By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
Sabore is located on SW 128th Street in Newberry, Florida just a few minutes from my cousins’ home, who both teach at the University of Florida. Before heading to Amelia Island and enjoying Espana, my parents and I spent some time with our family in Gainesville/Newberry where we dined at Sabore, our favorite local spot.
Sabore’s menu is unlike almost any other I’ve seen. The chef’s creativity is unending, which for some restaurants often causes constant changes on the menu. Thankfully, Sabore knows what works and what doesn’t, so the menu items haven’t changed much at all since we first dined there two years ago.
Sabore offers both small and large plates, but their suggested method is to share. And share we did! Since there were six of us dining, we had the opportunity to taste a little bit of everything.
From the raw bar we ordered the ahi tuna tataki: sesame crusted seared ahi tuna with an Asian dipping sauce served with a side of seaweed salad. From the “shareable snacks,” or small plates section of the menu, we ordered the tuna tostone (seared tuna over avocado salad atop plantain crostinis), mole duck tacos (sautéed duck breast in mole poblano sauce served with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and mini flour tortillas), calamari scampi (sautéed calamari in fresh garlic sauce and a white wine reduction), and vieiras bites (fried diver scallops with a kimchi yogurt dipping sauce).
So far so good. All of these dishes were distinctly delicious with tremendous flavor pairings. One thing to note: in the future we will be sure to eat the ahi tuna tataki before eating the tuna tostone. Both tuna dishes were delicious, but the tostone truly blows the tataki out of the water. Eating the tostone first might mean a disappointing tataki experience.
From the shareable entrees list (large plates), we ordered king salmon and mushroom risotto. The king salmon was topped with a strawberry glaze and served over brown rice and avocado salad. The mushroom risotto was made with seasonal mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and truffle oil.
I wasn’t disappointed by a single dish, but if I had to choose my favorite two, I’d pick the tuna tostone and mole duck tacos. The flavors in those two dishes are just too good to give up.
Sabore offers an expansive wine list as well as cocktails, soft drinks, and coffee. During dinner I drank two perfectly crafted lemon drops and after dinner enjoyed a decaf cappuccino, which came with a complementary biscotti.
My 94-year old great aunt calls Sabore the place with the “dancing floors” because the tile in the restaurant contains lava lamp-like liquids that move when people step on the area. To say the ambience of Sabore is funky is an understatement, but it isn’t in-your-face funky. The lighting is dim and the color scheme is dark (too dark to have taken a decent photo) and warm. It’s a fun place to dine, that’s for sure.
The service makes Sabore even more enjoyable. The wait staff is consistently knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive. When one waiter walked by and saw that we had finished the calamari scampi, he happily offered to bring us bread to dip in the sauce. That definitely garnered points from the table immediately, but when he brought us fresh warm focaccia bread, we were sold.
If ever you are in the Gainesville area, Sabore is a must visit. I will certainly be back during my next visit.