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LOST ITALIAN: Saying farewell to restaurant with its signature sea bass

Sarello’s Signature Sea Bass is prepared along with a citrus sauce, wild rice pilaf and sugar snap peas at Sarello's in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service1 / 2
Sea Bass is prepared along with a citrus sauce, wild rice pilaf and sugar snap peas at Sarello's in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO -- Twenty-three years ago, a young man looked me in the eyes and told me that he'd finally figured out the name for his dream restaurant. And then he said it out loud: Sarello's. It took me a moment before I realized that Tony had combined my first name, Sarah, with his last, Nasello, and it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the love of my life.

A decade later, we opened Sarello's and a few weeks ago we celebrated its 15-year run as a fine-dining restaurant with our Farewell Dinner. I look back on those days leading up to the opening of Sarello's and I marvel at our journey. We were seasoned hospitality professionals. We had traveled the globe together, working as hotel officers aboard luxury cruise ships, and set foot on every continent. We'd saved our money and paid our dues; we were ready. Who are we kidding? We were 30 -- practically babies.

There are moments in life when you just have to leap, and that was what we did. Now, 15 years later, we find ourselves poised to embark on a new journey, and while we may not have the benefit of youth any longer, we are endowed with wisdom and experience as our guides this go-around.

We're ready, once again, to leap.

Since the time we opened our doors, we've welcomed a diversity of guests, including museum curators, bankers, wrestlers, clergy, doctors, farmers, nurses, bikers, publishers, businessmen, lawyers, CEOs, metal workers, dentists, crop dusters, politicians, artists, academics and more. We've been privileged to use our business as a means to support myriad causes and organizations important to us and our community, and we look forward to continuing this commitment as we move forward into new adventures.

A special occasion restaurant from the start, Tony and I have also celebrated life's milestones at Sarello's, from the birth of our son to my parents' 60th birthdays, our 40th birthdays, and even our 20th wedding anniversary.

But the overwhelming memories -- the ones that will linger long into our dotage -- are of the dozens of talented young people who have found their way to us through a calling to hospitality -- our staff, our crew -- our most excellent team. They have been the heartbeat of our business all these years, and many of you know them by name. We are grateful for their excellence and will never forget them.

Over the years, we've served a wide variety of dishes ranging from classic Italian to French, Irish, Caribbean, North and South American and Asian, but there's one dish that has remained on the menu from the first night to the last. Sarello's Signature Sea Bass has been the standout dish for 15 years, and for some of our regular guests, it is the reason they kept coming back.

In our new venture as a culinary events and meeting center, we plan to host "pop-up" nights every so often where we'll feature a limited menu with one signature Sarello's dish, just to satisfy our customers' cravings.

If you're a fan of the sea bass, you'll be pleased to know that it will be the star of the menu for our first pop-up event, which will be on July 22 and 23. For those two nights only, you can come in and enjoy a three-course dinner that includes salad, sea bass and dessert for $50 per person (tax and gratuity are not included). Wine and beer will also be available for purchase. Reservations can be made via phone or email: (218) 287-0238 or dine@sarellos.com.

Tony, Gio and I wish to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of our lives at Sarello's for the past 15 years. What a ride we've had.

Sarello's Signature Sea Bass

Serves 4 to 6
Citrus Beurre Blanc Ingredients
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup (4 ounces) white wine

1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
½ teaspoon salt, increase as desired


Directions
Using a medium sauce pan, combine lemon, lime and orange juices, heavy cream, white wine and honey (or sugar) and reduce over medium heat until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir just to combine.

Reduce heat to low and stir in the butter piece by piece, until sauce appears smooth and silky. Whisk throughout this process to ensure an even temperature. Add salt to taste, starting with ½ teaspoon.

Important: Cooking over low heat will help to ensure that your butter does not clarify, thus breaking your sauce. Once a silky smooth consistency is achieved, use immediately or transfer to another container and keep in a hot water bath on stovetop until ready to use. The water should not be boiling.

Ingredients
4 to 6 8-ounce portions of Chilean Sea Bass, skin removed
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sea bass fillets on a sheet pan. Lightly coat the top side of each fillet with the breadcrumbs, just to cover the surface, pressing lightly to ensure they stay in place. Drizzle the tops with olive oil and salt. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove and transfer to serving plates. Pour the citrus beurre blanc over each fillet and serve.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. Readers can reach them at dine//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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