By lindamakowsky March 18, 2011

(2011) The Italian restaurant Galileo in Burns Court has opened a sidekick called Retropolitan in the Mission-style cottage next door. They call it a gastro pub, but it’s more a casual purveyor of Southern favorites, with an agreeable but modest wine and beer list and a dessert menu inherited from its parent. It also offers a petite but welcoming patio for al fresco dining.

In relying on comfort food with a traditional Southern accent, Retropolitan both lives up to the retro part of its name and embodies a trend we’ve been following in recent months. Restaurants have been retrenching in an iffy economy and embracing the tried and true when designing or redesigning their menus.

Retropolitan kicks off its homey menu with a complimentary cone of warm potato chips and a housemade sour-cream-based onion dip with actual bits of caramelized onion. Addictive! We munched them happily on a recent visit as we selected wines by the glass and remarked on the presence of dishes we haven’t seen on a restaurant menu in a long time, like fried chicken livers, a treat from my childhood. The straight-up version served here is an appetizer ($6) and every bit the guilty pleasure it should be. The same is true of the yummy, crisp sweet potato pancake (also $6) that Colette dispatched with considerable relish.

What could be more Southern and traditional than fried chicken? Retropolitan’s essay in the form ($14) comes to table with a nice crust but not a great one, and for this staple an evenly browned crust is key. The chicken inside was fresh and moist, however, which went a long way toward redeeming the offering. The problem with crust resurfaced in a side dish of fried green tomatoes, which can’t be considered a success without a mouthwatering crumb coating. Still, the tomatoes themselves were tasty, and another side of watermelon with mint and feta was nothing short of sublime.

A more coherent combo was the Memphis-style pulled pork platter ($14), which featured tender slow-cooked pork so smoky good that it needed not a drop of sauce to bring out its full rich savor. The onion rings that shared the plate were heavenly, sweet and moist inside a very fine breading. The collard greens that came along for the ride were fresh and perfect.

The dessert menu shines. Colette cooed over a gorgeous cashew caramel gelato while I dug into a crisp and rich but not overly sweet cannoli (both $6.50). They were just right and sent us out the door happy.

Retropolitan Grill

437 Burns Court, Sarasota

Information (reservations not accepted): (941) 362-0627

Bar: beer and wine

Hours: dinner 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Cards: VISA, MC, AmEx

Handicapped accessible: no

Parking: on street


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