Nestled inside a stand-alone house in Jbeil, Sapori e Vini is Lebanon's latest Italian restaurant. Welcoming guests in a very pleasant and fresh atmosphere which takes you on a journey to Italy and back. Italian vibes, Italian music and an Italian chef who has been cooking around the furnaces of the world for the last forty years or so. Enter into a wide space where blue, violet and green combine together artistically and draw a smile on your face the minute the door opens.
It starts even before going in... white gravel, black metal, white walls, violet flowers and several seating spaces surrounding a beautiful house. I was feeling it, a special trattoria has opened in Jbeil.
We were welcomed by a member of staff who is local, young and amiable, and with a smile on their face showed us to our table. I took the time to enjoy the premises and every detail that make this restaurant a unique space to have lunch or dinner at. Wooden tables on which a bottle of oil and another of balsamic add some life to the environment. A bunch of white flowers, a metal pot for the napkins.
The menu has a bit of everything. Antipasti, soups, salads, primi piatti, pizza, secondi piatti, desserts and drinks. Garlic is kind of everywhere, if you're allergic make sure to mention it. I ordered a pizza, a risotto, two pastas without garlic and a fried appetizer.
- Loved the pizza! A thin Napolitan dough with a thick crust. Very thin yet not soggy and a crust offering a light crunch with a heart. Topped with mozzarella and salami slices, the Diavola gives an equilibrium of spiciness and smoothness combined. The tomato sauce on the other hand is adequately acidic, intense and fresh at the same time. Two thumbs up for the pizza chef.
- The mixed fried calamari with shrimp and fried vegetables. A generously loaded plate of several colors, non oily seafood with a light crunch and a moist heart. Calamari rings, zucchini fingers, shrimp rolls and eggplant fingers. The plate is served with a quarter lemon and a mayonnaise aioli sauce on the side.
- Wild porcini mushroom risotto served on a very wide plate. A loaded portion, beautifully presented with light crunches of onions and soft bits of mushroom. Delicious risotto clearly prepared by an Italian chef. I enjoyed it so much; make sure to grind some pepper on top before indulging in this Italian creation.
- The seafood Paccheri is to die for... I had one as good in Roma last week, cooked al dente and mixed with a rich and acidic tomato sauce you will surely enjoy! Bravo chef and thank you for sharing all this love with your customers.
- Loved how the tagliatelle is homemade by the chef and topped with a ragout of minced meat ready to be decorated with parmesan. It's waw! Really really waw, exactly like the Paccheri, the pasta at Sapori e Vini is really to die for. I felt transported, like having lunch in Italy for a day!
- Oh My Goodness... the chef made my day, preparing for me a spaghetti carbonara that's not on the menu. A unique carbonara prepared the professional way without any cream only using egg yolk. Spaghetti cooked al dente mixed with butter and bacon pan fried to perfection... a superb experience starts when fresh aromas caressing your nostrils while the sauce prepares to activate your palatal buds. This no-cream carbonara is one of the best I've had in town which will make me want to visit this restaurant again. It was an honor for me to meet the chef and we even planned a tour together around Lebanon's greatest hidden food gems.
Best for last, the non-alcoholic traditional tiramisu, a multi-layered cup of madness. Soaked cake layers interlaced with cream and topped with powdered chocolate. A recommended way to end your memorable meal.
Loved it and was not expecting to leave so impressed. Recommended all the way, I'll come back with my family really soon!