Stephen and I recently dined at Sola with some friends on a Friday night. I was very excited to try it as I’ve heard great things from other people. I’m happy to say, it did not disappoint! When you walk in, it feels like you’ve entered someone’s home, and I’m not just talking about the coziness of the space with the dimmed lights and comfortable seating. The owner, Tigran Khachaturyan, who goes by Tig for short, makes everyone feel like you just stepped into his personal dining room. I imagine that was his intention. There was a buzz in the air with everyone interacting, and Tig himself constantly coming by to check on his tables, ensuring we were all having a fabulous time.
I have to preface this review with the fact that we were enjoying ourselves so much, I forgot to take a picture of our appetizer and dessert, and I almost forgot to take photos of the main attraction, our entrees. Guess that’s a good sign, right? To start, we all shared a cheese board. Granted, it was similar to other cheese boards, with your choice of cheeses and sliced deli meats like salami and prosciutto. They also added house-made pickles, which were a nice touch. But I would like to highlight one of the cheeses we tried. Their house-made Burrata, an Italian mozzarella cheese made from creamy cow’s milk, was so yummy. It’s topped with fresh sliced tomatoes and basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was a nice departure from your typical cheeses featured on menus. We were fighting over the last bite. I think I’ll be getting that as a stand-alone appetizer next time!
I love fresh fish, and I’m lucky to get a lot of it here in St Pete. I’ve had Branzino (whole fish style) several places, but Sola’s Branzino dish was hands-down the most flavorful I’ve found so far. It’s prepared grilled and seasoned with lemon, capers, and a parsley sauce. The seemingly simple nature of this dish really makes the fish stand out. Every bite was excellent and reminded me why a good fish entree is hard to find. As for the vegetables that accompanied the dish, it’s served with sauteed spinach and rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes. Sometimes the side dishes at places can almost seem like “throwaways,” but not here. I especially enjoyed the potatoes. You might expect to be served rice, as that is a very typical addition to fish, but the potatoes were a nice surprise. They had a rich, buttery flavor, with the earthiness of the rosemary coming through nicely.
For Stephen, he ordered the Rabbit Cacciatore. He’d never tried rabbit before, but was feeling adventurous enough to give it a whirl. He was very impressed! The dish is served with roma tomatoes, garlic, onion, mushrooms, olives, red wine, and a serving of polenta on the side. As you can see from the photo below, it looks divine. The flavor profile was big and bold, and very rich. Be prepared to eat around the bones, but it’s well worth it. It was so hearty, he had a hard time finishing. Somehow he managed to pull through! We finished the meal by all sharing creme brulee. A stand-by dessert for me, being gluten-free. It was heavenly . . . and gone too quickly for me to snap a photo!
After we finished our meal, the chef came out to see how we liked it. You could tell he was passionate about his creations and just like Tig, was eager to hear of our satisfaction. That’s what I love most about dining in local spots. If they’re doing it right, you get to experience the passion and love that the owners and chefs are putting into their food, along with the welcoming environment that makes you feel like you’re entering someone’s home.
And at Sola, they’re doing it right.
See the Sola Bistro & Wine Bar Listing in our St. Petersburg Restaurant Guide. Do your own ratings & review - click here.
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