Sofia Italian Steakhouse

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

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 | | 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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