Thursday, September 27, 2012

Working on Getting a Good Meal at Sabatino

Sabatino Pizza and Pasta
23032 Alicia Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

Sometimes you just do not want to go to far from home. This was the case on Labor Day. Besides the stifling heat we have been having, Labor Day always seems like a depressing holiday to me. When I was a kid it always marked the end of summer and the start of school. Now that I am older, Labor Day means more cars will be out on the road during morning rush hour, the weather will be turning cooler, and football season will be starting. Okay, two of those things are good, but I still have been scarred by Labor Day, so I was not in a great mood to battle the beach traffic, and wanted just an easy night somewhere around our house. That's how we came upon Sabatino.

Sabatino is located a few miles from our house, in an Albertson's shopping center on the way to RSM. The restaurant is small, with only ten tables or so. The decor is dominated by the color brown, with a real comfortable, updated feel to it. The Labor Day crowd was trickling in during our visit. At the height of their busiest, they probably had about five tables full. They do have some seating outside, but with the heat everyone opted to sit inside. The staff is on the younger side, but all seemed very polite. The menu is not crazy big, but the staple Italian items are here. Let's see how everything came out of the kitchen for us.

Starting us off are the Garlic Knots that came out to the table. These were pretty good. They came out warm, had a decent garlic flavor, and were pretty soft. Not the best garlic knot I have had, those would be at Oggi's, but not bad for free. The marinara served with this was slightly sweet, and went well with the garlic here.

I have been on a real Caesar Salad ($3.95) kick, and I basically picked an Italian restaurant just to order one. This salad had plenty of dressing and cheese, which I liked, but the croutons were this salad's downfall. They had no crunch to them, and were just cut up pieces of garlic bread. Katie was pretty excited by her Side Dinner Salad ($3.95). Not only was the price right, but she really liked this salad. The olives and cheese really enhanced the produce, and no complaints with the ranch dressing.

Let's go with Katie's meal first. She selected the Spinach Cannelloni ($11.95). This was hand rolled pasta stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, and spinach, topped with a tomato-butter-sage sauce. I like to think of these as an Italian enchilada. The sauce was mellow, but very fresh. The spinach was cooked well and not soggy, like some restaurant spinach can be sometimes. This is not usually a meal I would order because of the lack of meat, but it was good enough that I may consider it on future visits.

Not the most photogenic lasagna ever, but a deceivingly large portion. This Homemade Lasagna ($10.95) had layers of ground beef, pasta, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and was topped with marinara sauce. The sauce was pretty sweet tasting. I toned it down with some Parmesan cheese. Crushed red pepper flakes would have done the trick as well. I would have liked the meat to have been in bigger hunks, but this was a solid lasagna. Plenty of cheese on this one.

Sabatino may not be destination dining, but if you are in the area it is not a bad place to visit. The two entrees we had were pretty good. Not going to blow you away, but they were better than most. A good majority of their business was to go orders. Almost all of the to go orders while we were here were for their pizza, so that might be what we try on our next visit. I thought the prices were pretty good for the size of the plates. Service was not top notch, but they never really forgot about us. Glad this place was close by, so we did not have to fight Labor Day traffic.

Out of five white shirts, (since it was Labor Day, and as a rule you should not wear white clothing after this holiday), five being best to zero being worst, Sabatino Pizza and Pasta gets 3 white shirts.

For more information on Sabatino Pizza and Pasta, click here:

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