Local Eats: Taverna Rossa brings fresh Mediterranean cuisine to Saugatuck
SAUGATUCK, MI – AT Rossa Tavern in Saugatuck, diners can find flavors from all over the Mediterranean.
There’s pasta from Italy, steak frites from France, lamb paidakia from Greece, scallops from Barcelona from Spain, and more. The idea, says owner and chef Chris Perkey, was to broaden the public’s view of what Mediterranean cuisine can be.
So often when people think of the food of the region, they imagine humus and falafel. But there is so much more than that, he says.
“I really wanted to remind people that all of these great countries are also on the Mediterranean, like Greece, Spain, France, Italy,” said Perkey, who also owns Osteria Rossa in Grand Rapids. “These are Mediterranean places, and we really wanted to highlight some of the things about Sardinia and the Mediterranean islands.”
The most popular dish at Taverna Rossa, 129 Griffith St., is Rigatoni Bolognese. It consists of rigatoni noodles and a bolognese sauce made from pulled pork shoulder, Italian sausage, bacon, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, onions and peas. It is then garnished with Parmesan and a little cream. The dish costs $ 24.
“It’s like the best pasta they’ve ever had,” said Perkey, describing the feedback he’s received from customers. “It’s not like American bolognese where it’s ground beef with tomatoes.”
Perkey said the dish had a lot of different textures with the “smoked bacon,” as well as the pulled pork and Italian sausage. “There are just a lot of flavors and a lot of textures,” he said. “I think that’s what really draws people to the dish.”
Another popular dish, Youvetsi shrimp, has Greek origins.
For this dish, the prawns are sautéed with onions and Calabrian peppers, then white wine and San Marzano tomato sauce are added. Then the shrimp are mixed with orzo pasta and green beans are added. It’s put on a plate and topped with crumbled feta cheese.
The restaurant also offers aperitifs.
Squid is popular, Perkey said.
The dish consists of squid tied in rings and tossed in a gluten-free flower. Then they are fried for about 10 seconds. After which, they are sautéed briefly with garlic and pepperoncini peppers. This is then combined with a little lemon juice and arugula.
“This is the best squid I have ever had,” he said.
The tavern is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. His the menu is visible here, and the restaurant can be reached by phone at (269) 455-5725.
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