Salvatore’s Ristorante Italiano is on my daily lunchtime walk through Vineyard Haven.
Since the restaurant on Union Street opened a little over a year ago, I’ve been eyeing it for a date night with my wife. Something about the twinkling lights over the outdoor seating with a view out to Vineyard Haven Harbor spoke to me.
But finding the time was difficult.
On Thursday, I saw one last opportunity. With temperatures hovering around 70° despite the Oct. 21 date on the calendar, I called the restaurant to see if they were opening up that outdoor seating.
When they said yes, I booked a reservation. “One question,” I asked, “Can my dog sit with us outside?”
“Of course,” said the voice on the other end. “We’re very dog-friendly.”
I’ve found through the years these impromptu dinner dates can be some of the best. There’s something about the spontaneity of it all. My wife came over on the late afternoon ferry, and we made our way over to Union Street. Typically, we don’t go out on work nights, but we made a rare exception.
Let’s start with the drink menu. It was difficult to choose from the many cocktails on the menu, so I asked our server what she might choose between two of them. She said to go with Amore ($15), which features Patrón Silver, Grand Marnier, Chambord, fresh lime and lemon, and cane sugar syrup, served in a metal glass with salt on the rim. It was delicious, and not as sweet as you might think with the sugar. My wife got the Blueberry Lemonade ($14), and was not disappointed with her selection. I can’t wait to go back to try the Bacio, which features Stoli Cucumber, lime juice, blue agave nectar, fresh muddled blackberries, and homemade lime-lemon sparkling water. If you’ve followed some of my past Dine writing, you know I love a good cucumber martini.
I was tempted to get the Islanders Talk martini, but was worried it might be as toxic as the Facebook group of the same name. We might have to talk to chef and owner Salvatore della Torre to see how we get an MV Times drink on the menu.
For an appetizer, we got the Arancini ($20), which is risotto and mozzarella cheese with breadcrumbs, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, white truffle oil, and housemade tomato sauce. It was good, but not a home run. I wish we had gone with our other choice, which was the Caprese salad. Ultimately, we made the decision based on not falling into a rut of always getting the Caprese. But sometimes the well-worn rut is the best path.
Speaking of well-worn ruts. I’ve been on a Tagliatelle Ragu ($35) kick, and Salvatore’s did not disappoint. I thought I just had the best one of my life on a visit to Wilmington, N.C., but the chunks of beef, lamb, and veal in Salvatore’s ragu were tender and tasty. Move over, Wilmington.
My wife thoroughly enjoyed her Spaghetti al Pomodoro ($26), which is spaghetti with housemade tomato sauce and creamy fresh burrata and Parmigiano cheese with fresh basil.
We were tempted to get dessert, but neither of us could put down our forks from the outstanding pasta dishes, and found ourselves with no room. But rest assured, we’ll be back.
Sometimes a place can’t live up to the expectations I set in my mind. In this case, it turned out to be just as I’d imagined. A good meal, a romantic atmosphere, and the best company a guy can cook up.
Salvatore’s Ristorante Italiano, 20 Union St., Vineyard Haven; 508-687-9457, salvatoresristorante.com.