Saggio, Washington Heights – Restaurant Review
Saggio, in Washington Heights, is the best Italian restaurant you haven’t been to.
The food options along 181st Street in Washington Heights have long impressed me. When I first moved to this neighborhood in July 2010, it was admittedly my first time there – I’ll let y’all battle out whether you choose to call this enclave Hudson Heights or not! – and I was simply impressed that there was a Starbucks located on the southeastern corner of my apartment complex! I’d stroll east, south, and north to find new spots to try, but I got excited when I saw the food options multiply outside my front door.
Saggio opened in late 2010, a few months after I planted roots. After a year and a half of traveling downtown for my pasta fixes, I was excited to see a spot open within a three-minute walk!
As indicated in my social media and previous posts, I moved back to this neighborhood in early 2022, just two blocks northeast of my old spot. I truly love this neighborhood and am glad to be back in a place where I can actually feel like part of a community; I love that I can walk north to 190th Street or walk down to 175th Street, see a neighbor, and give a genuine “hello!” because we’ve interacted at one point or another. After two spins on the Upper West Side and four years in Inwood, I never quite got that vibe. And have I ordered in from Saggio in my time back? Oh, many times!
Saggio has a delightful spacious outdoor patio space; in a city full of outdoor dining along the streets, it’s nice to feel secluded form the hustle and bustle, even if I have to give up my favorite pastime of people-watching. (Quel dommage!) Their menu consists of a variety of house-made pastas – boasting their “pasta by hand” outside of their entrance – savory dinner options, indulgent desserts, and inspired drinks.
Saggio – Antipasti
I had one of my favorite content creators, Camille from The Cocktail Snob, as my guest, and we got to experience course after course of their offerings, starting with their ricotta costini topped with figs & honey, burrata, sautéed calamari, and steamed mussels. Mussels can be prepared horribly, to be frank, and I have had my share of bad mussels in New York City. Saggio’s mussels do not fall into that category; they were tender and cooked well without being too fishy, with a complementary white wine, tomato, and garlic broth that enhanced it. The calamari was also top-notch, not a rubbery bite in the bunch! The ricotta crostini was a perfect balance to the seafood appetizers, its milky and light ricotta + honey acting as a great counterbalance. You will never see me turn down burrata, and Saggio always comes through with theirs; their imported Pugliese burrata had that perfect creamy stracciatella, and the beefsteak tomatoes and basil its served with give me the illusion that I’m eating healthy. (Ha!) Well, the fennel salad with arugula, herbs, and parm surely helped me reach my recommended servings of vegetables for that day!
Saggio – Pastas
I was able to try three pasta dishes from them that I had never previously tried: Gnocchi Burro e Salvia, Lasagna Verde, and Tagliatelle Ai Funghi. All three of these are listed under their housemade pasta options. Though I’ve had Saggio’s gnocchi in previous visits – notably with their gorgonzola cream! – this was my first time having it prepared with a simple comforting combination of butter, sage, and parmesan. The Lasagna Verde boasts an earthy green pasta, served with beef bolognese and crisped mozzarella topping. This lasagna – served in an individual-sized long ramekin – holds together well, its noodles sturdy without falling apart like some lasagnas may. Finally, their tagliatelle is amazing, thick and perfectly al dente, and they do not skip on the funghi, for the mushroom lovers out there!
Saggio – Desserts
The night would not be complete without their desserts, and we got to exprerience both the Tartufo – a chocolate & vanilla gelati covered with a crackable dark chocolate shell – and the rich fudgy chocolate cake, served with vanilla gelato thta cut through the cake’s richness and fresh strawberries that added additions tart and juciy notes to round it out beautifully.
Saggio – Cocktails
I could not have asked for a better dining partner than Camille to tackle the cocktails that were slung our way. Perfert for a warm late summer evening, we started with fruity and refreshing options, such as the mezcal-based Consiglio Saggio, the gin-based Il Girasole, and the rum-based Fragola Basicilia. The mid-meal arrival of the meszal-based Anima Nera did not skimp on the habenero and black lava salt, an unexpected spicy and smoky treat.
Saggio’s boasts an impressive housemade limoncello, notable for its 37 day processing time. A little thick, a little sweet, and undeniably lemony, a small glass of this to sip at the end a meal is the way to go and cannot be passed up.
The next person that tells me 181st Street is too far away, I’ll remind them that I’ve lived up here on and off for 13+ years, and the average time from Columbus Cirlce is a mere 20 minutes. Quit yer complainin’ and hop on the express uptown! Saggio is a restaurant worth visiting, whether you live a block, a borough, or a state away.
Note: This was a complemintary meal from Saggio for review purposes, with staff tipped 20+% based on total of items recieved. Thank you to the fine staff at Saggio for a stellar experience! All opinions in this post are my own.