I was very excited for a formal Italian dinner at Salento, finally able to use my Groupon. Only two or so tables were filled when we got there but as the evening progressed, more students entered the restaurant for a BYO and business was soon booming. Clearly, a BYO near a university is not a bad idea.
They first brought out a complimentary basket of bread with a sundried tomato pesto spread. The bread was warm, with a tough, hard crust and a softer middle. It was airy but slightly more dry than I would like, especially in the place between the crust and the dead centre. The tomato pesto spread also had red bell peppers, basil, olive oil, and perhaps a squeeze of lime. It was very delicious, with the mushy tomato base, refreshing basil and olive oil aroma, and made for the best dinner bread accompaniment ever.
We started with an appetizer of Mozzarella. The mozzarella had a good, bouncy texture but was very bland; there was no flavour in it. The grilled vegetables, which included zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, and eggplants, were on the greasy side and a bit bland without the red bell pepper vinaigrette. They were all soft and nicely grilled, though. The red pepper vinaigrette was very tasty, not overly sour or salty but quite refreshing. It was certainly not a generic flavour, and I appreciated it very much with the vegetables.
The daily special of Veal Ravioli was perhaps one of the best raviolis I have ever had. It was served with a light cream truffle sauce that was rich, creamy, and delicious. The ravioli wrappers were red and they were cooked to perfection with the pasta al dente. The ground veal inside was absolutely amazing; the meat was so tender and juicy. It was also ground finely so the texture was slightly creamy. The dish was nicely seasoned and each bite was a soft bite of a heavenly pasta dish.
The Orecchiette Al’anatra was too salty. The duck meat was succulent but slightly tough although not dry. There could have been more in the dish. It was served under a slice of cheese, which melted into the pasta and became lovely and gooey. Poured over top was a thickened, broth-like sauce with some diced vegetables. This was very salty, though, and the saltiness soaked into the duck. The pasta was extremely undercooked though. All the orecchiette stuck together and was still raw in the middle of the little stacks. We pointed this out and got the dish replaced without a fuss.
For our replacement dish, I decided on the Linguini Alla Pugliese. I was craving seafood and was quite satisfied after I ate more than my share of small mussels, extremely tender and chewy calamari, and prawns. The prawns were bouncy and tender and the squid had an incredible texture. There were plenty of calamari rings and mussels, though the mussels were tiny. The zucchini pesto sauce was not overly flavourful but slightly bland. The pesto had an appealing green shade with a consistent texture. The linguini was cooked al dente and coated with the pesto sauce. However, since it was not sauce inside the pasta, I found it a bit bland – I would rather eat filled pastas for this reason.
The service was great at Salento and I can totally imagine the entire restaurant filled with excited students coming for a BYO. The service was great and I appreciated the no-fuss with the replacement of the pasta. Their dishes are generally quite delicious and it is certainly one of the better Italian restaurants I have been to. With the Groupon, it was such a great deal. I would certainly come here, hopefully with a group of friends to ease the stress from school.