Sage serves up Italian cuisine at its finest

2014-05-22T01:00:00Z 2014-05-22T14:18:08Z Sage serves up Italian cuisine at its finestEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com nwitimes.com
May 22, 2014 1:00 am  • 

Fresh, quality ingredients, innovative preparations and a chef-driven menu star at Sage Restaurant in Chesterton.

The restaurant, owned by executive chef Joe Gaal, opened three years ago. Its menu features a variety of American/Italian offerings from specialty salads and pizzas to homemade pasta, seafood, risotto, sandwiches, flatbreads, cheese selections, innovative desserts and more.

"We want to continue bringing a quality product to people," said Gaal, adding he strives to offer recipes that stand out and are different from other restaurants.

"We also make our own pasta and bread here," he said. Among longtime favorite menu items are the Braised Short Rib Ravioli and Chicken Marsala.

Gaal stressed he puts a lot of detail and care into creating his recipes.

"We respect the ingredients that we're using. And I use cooking techniques to match what I'm making here," he said. Gaal called his style "simple" but with great attention to presentation and flavor.

During a recent Sunday lunch at Sage, we tried a variety of items from the Chef's Tasting Menu. Items included in the tasting that afternoon were Beet Salad ($7); Caesar Salad ($7); Scallops ($24); Braised Short Rib Ravioli ($17); Chicken Marsala ($16) and Ricotta Gnocchi ($16).

While all of Gaal's recipes truly stand out in the flavor department, extra high raves went to the chicken Marsala and short rib ravioli. The chicken, thinly sliced, was extremely tender and was served over ravioli. The Marsala cream sauce proved sweet while the mushrooms and cheese ravioli added more depth of flavor to the dish.

The short rib ravioli also proved a winner for multi-layered flavor and a rich red sauce.

Other menu items at Sage include Arancini, ($8) which are deep fried risotto balls; Sausage Tagliatelle ($15); Tuscan Chicken Alfredo ($16); Seafood Pasta ($19); Stuffed Veal ($23) and Pork Medallions ($18).

Gaal said he changes his menu seasonally and always has a risotto, pasta and fish of the day.

In addition to a lunch and dinner menu, Gaal also offers Sage After Dark on Fridays. During Sage After Dark, diners may enjoy cocktails, a small plate menu and live music. Sunday Brunch is also featured from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The chef frequently offers cooking classes and other events at the eatery. Among upcoming cooking classes are Summer Grilling ($50 per person) at 6 p.m. June 9 and All Things Smoked ($50 per person) at 6 p.m. July 14. Gaal presides over the interactive classes.

Diners looking for a superb menu that's out of the ordinary won't be disappointed with Sage's offerings or its casual yet elegant setting.

FYI: Sage Restaurant is located at 425 Sand Creek Drive, Suite B, in Chesterton. Call (219) 926-6500 for reservations, information on cooking classes and other details. Restaurant hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Visit sagerestaurant.net

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