italian suspects like lasagna and chicken parmesan, but also lots of seafood, veal and chicken dishes with ingredients like artichoke hearts, capers, fresh tomatoes, garlic and wine.
When the dessert tray was presented, I noticed a bottle of Kahlua Gingerbread – a flavor I did not recognize but it was a magnificent ending to a flawless meal. My husband ordered the cake in a To Go box but I’m pretty sure he gulped most of it down during the short ride home.
Our total bill came to $145 before tip for cocktails, wine, appetizer, dinner and dessert (wow!). A great way to experience Scotto’s without a triple digit bill would be to go for lunch. Or you can skip the cocktails but who wants to do that? I would like to see them at least serve a small salad with their entrees because the side dishes can really add up quickly.
On their website, www.scottosbelair.com, I noticed that they also have a catering menu. What a great idea if you are trying to pull together a last minute Super Bowl party.
So I say bravo and thank you to Scotto’s for bringing fresh and scrumptious cuisine to Harford County for over 20 years!
Festival at Bel Air