We hadn’t been back to Sea Salt since COVID, so we jumped at the chance to be a part of a special dinner to introduce their new menu. For us, we also got introduced to their current team:general manager Mark Armato, executive chef Jonathan Rodriguez, director of special events Maryl Holley Barber, and sommelier Ryan McSwiggin. This is a first-class culinary team that the owners have brought together.
If you’re not familiar with Sea Salt, then you need to be. Owners Ingrid and Chef Fabrizio Aielli have a love of Northern Italian culinary traditions, and bring a dedicated philosophy of quality, freshness, and ingredient purity to everything they serve. The space is stylish and cool, beautiful and warm, but not stuffy – you can wear sandals and shorts (probably not tee shirts), or dress up.
It was an impressive showing, with every dish perfectly executed and paired with some lovely wines. If every meal from this new menu meets these standards, they should get 5 out 5 stars from everyone. We certainly raved about the meal on all our platforms.
All the dishes were delicious, but the best dishes were first and last. The first two courses were Chef Rodriguez show-stoppers, in terms of flavor, creativity, and plating. The first course was a lobster and crab cake that had a pommery mustard sauce. The mustard sauce was a perfect match, made with a delicate touch – the perfect amount of flavor, that did not overwhelm the lobster/crab combo. The second course was even better – diver scallops with eggplant caponata, parsnip puree, pine nuts, and pesto cream sauce. These first two dishes were paired with an unusual wine – a chardonnay from Tuscany. The Felsina I Sistri Berardenga Chardonnay (2018) was crisp and light with no heaviness whatsoever. It’s a beautifully balanced Chardonnay with white and light fruit, good acidity. A real find by somm Ryan.
In general, we go to Sea Salt for their fish and pasta. Don’t ever miss their pasta – that would be a shame. Their pasta is handmade, and always delicious. Our meal had the osso bucco ravioli with black truffle cream and pecorino tartufo. It was soooo decadent, but everyone’s plate was clean. Somm Ryan again served us a wine curve ball – a Tuscan Syrah from Poggio Al Tesoro called Mediterra Toscana (2018). Medium to full body, nice simple acidity, and a long finish of red and black fruits with some herbal notes, pepper, and oak smoke. It was a big overwhelming for the pasta, but was a very nice wine without food.
The main course was a Fall/Winter pleaser – braised short ribs on a bed of butternut squash, served with a wild mushroom sauce. The short ribs are one of my personal favorites – and these were done to perfection. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and full of flavor. Chef Rodriguez showed off his skills with all the dishes, and this one was no exception. It was also beautifully plated.
Despite full bellies, we dove into the dessert. Because it’s chocolate. Because it’s so beautiful. And the title: Chocolate Temptation Cake – so who can resist. Resistance is futile, in this case especially. It was surprisingly light but still rich-flavored. Not to be missed.
So dip your feet into the waters of Sea Salt, and try some of these fabulous new menu items.