As my doctor says, “A little heartburn is a sign of a great meal.”

Every now and then I get in a monster mood for some hardcore, old-school, red-sauce Southern Italian food.  A mini-excursion to Sabatino’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy took care of my need.  This restaurant is not the kind of place you go for a romantic date, it is the kind of place you go to eat.

Little Italy is a busy neighborhood with enough accents and people who have lived there a lifetime to keep enough flavor.  Sabatino’s vibe is like a large house having an extended family reunion with tables put everywhere.   At the door was “Mr. Sabatino”  (doubt that’s his name but it fits) who seems to know many and greets the others like he knows them anyhow.   Forget the computer, he keeps reservations on a pad of paper and crosses them off with a pencil.

Sabitinos Menu

The wait staff is seasoned, efficient, and although hurried, they really do seem to care – no little kid waitstaff more interested in texting.

Here are our meals.  Caution – these pictures may make you hungry (or jealous).

Sabitinos Italian Bread
Decent Italian bread and nothing pretentious about the butter – you open the wrapper yourself
Sabitinos Clams Casino
Clams Casino

What makes them so good?  Plump juicy clams (Baltimore takes pride in its seafood), prosciutto instead of bacon, and a great presentation on a bed of rock salt.

Sabitinos House Salad
House Salad – iceberg lettuce, radish, carrots, cabbage, black olives, green olives, tomato, and pepperonchini.

What is not shown in the picture is what makes the salad amazing – the cheese-forward (Romano and Parmesan?) tangy house creamy wine vinaigrette.  On a diet?  Oh well.  Can’t tolerate cheese?  Your life sucks.

My main was Pan-Fried Shrimp Parmesan, a generous number of jumbo shrimp dipped in egg batter then perfectly pan fried with melted mozzarella and a thick marinara.  Oh and a side of pasta.  Life is good.

Others with me got Veal Parmesan (on the left) and Shrimp Renato (on the right) which is jumbo shrimp broiled in a wine-brandy sauce with melted mozzarella cheese and prosciutto.  Excellent.

Perhaps a reasonably-priced carafe of House Chianti – of course!  Any good?  It went perfectly well with the food.

Room for desert?  No but we got some anyhow and were happy about it.

My desire was fulfilled…..until next time.