Trattoria Sofo, an Italian restaurant in the heart of Sylvania, is one of the prettiest rooms anywhere, with a cozy lounge at the side entrance, gleaming hardwood floors and sparkling lights in the restaurant proper, and the heady aroma of rich sauces wafting from the kitchen.
Equally lovely is the view from the large, wraparound windows that look overlook downtown Main Street. It s a great place to watch the world go by: pedestrians and automobiles drifting along in the glow of old-fashioned street lamps, plus a Charles Dickens view of Maplewood Square minipark just across the way, with what looks to be a gazebo tucked under three towering evergreens.
But of course, the food, not simply the view, is why we went there in the first place. Highlights from our initial visit included lavish house salads served with creamy Italian dressing; razor-thin smoked salmon with capers and artichokes ($10.95) from the appetizer menu, and an entr e of penne primavera ($17.95), as satisfying as any meat dish.
Unfortunately, we left with long faces after trying several dishes that were less than splendid. An appetizer of meatballs stuffed with salami, hard-cooked egg, and provolone ($10.95) arrived oversalted, while our entrees, baked Alaskan halibut with spinach ravioli ($22.95) and veal marsala with mushrooms ($19.95), were tough and chewy.
On the next visit, however, our faith in Trattoria Sofo and its owner and chef, Carl Sofo, was redeemed with meals that gladdened our hearts and appetites.
Sofo (no relation to the family that runs Sofo s Foods on Monroe Street) was the owner of the former Casa di Maria in Point Place. For nearly 30 years the eatery offered delicious Italian food, some of it not readily available elsewhere, such as saltimbocca and osso buco.
The Italian menu at Trattoria Sofo is more mainstream, and the prices, ranging from $25.95 for jumbo shrimp and pasta to $27.95 for steak au poivre, are on the expensive side. But as we discovered, the kitchen is more than capable of dishing up memorable food, washed down with a good selection of 25 white and red wines.
On that second visit, we again dived into the generous salads, along with warm bread and olive oil. Funghi ripieni con salsiccia, recommended by our gracious server, turned out to be a tasty appetizer of mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage ($8.95). The steak au poivre, presented medallion style with stuffed ravioli and a wonderful cream sauce, was tender and juicy; equally good was coquilles St. Jacques ($25.95) featuring large sauteed shrimp scampi and sea scallops over pasta cloaked in butter and cream.
The restaurant entrance is on Maplewood Avenue, where the lounge is located.
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