With only a handful of weeks left before summer is officially over, I felt it imperative to showcase a backyard BBQ favorite …sausage. Tucked away in a Newport Beach shipyard is Sabatino’s – Lido Shipyard Sausage Company. Peter Sabatino’s privately owned food factory is located next door to his restaurant where the family’s special sausage recipe, dating back to Sicily in 1864, and other food items are made fresh daily. The tubby tubes of encased meat are mixed with imported Sicilian goat’s milk cheese, various herbs and come in mild or spicy flavor.
As I left the comfort of my home in Laguna I contemplated the many dishes I wanted to try. Hungry and salivating, I walked past the outdoor hostess stand and dining patio into a lobby and storefront where a large refrigerated window display full of seafood, large coils of homemade sausage, fresh bell peppers stuffed with rice and sausage and other food items for take home beckoned.
Several of the pleasant staff greeted me and I was immediately seated. The bus boy quickly served me a small basket of French baguette slices and a delicious cup of complimentary soup. During these tough economic times I was pleased to discover Sabatino’s giving away a free cup of soup with my meal. My clam chowder was excellent - made with thick bacon pieces, tender bites of clams, dices of firm potatoes and oyster crackers. I may have enjoyed the chowder too quickly as the bus boy noticed me hastily gobbling up my soup and kindly offered another free cup (yes, I accepted)!
Grilled calamari steak limone is served piccata style with garlic, capers and fresh herbs, surrounded by lemon wedges and roasted red peppers. I am a seriously tough critic of properly prepared calamari (over-cooked, tough and rubbery calamari sucks) and my squid steaks were well prepared with a good balance of salty capers off-setting the tart lemon juice.
I rarely eat sandwiches but had to try the sausage sandwich at Sabatino’s. Peter and C’est Si Bon Bakery in Newport Beach have teamed up to create special baguettes made without yeast and very low in gluten with the end result a light, less filling bread. My Sicilian “low-fat” sausage sandwich over-flowed with fresh green peppers, onions and was served with a side of marinara sauce and a mixed green salad. One bite of the glistening, moist sausage sandwich filled my mouth with herbaceous flavors and sweet-salty cheese. I was satiated!
For my last attempt at a food coma I ordered the Pizza Sabatino – sauce and cheese pizza. With the addition of mushrooms, black olives, sausage and green peppers and made with fresh pizza dough this thin crust pie was mediocre at best. I must admit, my heart’s desire was won over by the fresh sausage, not a pizza pie.
Desserts at Sabatino’s are made fresh daily and include the “best Tiramisu around”, New York style cheesecake, cannolis and “After Dark in a Blanket” - homemade crepe stuffed with vanilla bean ice cream served with zabione crème, hot fudge and fresh strawberry sauce. After tasting many savory dishes my palate lacked the desire for sweets – my belly was full therefore I passed on dessert. Albeit, the After Dark in a Blanket teases my senses and sounds tantalizingly tempting!
My primary goal in dining at Sabatino’s was to try the homemade cheesy sausage. Fellow foodies don’t be mistaken the restaurant offers many more Italian food items from pastas, poultry, veal and seafood to a vegetarian menu. Wine and beer are available and should you decide to bring your own wine, there’s a $22 corkage fee.
Note: After my solo lunch I purchased one pound each of mild and spicy sausage and looked forward to the sights and lingering cheesy smell of grilling the fat tubes at home. After several minutes of cast iron grilling, I turned the sausages to grill the other side and noticed some crispy-chewy cheese chunks had oozed out of the meat casings and sizzled on the hot grill. As the goat cheese caramelized and hardened, I quickly picked off the crispy cheese cracklings and popped them into my mouth. The taste combo of moist and lean flavored sausage and Sicilian goat cheese was delectable!
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