Sky Restaurant Review
By Rachel Lebeaux: “Sky appeals to a wide target audience, and is a lot of things to a lot of people,” Sky Restaurant’s owner Steve Corcoran explained as we sidled into a plush semicircular booth for a midweek dinner. Sure enough, Sky goes beyond a uniform dining experience: It offers a number of private rooms for special functions, a 100-seat lounge area for more casual meals and drinks — and, oh, yes, a 186-seat grand dining room presided over by a massive indoor waterfall cast against blue peat granite, a captivating feature that had my utmost attention.
Sky Restaurant, set in a former function hall on Route 109 in Norwood, opened in June 2002. The majestic space, its scarlet walls accented by dark mahogany, looks extremely modern, even if Corcoran says it hasn’t been renovated in more than a decade. But unlike the décor, which hasn’t required constant updates, Corcoran and his staff are always seeking new avenues for serving guests: Sunday jazz brunches, comedy shows, and craft-cocktail Fridays with complimentary tastings.
“Even though it’s a big restaurant, there’s a small, local vibe to it,” Corcoran said. “Early in the night, there are a lot of families. People grab cocktails at the bar. There are a lot of corporate functions, weddings and showers.”
Sky’s food also takes on various personalities. Executive Chef Andy DiPace, the restaurant’s chef for the past five years, is also a painter and sculptor, and he brings those aesthetics to his cooking. “When you think of art, and the composition of how you combine things, you [also] think about how you combine ingredients, and how they work together and presentation.” And while much of the food contains familiar ingredients, “we try to do it with new styles and techniques and play around with gastronomy,” he said. “We like to take traditional dishes and make them fun, and get flavor in a unique way.”
Drinks: There are more than 100 bottles on the restaurant’s wine list, but this evening, we focused on cocktails, steered by our gregarious waiter Matthew Graham.
In the Apple Orchard ($12), which features vodka infused with Macintosh, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, the clean flavors far and away trump the sickly-sweet cocktails that often masquerade as “fruity.” Vanilla extract, fresh nutmeg ground over the top and a cinnamon-stick stirrer completed this fragrant, perfect drink. The bright-red Shirley’s Stilettos ($12), based in bourbon, toned down the sugary grenadine nicely. We called it a “manly Shirley Temple,” lemon twist and all.
The baby arugula and pea shoots salad ($9), a delicious tangle of greens, was brightened by radish slices and shaved pecorino romano cheese. Crushed toasted hazelnuts provided a nice crunch, and the light lemon-ginger vinaigrette was a tangy counterpoint to the bitter greens.
The chef’s soup craving ($8) on this evening was roasted miso and roasted eggplant bisque. Dusted with romano powder, the creamy, earthy soup, topped with a smattering of microgreens, exemplified Chef DiPace’s commitment to taking known ingredients and combining them in unexpected ways.
Perhaps nowhere was that effort more evident than in the ahi tuna tartare ($14). Tartare usually brings together layers of avocado mousse and raw tuna, as it does here, but Sky’s version also incorporates tempura crisps into the circular tower, as well as bits of cucumber and carrots and some spicy mayonnaise. “It’s a play on sushi, constructed a different way,” DiPace explained. The tempura inclusion muddled the tuna flavor, in my opinion — I would have preferred the crispy element on the side – but I appreciated the spirit of it. It was also a beautifully constructed dish, the plate encircled by a multi-strand “necklace” of lemon-miso, chive, sweet chili and sweet-soy sauces.
Pizzas: The prosciutto and fig pizza ($13) came topped with mission fig jam, dried fig, tendrils of prosciutto di parma, arugula, a sharp three-cheese blend and aged balsamic reduction. I loved the sweet-and-salty combination, even if it was a little heavy on the fig jam, and that the flatbread was well-sized for the price. Also important: We very much appreciated the better-safe-than-sorry warning related to the ingredients and potential food allergies.
With the apple-bacon-pear flatbread ($13), a crispy, cracker-like crust, charred at the edges, supported loads of aged cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, curbed red squash and an apple sweet-chili sauce While heavy, it wasn’t greasy, and the chili sauce gave it a nice punch.
Entrees: My dining companion zeroed in on the Maine lobster club sandwich ($19), featuring shredded lobster salad, avocado aioli, bacon, lettuce and tomato on buttered and toasted sourdough bread. The lobster itself was fresh and the bread decadent, although too much iceberg lettuce diverted more attention from these elements than I would have liked. The accompanying garlic-butter potato chips were crisp, tasty, and certainly filling.
The pork chop saltimbocca ($25), served on the bone to retain flavor, featured a huge, thinly pounded breaded cutlet encrusted in prosciutto and topped with fresh, bubbly mozzarella cheese, chunky tomato sauce and a sage demiglace. I feared the dish would feel too heavy, especially after a large meal, but it was superbly executed. On the side, gorgonzola mashed potatoes and garlicky spinach complemented the cutlet nicely.
Desserts: Upon asking for recommendations, the Boston cream pie ($8) was the clear choice. The restaurant’s on-site pastry chef presented a whimsical take on a classic dessert, presenting a round cake drenched in dreamy chocolate ganache and accented by white- and milk-chocolate shavings and a sprig of mint.
Assessment: Corcoran was right: Sky Restaurant succeeds in being a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s reasonably priced — check out the website for a range of special events, including holiday dining, kids’ meal deals, $1 oysters, drink tastings and more — and appropriate for both fine dining and more casual lounge meals and get-togethers. If possible, nab a seat near that waterfall — it’s all part of the experience.
Address: 1369 Providence Turnpike Highway, Norwood, MA 02062
Price: Appetizers $2-$14; entrees $12-$32; desserts $3-$10
Hours: Dinner: Mon-Thurs: 4pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat: 4pm-10pm, Sun: 3pm-9pm; Brunch Sun: 10am-2pm
Features: Function spaces and private dining, lounge and dining room with indoor waterfall, full bar, Sunday jazz brunch and buffet, dining deals and entertainment throughout the week
Recommendations: Apple orchard, baby arugula and pea shoots salad, miso and roasted eggplant soup, tuna tartare, prosciutto and fig and apple-bacon-pear flatbreads, pork chop saltimbocca, Boston cream pie
Parking: Parking lot
Payment Options: Major credit cards
Tagged ahi tuna tartare, American cuisine, arugula, Boston Cream Pie, ciabatta, cocktails, executive chef, Executive Chef Andy DiPace, flatbread, Maine lobster club sandwich, Norwood, Pizza, pork chop saltimbocca, Rachel Lebeaux, restaurant, Restaurant Review, salads, Sky Restaurant, Steve Corcoran, Sunday Jazz Brunch, TableCritic Inc, waterfall, wine