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Mini Review: Sangiovese Ristorante

This long-revered Italian trattoria has seen two owners since legendary restaurateur Gino Pizzi founded it in the mid-’90s. And the facade changed as the shopping mall around the northside spot developed and boomed. Subsequent proprietors restyled the interior and refined the menu. Now, after closing for nearly nine months, Sangiovese Ristorante has found a fresh home in the ultramodern Ironworks at Keystone complex.

Sangiovese’s new spot may feel a bit canned, from the Peroni poster in the foyer to the relentless Sinatra soundtrack cycling during dinner. And longtime regulars might miss the live piano from the old days. But owner Chris Evans has installed enough original touches—giant glowing globe light fixtures and a rustic medieval banquet scene—to evoke the soul of the flagship Sangiovese, which always aimed less at breaking new culinary ground than at getting the standards right.

Evans’s succinct menu doesn’t pressure diners into courses, offering just a few solid starters, pastas, and entrees. An antipasto of sauteed calamari draws savory depth from caramelized onion and a light wine-and-parsley sauce, and a wedge salad comes showered with tangy marinated tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and a luscious bleu-cheese dressing. Pastas spare no calories, with rich toppings such as lasagna layered with bechamel and Bolognese. Lighter options include the penne alla Medici, tossed with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and artichoke hearts. On the down side, the white wine–lemon butter sauce topping the scaloppini alla picatta overwhelms, so much so that the sauteed veal gets soggy. The only housemade dessert option right now is, predictably, tiramisu, though Sangiovese’s version is just dense enough, with rich coffee undertones, demonstrating the balance and restraint this Italian favorite’s fans have loved since the old days. 2727 E. 86th St., 757-5913

This article appeared in the October 2015 Issue.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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