Food + Dining Main

Dining Review: Sasse’s

Sasse’s Restaurant is more about well-cooked, well-served dishes than trendy ingredients and chef one-upmanship.

BY August 29, 2014


Sometimes I think as diners we get caught up too much on ingredients, provenance and all the things we can really talk about with our friends the next day. We value the novel, the well-marketed, the stuff we hear someone gush over on the Food Network more than we do the simple comforts of a well-cooked, well-served meal.

Certainly there’s something to be said for the implied kitchen acrobatics of chefs working with exotic-sounding components or those whose sourcing is impeccable. But not every meal needs to be some sort of awe-inspiring feat of culinary jujitsu to be valuable.

In some ways, the greatest takeaway from a dinner at Sasse’s Restaurant in Fort Myers is how unobtrusive the experience is. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, let me be clear—you won’t regret a meal there. But you aren’t going to earn any foodie street cred by posting pictures of your dinner on Instagram.

And that’s OK. You’ll return home full, satisfied and perhaps with a better feel for your dining companions than you would have had if all your attention had been on the food instead of on the company.

That’s not to say the food isn’t wonderful. From the opening notes of the bright, pungent mustard aioli of the beef Carpaccio ($11) to the final bites of a firm but light flourless chocolate cake ($5), there was little complaining at the table. (My Italian-American wife didn’t love the marinara that accompanied the cheese-stuffed meatballs—$14. And the veal-heavy nature of the menu itself was the chief gripe.)

We started off the meal with mussels in a saffron cream sauce ($9), smartly augmented with diced fennel and celery to offer a crisp counterpoint to the soft mussels. The richness of the sauce paired well with a delightful 2009 Sangiovese from San Patrignano ($38) off the restaurant’s fun, inexpensive wine list. (No bottle clocks in at more than $60, and most are less than $40.)

While there are other things on the menu at Sasse’s, veal is chief among all proteins. We sampled it in a lovely, classic version of osso bucco Milanese ($42). The meat pulled easily from the bone but wasn’t the mushy mess that sometimes comes from being braised too long. And the saffron risotto—so often an afterthought component of the dish—was that perfect combination of creamy and al dente and brightened by the presence of basil oil.

Although the mashed potatoes served with the wood-fired bone-in pork chop ($25) weren’t spectacular, the chop itself was a marvel—juicy on the inside with the wonderful wood char flavor bringing out the meat’s subtle sweetness. Those same potatoes made a repeat appearance as the side with the fish of the day, in this case a horseradish-crusted salmon ($24). The fish was flaky without being dry, while the crust added a burst of heat and significant crunch.

At the end, we relished a panna cotta ($3.95) as much for a wild berry compote as for the sweet, foundation itself.

Nestled in a neighborhood that mixes residential and semi-industrial segments on Evans Avenue in Fort Myers, Sasse’s isn’t a place you are likely to stumble onto unless you are trying. But it’s worth the effort to find. You won’t be wowed, but you will leave happy.


Sasse’s Restaurant

3651 Evans Ave., Fort Myers; 278-5544,

Openfor lunch Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Tuesday through Saturday 5:30-9 p.m.

Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible.


Related Images: