Skappo, located at 59 Crowne Street in New Haven, CT, is a treasure trove of Italian delicacies, wine, culture, and camaraderie. It is truly a family affair, owned and run entirely by the Sincavage family. However, don't mistake Skappo for a run-of-the-mill family-owned Italian restaurant. It is truly a find.
Upon entry, you are led into the cozy, dark wood panelled room, which is reminiscent of an authentic Italian trattoria (designed by father, Thomas Sincavage). The restaurant is small, but holds two long tables which have community seating (meaning your group may be seated next to another party---all the more fun), and has a few other smaller tables for two, if you are looking for a romantic evening out. Daughter Yvette, who serves as hostess, waitress, and most importantly, baker and pastry chef, explains the menu and makes wine suggestions. Per her suggestion, our group started with a delicious red wine from the Umbria region of Italy. Yvette's older brother, Michael, also manages the front of the house, as well as being responsible for choosing wines for the all-Italian list.
Mother Anna, and youngest son, Marc, run the kitchen, which turns out a wide variety of "small plates", similar to tapas, which are meant to be shared. There are many selections within each of the following categories: salumni e formaggi (cured meats and cheeses), crostini, vegetali (vegetarian dishes), to carne e pesce (meat and fish dishes), and of course, dolcetti (sweets). We began round one with five dishes including a fresh mozzarella, black truffle and mushroom crostini on walnut bread (unusually delicious!), and moist spinach meatballs in a sweet raisin sauce (again, unusually delicious!). After the first bottle of wine was finished and the plates were all but wiped clean with Yvette's homemade bread, we were ready for round two.
We unanimously agreed that second servings of the crostini and meatballs were in order. We also tried a dish featuring wild boar (an Italian specialty, similar to pork but slightly more gamey), and over-sized, pillowy ricotta & sun dried tomato gnocchi topped with arugula pesto. Everything on the menu was as exciting to eat, yet somehow simple and authentic, like all real Italian food.
Mid-meal, Anna emerged from the kitchen and lit up the dining room with her cheerful presence. She doled out two-cheeked "Italian" kisses to everyone in the restaurant, whether she knew them or it was their first visit (as it was mine). We talked about the food, Italy, and how she decided to name her children. She and her family make everyone feel at home at Skappo. The food is amazingly delicious, but wonderfully un-fussy. It is true, down-to-earth Italian food, but unlike anything you've ever tasted.
By the end of the meal, everyone in our group was pleasantly full, but we all agreed to make room for dessert. The chocolate "salami"---a concoction of bittersweet chocolate, raisins and nuts, rolled into a log resembling a salami --- was rich and sweet, and a perfect ending to a satisfying meal. Together with our cappuccini (a common American mistake we didn't mind making---true Italians would never drink cappuccino after dinner!), our meal was wonderfully complete. Skappo is definitely worth a visit----or several! I know I'll be heading back very soon!
For more info about hours, special events, and/or Skappo's menu, go to http://www.skappo.com/