SANTA ROSA BEACH — I am only home for a few weeks between semesters at Auburn University and one of my favorite things about being home is the ability to cook with my family.
We rarely eat out while I am home because I always come ready with a list of recipes I want to try that consist of dishes that I would prefer to have supervision with as a college chef.
My one exception to this staying-home-to-eat rule is Borago’s in Grayton Beach. The restaurant is low-key and friendly, we recognize the staff and normally run into friends and neighbors there.
Not to mention, the food is phenomenal.
As a picky eater — a pescetarian with food allergies — I always feel safe with the quality of the food since I prefer to eat only wild-caught seafood and organic vegetables.
The classic Trattoria restaurant encourages several courses and Borago’s menu follows this example.
The appetizers include pan seared scallops with a soft cheese polenta and a roasted tomato butter sauce; wild mushroom ravioli with shiitakes, portabellas, and a porcini mushroom broth and number one tuna, seared rare with arugula, fried capers, shaved parmesan and a spicy mustard sauce.
The first basket of focaccia bread is complimentary. It is homemade and served with parmesan, cracked pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My parents and I finished two baskets. The bread is very fresh and simple, delicious, but not overpowering.
Borago offers three salads – a classic Caesar, mixed greens with Roma tomatoes, fontina cheese and roasted shallot vinaigrette and finally an arugula salad with Gorgonzola cheese, toasted walnuts, lemon and olive oil.
My entrée came from the “Primi” section and was a penne pasta dish with scallops, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, portabella mushrooms and herbed goat cheese. The dish also includes a slightly spicy marinara sauce.
The portion size was perfect and the dish was very filling. All of the tastes came together seamlessly, the spicy red sauce, sweet onions, delicate goat cheese – it was world class. The jumbo-sized scallops were expertly cooked, light and fluffy.
My father’s entrée came from the “Secondi” section and was grouper “Niçoise” with artichokes, calamata olives, tomatoes, haricot verts, whipped potatoes and a white wine butter sauce.
My mother’s entrée, also a “Secondi,” was the creamy seafood fricassee with shrimp, scallops, lump crab, corn and leeks over soft cheese polenta.
Other possible entrées include grilled salmon, roasted eggplant lasagna, grilled filet, chicken or veal piccata and balsamic glazed pork tenderloin.
While I was too full this time around for anything sweet, from my past eating experiences I recommend the tiramisu.
The Trattoria-style restaurant has a small, intimate seating about 80 people inside, with additional capacity for 17 at the bar.
One of my favorite things about Borago is you are unlikely to hear other patron’s conversations. Outdoor seating allows for 30 more. The restaurant has a casual, family-like feel, but most customers are dressed in a business-casual style.
The owners Michael Dragon and Mark Anton are also the head chefs.
The owners handle and inspect the food daily, setting high expectations for the quality of the ingredients served. The pair are also very sensitive to allergies and flexible with dietary issues.
I do not eat red meat and substituted scallops for sausage in my entrée without problem. I recommend the server Chris, he was very knowledgeable and friendly.
A final taste
Borago has an impressive wine and beer list. My mother enjoyed a glass of Paul Hobbs Felino Melbec. The specialty martini is the Bellini. The coffee is local sourced from Amavida.
I consider Borago to offer the best food along 30A, with an unpretentious setting.
80 East County Highway 30A
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Open at 6 p.m. for dinner
Open seven days a week March – November
Open Monday – Saturday in January and February
Check website or call (850) 231-9167 for holiday hours.
Antipasti – $8 - $14
Insalata – $8 - $10
Primi – $15 - $22
Secondi $24 - $35