Monday, January 08, 2007

Sammy's - North 3rd Street, Harrisburg

502 North 3rd Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

I think Sammy’s sets the standard for BYOB restaurants in Harrisburg. The food is outstanding and really worth celebrating with a good bottle of wine. You can afford a really special meal without breaking the bank.

The North 3rd Street location is right across the street from the state Capitol building – what a view! It’s not 2nd Street’s Restaurant Row, but close enough to walk, although I will caution that parking is a premium. A number of spots on nearby State Street are reserved 24/7 for area businesses. Too bad you can’t park there after business hours. But, Sammy’s is worth the walk.

My friends decided to skip the appetizers, focus on the meal and save room for dessert. Sammy’s has a gigantic menu. There are specials posted on a board, a special printed menu under the glass on the tables and then the regular menu. The choices are reasonably priced. You get LOTS of food for the money.

Among my friends we ordered the special Steak Napoleon. The beef is marinated in garlic oil and prepared with a rosemary, red wine sauce with mushrooms served over mashed potatoes. This dish is best described as a tribute to steak lovers. Delicious!

Another meal was the Zuppa di Pesce. It included the fish of the day, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and calamari served in a marinara basil sauce over linguine. My friend who ordered it described it as “lots of things in shells.” The marinara sauce was smooth and didn’t have a biting “acidy” taste that tomato sauces sometimes have. Very enjoyable.

Another friend ordered the Smoked Salmon special with sun-dried tomatoes in a brandy cream sauce served over penne pasta. The smoky taste was prominent. She said, “It smells like a campfire.” She really liked it.

The last dish was Shrimp with Mushrooms and Escarole served with garlic oil and herbs over linguine – another delicious special.

The wine we shared was a Rosemount Estate South Eastern Australia Shiraz Grenache blend, 2004. This inexpensive wine ($12.99 at the PA Wine & Spirits Shoppe) was light but flavorful. Everyone agreed it was a good match with each dinner.

A couple of us did save room for dessert. The Tiramisu was delicious and very “mocha-y.” The Crème de Caramel was very creamy and custardy with excellent flavor. I would go back to Sammy’s just for dessert sometime. It is hard to really appreciate a good sweet treat when you are so full from dinner.

The generous portions at Sammy’s are notable along with its very fast, courteous service. Our server was very friendly and spoke very highly about the restaurant. He remarked that it was the “cleanest restaurant in town.” In his 20 + years in the restaurant biz, he has never seen such attention to details.

All of my friends enjoyed their dinner. Everyone took a doggie bag home for lunch the next day, and everyone plans to go back to Sammy’s sometime soon. Sammy’s is an excellent example of why BYOB is so much fun.