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Sofia Italian Steakhouse

Versatility and competence go a long way
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  October 28, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars

0910_sophias_main
HOUSE CALL The beef porterhouse steak, served with superb macaroni and cheese and asparagus, is oversize and excellent all around.

Sofia Italian Steakhouse | 1430 VFW Parkway, West Roxbury | 617.469.2600 | sofiaboston.com | Open Monday–Thursday, 11:30 am–2:30 pm and 5–9:30 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am–2:30 pm and 5–10:30 pm; and Sunday, 11 am–2 pm and 4–9 pm | AE, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | Free parking lot accessible from VFW Parkway northbound or from behind Spring Street Café; free valet parking Saturday night | Street-level access
I have to admit I giggled when I got a press release describing this restaurant as being located in the “white-hot West Roxbury-Dedham dining scene.” After all, the space had already killed a reasonably good steak house, Vintage, after a long closure in which it tried to upscale, then ended up downscaling by adding red-sauce Italian dishes. So now we have an Italian steak house in the same place owned by Greek-American partners. Why is this going to be even lukewarm?

Well, they got the next giggle when I tried to walk in on a weekend night and the place was packed with a 90-minute wait. Coming back on a weeknight with a proper reservation, I found an entirely competent and moderate steak house with some bistro dishes that work, and an Italian menu without house-made pasta (though the macaroni and cheese on a porterhouse steak — don’t laugh out loud — was superb).

Even on a weeknight, the place filled up by eight or so, which shows they are doing some things right. Some of those things jumped out: an iceberg wedge salad ($9) that, with a very decent October tomato and some scattered bacon, was like a deconstructed BLT; a porterhouse steak ($32) with more meat on the fillet side than some fillet mignons you will pay more for downtown; delicious roasted sea scallops ($21) served with real pesto; and a mixed-berry dessert ($7) in a tuile shell with custard.

Food starts well with house-made crusty Italian bread, featuring plenty of holes — the better to pick up a pour of olive oil and a fine white-bean paste. Hearts-of-palm salad ($10) had few pieces of palm, but lots of ripe avocado with goat cheese, and slices of yellow heirloom tomato. Only an arugula salad ($9) was overdressed, and included bits of dried fig that would have been better had they been soaked.

Fried calamari ($9) were as fresh and hot and crisp and mild as any outside Chinatown, though the slices of banana pepper and the sweet-chili dip were nothing new or special. A Caribbean sautéed sea-scallops appetizer ($12) — try saying that 10 times fast — brought fine shellfish, but the Caribbean part was an unfortunate combination of fried plantain (a fairly green, starchy one) and mango chutney. Mangoes grow in the Caribbean; chutney comes from India; people from the Caribbean (even those of Asian-Indian ancestry) don’t put mango chutney on plantains. There is a reason for this. Get your scallops in the above-mentioned dinner entrée instead, which also comes with a fried rice cake with real crabmeat, and a shaved fennel slaw.

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Related: Review: Taam China Glatt Kosher Chinese Cuisine, Bina Osteria, Aspire, More more >
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Culture and Lifestyle, Beverages, Food and Cooking,  More more >
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ARTICLES BY ROBERT NADEAU
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  •   SOFIA ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE  |  October 28, 2009
    I have to admit I giggled when I got a press release describing this restaurant as being located in the “white-hot West Roxbury-Dedham dining scene.” After all, the space had already killed a reasonably good steak house, Vintage, after a long closure in which it tried to upscale, then ended up downscaling by adding red-sauce Italian dishes.
  •   BUBOR CHA CHA  |  October 21, 2009
    I’m not an enthusiast of fusion food, but I do like the cuisine of Malaysia, where history has developed a four-way fusion cuisine.
  •   PUNJAB PALACE  |  October 15, 2009
    Punjab Palace — by the same owners of Kenmore Square’s India Quality — “proves to be the kind of kid brother that would make any older sibling proud,” my colleague MC Slim JB wrote last year. That’s true, but this is also another second-tier Indian restaurant. So why do Slim and I like it so much?
  •   CON SOL  |  October 14, 2009
    Three-year-old ethnic bargain spot Con Sol snuck under reviewers' radar with an Iberian menu that draws mostly on Portuguese-American food — a cuisine that feels native to long-time Cantabrigians, but otherwise is little known north of New Bedford and Fall River or west of Provincetown.
  •   NORTH 26  |  September 30, 2009
    I never call chefs before writing a review, but if I did speak with Brian Flagg of North 26, I'd ask him if Jasper White has ever paid a visit.

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