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DINING: Ristorante di Mare – Summer menu is something special

Over the last couple of years, our reviews of Ristorante di Mare have tended to neglect this South Beach bistro’s specialty – Mediterranean cuisine from the French and Italian Rivieras.

Sure, we continued to visit di Mare. But we couldn’t resist writing about its Wild Game Mondays and its Polish nights – two dining experiences unique to Vero.

Last week, we decided it finally was time to get back to basics. And the basics at Ristorante di Mare proved mighty good.

Arriving at 7:30, our party of three was seated at a pleasant table by the front window, and our server brought a plate of bruschetta topped with chopped tomato and basil.

For starters, we shared two of the evening’s featured appetizers. We couldn’t, needless to say, pass up the pierogies ($12) – one of the big Polish night attractions – and we also ordered the Maryland blue crab stuffed ravioli ($14).

The pierogies, hand-made Polish dumplings stuffed with mashed potatoes and farmer cheese, are served here with something resembling a carbonara sauce that may be even better than the traditional sour cream. Delicious. But the blue crab ravioli, topped with a lobster cream sauce, was, if anything, more sinful.

We followed that with a salad course. I chose di Mare’s mixed green salad, and my husband and our companion both opted for Caesars. A very nice interlude after the very rich appetizers.

At that point, we went in two different directions. I chose one of the evening’s featured entrées, the yellow tail snapper ($31), while my husband and our companion decided to sample di Mare’s special summer menu for two ($49), which included the salad (you can have a cup of soup instead), a choice of five entrées, and a bottle of house wine.

From the entrées, my husband picked the fresh fish of the day, triggerfish, and our companion went for the eggplant parmesan. The other summer dining options were veal picatta, shrimp fra diavolo, or penne a la vodka with chicken.

My yellow tail snapper was a beautiful piece of this flaky mild fish, topped with a lobster cream sauce and served with angel hair pasta and veggies.

But my husband’s triggerfish – part of the very reasonably priced summer menu – was at least the equal of the more expensive snapper. This is a great bargain! The triggerfish filet was topped with a lemon beurre blanc, and accompanied by rice and a vegetable medley. Our companion’s eggplant parm was a nice rendition of this dish, with a light marinara sauce, mozzarella and, of course, parmesan cheese.

For dessert, we shared a slice of a grand marnier cheesecake (not included in the summer special). Very light and tasty.

The summer specials are served all evening – no absurdly early cut-off here – and are an excellent dining value.

Our sense is a lot of good things are going on at di Mare, which seems to be emphasizing its French culinary roots more than its Italian. If you haven’t been there recently, try the summer menu. And if you don’t want to be hooked, stay away from the pierogies

I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at tina@verobeach32963.com.

The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.

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