The long trip I took after the CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis with Jean-Philippe from Focal Loudspeakers found ourselves ending up in Fargo, ND to see our dealer, Arctic Audio. The owner, Rod, is a long time and very supportive dealer for the line and we thought it would be fun to take he and his wife, Ellen, out for dinner. Now, the Fargo/Moorhead area has some pretty interesting places to eat (click here to see a list of area restaurants I've eaten at in the Fargo area.), so it's always a treat to find a new place each time I come to visit. One place that Ellen suggested we go eat was just across the Red River of the North in Moorhead - Sarello's. For nice restaurants in the Fargo area, they've never steered me wrong.
Sarello's is owned and run by Tony Nasello and his wife, Sarah. (The name "Sarello's" is the combination of Sarah's first name and the Nasello surname.) Tony was a native of Toronto, ON and the son of Sicilian immigrants. He got his degree in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts and began to work for corporations such as Disney World and Hilton. He got a job working on a luxury cruise liner for the Holland America company. It was there in the early 1990's that he met Fargo native Sarah Anstett. The two sailed around the world working together on multiple cruises before getting married and deciding to settle down in Sarah's hometown.
(Pictured at right, Tony Nasello - picture courtesy Virtual Tourist.com)
The two had dreamed of opening their own restaurant similar to the type of food and service they provided on the large luxury cruise ships on which they worked. They found a location just behind the Moorhead Center Mall in a building that used to be a little coffee shop and opened their doors in December of 2000. The couple expanded their business in 2003 to include a lounge and wine bar.
Tony refers to himself as "The Lost Italian" and the Nasello's hosted a local radio program for four years that talked about Sicilian and Northern Italian cuisine. Nasello is the head chef at Sarello's and he's helped by station chef's Ben Walker and Chris Marteny.
After a meeting at Rod's store, he, J.P. and I drove across the border to Moorhead. Rod had me take a left on 4th St., then a right into and through a parking ramp, across Center Mall drive and a left into a strip mall behind the mall (see map). Had he not been with me, I surely would have been lost. Ellen was waiting there in the lounge for us and we were seated immediately in the dining room.
The dining room has a number of brightly colored paintings on the wall, each highlighted by direct orb lighting. Recessed can lighting in the middle of the dining room cast a relaxing hue on the tables down below. Each of us were given menus and even though Rod had brought a bottle of wine, I took a look through the wine list because it was evident right off the bat that we would be making short work of the wine he brought.
Sarello's had a special that evening - a halibut filet, grilled and topped with a medley of vegetables and finished with a light cream sauce. Mashed potatoes also came on the side. That sounded good, but Ellen began to tell me about the lobster ravioli - homemade ravioli stuffed with Fontana, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, tossed with lobster meat and scallions in a lobster cream sauce. She didn't have to convince me that the lobster ravioli was probably the best thing on the menu.
They also had a classic beef tenderloin filet mignon on the menu, as well as a pork rib-eye chop. They also had a parmesan and pepper walleye entree, as well as a seared Mediterranean salmon with a roasted red pepper and artichoke sauce, and their signature sea bass dinner that was cooked with a citrus white butter sauce. But Ellen had me sold on the lobster ravioli. She and I both ordered that, while J.P. took the halibut special and Rod got the parmesan and pepper walleye.
We each had ordered appetizers - I ordered a cup of the wild mushroom soup (below left). The soup had a light cream/butter taste to the broth with bits of pureed mushrooms throughout. It was actually pretty damn good. J.P. ordered the red curry scallops, only the waiter came back and said that they were out of scallops and could substitute shrimp instead. He took that instead. I would have been able to show you the shrimp a spicy red cream curry sauce with sliced carrots, mushrooms and snap peas, but the picture I took didn't turn out. He said his was also very good.
Rod had an order of the Sicilian Arencini balls (above right) - deep fried balls of risotto, ground beef, peas and parmesan cheese, with a red pepper and artichoke puree, caramelized onions on top of the Arencini balls and finished with a couple small pools of saffron, lemon and garlic aioli.
Ellen got one of the salad specials that evening - the beet carpaccio salad that featured thinly sliced sweet red beets topped with sliced avocados, chopped walnuts, fresh greens, crumbled blue cheese, and then finished with a red wine and honey gorgonzola vinaigrette. She said it tasted as wonderful as it looked.
As I suspected, we made quick work of the bottle of wine that Rod brought along, so I took a look at the wine list again and found a nice bottle of the Ramey 2008 Cabernet. Even though we were all having seafood for dinner, we all agreed that we needed to stay with the red wine.
Our meals came out not long afterward and we were ready to eat. J.P.'s halibut (below left) was a lightly grilled filet sitting in a pool of a light cream sauce and topped with a myriad of cooked veggies. A tower of mashed potatoes sat next to the fish and veggies.
Rod's walleye was encrusted in a mixture of parmesan cheese, Japanese panko bread crumbs and black pepper and pan-fried. It was topped with a lemon garlic aioli sauce. I'm not big on breaded fish, but this looked pretty good. Rod confirmed that it was "excellent".
But Ellen and I thought we got the best deal of the evening - the lobster ravioli was just a slice of heaven. There were about eight large pillows of homemade ravioli stuffed with cheese laying in a shallow bowl and topped with chunks of lobster meat, scallions and fresh parsley. The cream sauce was light and delectable. It was a wonderful and scrumptious meal.
J.P. ate a good portion of his halibut, but left a lot of the veggies. I asked him if his meal was all right and he said, "Oh, yes. It's wonderful. I'm just still full from the lunch we had in Chicago (we'd flown in that afternoon) and the shrimp were so filling. I'm trying to concentrate on finishing the fish."
Tony Nasello came out to greet us and ask how our dinners were. I couldn't lie - the lobster ravioli was outstanding. Everything about Sarello's was outstanding, from the service, to the food, to the wine selection, even the atmosphere in the restaurant. Rod and Ellen did it again, they turned me on to another great restaurant in the Fargo area.
We didn't finish up until after 10:30 and we felt pretty bad for the people in the place since they closed at 9:00 p.m. (Sarello's closes at 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and is closed Sunday and Monday.) We apologized to the waiter for keeping him so late and he said, "Aw, it was fun. I don't mind when I'm dealing with fun people." He got a nice tip and I offered to buy him a drink after we paid. He heartily accepted.
Sarello's was a very pleasant surprise and it's another restaurant in the Fargo area that is just outstanding. It's sort of tough to find, but the end result is worth it. I'm still amazed at how many good to great restaurants there are around Fargo. It's no wonder I really enjoy going to Fargo.
(Update - I found out from my dealer and his wife that the Nasello's felt the restaurant was taking too much time away from raising their family and they have closed Sarello's. Tony Nasello still has his radio show and they also continue to do catering work. Sad - this was a great place to eat.)