One of the best things about Saratoga is the restaurant scene. I don’t believe there’s another small city in the United States that can offer such a diversity of cuisines to what is (except during the track season) a relatively small population. From the best fine dining options to convenient and delicious Oboys (formerly Doughboys) to an authentic Jewish deli and traditional Irish pub fare (not to mention two Indian restaurants), Saratoga has it all.
Well, add one more to the list as Solevo Kitchen + Social opened today (Friday, September 21), at the corner of Phila and Henry Streets in Downtown Saratoga. The newly opened restaurant is part of the brand-new Spencer Condominiums complex (built by the award-winning Bonacio Construction), and will focus on authentic, made-from-scratch cooking, with house-made pastas and fresh red sauce. I’m a huge fan of Italian food (as a vegetarian, it offers a lot of options), and on the menu are such classics as shrimp scampi with wild gulf shrimp and butter poached lobster ravioli, as well as some more unusual items such as eggplant chips (delicious!) and Italian egg rolls. And I have to mention the massive wine list and deliciously creative cocktail selections (try the Rye Paloma [rye, grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters, basil and sea salt]; you’ll thank me later).
Opened by Chef Ronald Solevo and his sister, Giovannina, who will be running front-of-house, the sibling-duo didn’t just grow up in Italian eateries; red sauce is pretty much in their blood. “Our grandparents and great grandparents were all southern Italian immigrants, and in our big, huge Italian family, there were a bunch of different restaurants and bars, and importing stores,” says Ronald. “Our parents are both chefs, and we grew up in their restaurants.” Though originally from Brandford, CT, the Solevo family has been coming to enjoy the Saratoga summers for generations. In fact, Ronald hasn’t missed one since he was born. “Saratoga has been our second home forever,” he says. “And this was always the family dream, to open up a restaurant in Downtown Saratoga.”
Today at a little past 3pm, the dream officially came true when Ronald and Giovannina cut the ribbon to Solevo Kitchen + Social. About two dozen people were there to witness the opening and enjoy the free open house that followed from 4-7pm, featuring complimentary wines and tasty samples from the menu. (The restaurant is not taking any food orders tonight [drinks only], but will have a limited soft opening/private event on Saturday and be open for full dinner service starting at 4pm on Sunday.)
Both Ronald and Giovannina have already worked in most areas of the restaurant industry: kitchen, front-of-house, wine sales; they even ran the family restaurant for five years, Campania Ristorante & Taverna (Campania is also the region in Italy their family is from), before selling it to a longtime customer in January of last year. For Ronald and Giovannina, it may have been difficult to sell the family restaurant, but it was that decision (and the capital from it) that allowed the siblings to open up Solevo Kitchen + Social in Saratoga so soon afterwards. Who says dreams don’t come true (and in your 30s no less)?
As for how Solevo Kitchen + Social is going to set itself apart from the already great selection of Italian restaurants in town, Ronald and Giovannina have already thought of that. “There’s a little bit of that old school, red-sauce joint missing up here in Saratoga,” Ronald says. “We wanna bring some of that downstate, New York City vibe up here.”
I can tell you this much, after trying some fresh eggplant chips (delectable—I could eat a whole plate!) with a cool glass of Italian rosé, I know I’ll be back this Sunday to get a full meal at Solevo Kitchen + Social.