Jean Le Boeuf | Published Feb. 1, 2018
Sal and his son Alex opened The Saucy Meatball in late November at the corner of Gateway Boulevard and Commerce Lakes
Drive (the road that leads to Fort Myers Brewing Co.).
The front allows the busy business people from nearby Gartner
and Alta Resources to grab a sub or slice or salad during lunch
or on their way home. The back is a place to hang out, sip a glass of wine, and linger over homey
plates of pasta, or those New York-style pizzas with the chewy-thin crusts for which the Basiles are
Meals here should start with fat curls of shrimp in a fra-diavolo sauce bright with spice and the
sweet tang of slivered garlic. The shrimp, while perfect, are almost secondary. That sauce (oh man,
that sauce) is the star, so balanced and wonderful I found myself eating it with a fork long after the
bread was gone.
The Basiles have a way with eggplant, too, slicing
it thin and frying it crisp, then layering it with gooey mozzarella in a towering stack, or placing it atop a
bed of arugula laced with wispy onions, roasted red
peppers, basil, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette.
Each night Saucy Meatball unveils a new list of specials.
That could mean fluffy squares of four-cheese
gnocchi in a braised-lamb ragout crowned by a cloudy
dollop of ricotta (and if it does, call me). Or a perfect
salmon fillet surrounded by lobster ravioli.
Or a luscious mess of specialty lasagna filled with spinach,
more braised lamb and one heck of a vodka sauce all
blushing with cream.
As I scraped that bowl for the last dregs of cannoli
cream, I watched Sal and Alex work the room as only
Basiles can. They smiled, they joked, they charmed.
And their customers ate it up.
How do they do it? Good question. The Basiles know
this business well, sure. But they know their customers even better.