Somewhere between stuffy formality and chain familiarity is where you’ll find Pagelli’s Rustic Italian Grill. With its inviting location by the water at Coconut Point, this Italian eatery stands out for quality and authenticity. If you haven’t been to Pagelli’s for a while, it’s time to give the Tuscan grille another try. The new Executive Chef, Justin Fleming, is launching a revamped menu this month, adding 11 appetizers, four fish dishes, meat and cheese boards and homemade pasta. “We’re making everything from scratch,” says Fleming.
“It’s concentrating on the old school, traditional stuff. This is Old World-style cooking. All the sauces are handmade. Everything is cooked to order.” You won’t be eating boxed pasta products. Pagelli’s recently purchased some 50-year-old pasta machines from Italy to make everything from ravioli to tortellini and gnocchi. “This is as close to handmade as you can get,” Fleming says.
Although Pagelli’s has been known for its outdoor entertainment (shared with neighboring Hemingway’s), Fleming no longer wants the singers to take the spotlight. The true star of the Pagelli’s experience is the authentic Italian cuisine. “We’re focusing on artisanal ingredients, presented in a simple manner,” he says. “We want to be a quality place to eat that’s not pretentious. I want kids eating pizza sitting next to people eating stinky cheese (gorgonzola) and drinking wine.” Live entertainment is still on the docket for Friday and Saturday nights, and the Pagelli’s large outdoor patio is perfect for tapping your toes while overlooking the water features and walkways.
Inside, the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing, inviting intimate conversations. For a truly unique experience, try Pagelli’s four-course Wine Dinner the last Wednesday of the month. Fleming fixes a dazzling array of daring dishes not found on the regular menu, perfectly paired with vino.
01. STARTERS/ BRUSCHETTA FLATBREAD
There’s something incredibly sweet about Pagelli’s bruschetta, which makes it stand out as a crowd pleaser. The tomatoes, garlic, herbs and Italian cheeses top a crusty bread, dribbled with balsamic vinegar. Also try the Margherita Pizza as a starter or entree. It’s especially kid-friendly with its tasty cheese blend and fresh basil.
02. INSALATA/ TUSCAN WEDGE
Pagelli’s offers one of the most flavorful wedge salads around. This lovely dish features a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with crumbled gorgonzola, bruschetta mix and crispy prosciutto, all drizzled with creamy parmesan dressing and balsamic glaze. Salad lovers also should try one of Pagelli’s Artisan Chop Salads. The Pagelli’s Chop features a tasty blend of everything on the Wedge, with the addition of ham, eggs and artisan chips.
03. PASTA/ SAUSAGE RIGATONI
A rich, creamy sauce slathers the homemade jumbo tube pasta, bringing plenty of buttery goodness to this savory dish, made with Italian sausage, Romano cheese and sweet peas. Pasta fans also must try the Gnocchi Alla Vodka, a true treat for the taste buds. The tantalizing sauce for this seared potato pasta is a blend of garlic butter, vodka, pomodoro and alfredo.
04. ENTREE/ ANGUS TENDERLOIN
New on the menu, this seven-ounce tenderloin filet is seared with a beautiful pink center, then drizzled with gorgonzola brandy demi-glace for a sophisticated taste. It’s not what you expect from an Italian eatery, but Pagelli’s has managed to rival a steakhouse. For those wanting to stay closer to traditional Italian cuisine, try one of Pagelli’s many veal dishes. The Veal Saltimbocca (literally translated: “jumps in the mouth”) stars scallopini atop a savory mountain of garlic mashed potatoes and topped with fresh sage.
05. CARNE/ PAGELLI’S PORK CHOP
Another addition to the Pagelli’s menu, this ample pork chop is seared to perfection and served with sautéed onions and potato wedges. For a lighter dinner, try one of Pagelli’s new seafood dishes: Mahi with Ratatouille, Salmon (with capers and broccoli crowns) or Pan-Crusted Flounder.