I didn't get around to visiting until late October.
It was worth the wait.
Sugo strives to emphasize modern with its menu, its decor and even the music. The Black Keys and Arcade Fire were among bands that could be heard piping out over the speakers (but not too loud) on a recent visit. The room is cozy, and on our recent noon visit it was not terribly busy.
Sugo (Italian for "sauce" or "juice") changes its menu from time to time, although there are some constants. Having peeked at the lunch menu online, I had a already decided I wanted to try the Carbonara ($11): "Fresh black pepper fettucini tossed in a sauce of rendered pancetta (an Italian bacon), garlic and white wine butter sauce."
Front room manager Jill Litzel waited on us, and the daily specials she recited (pumpkin ravioli) almost lured me away from the carbonara. But I stuck to my guns and ordered carbonara.
My partner in crime and lunch, Stow Patch Local Editor Amanda Harnocz, went for the seafood Pescatore ($12): "Sauteed shrimp, scallops and mussels tossed in a spiced butter, garlic, white wine and evoo (extra virgin olive oil – "evoo" is a word in the world of foodies) sauce served over fresh spinach pasta finished with Romano cheese."
We both ordered the Fagioli soup ($4 cup, $5 bowl). The cup looked like a bowl and was quite enough, thick and spicy with a tomato base. It's a variation from traditional Fagioli (and nothing like what you might find at Olive Garden), with spicy Italian sausage, gnocci, cannelloni beans and carrots among other vegetables. It was a little like spicy pizza in a cup, I scribbled in my notes.
Our entrees arrived a few minutes after the soup.
The carbonara was definitely different, rich even by carbonara standards – and don't dare add any salt before you've tasted it. The pancetta is the likely source of the saltiness in this dish, which is delicious nonetheless. There's a dab of pesto artfully placed in the middle, adding an unexpected wrinkle to the dish. Each forkful had a surprise: a big half-melted glob of Romano in one bite, a stealth bomb of garlic in another. And the pancetta. Very good. And very different. Side note: An old friend of mine picked up a recipe for carbonara while stationed in Italy. I'll share it here. Try the home recipe then try and compare at Sugo.
Harnocz commented that those were the biggest mussels she'd ever seen in her seafood Pescatore. She said her meal was good, except the mound of pasta was a bit much for lunch.
The chef on duty this day, Michael Ferris, said the kitchen is too small to make the pasta daily, which he'd like to do, so Sugo uses fresh pasta provided by Ohio City Pasta. The fettuccini definitely did not come out of a box. Pretty much everything else is from scratch, he said.
Now eight months in business, Sugo seems to be running smoothly while still being adventurous with its dishes. This is certainly not your grandmother's Italian cooking, but it's definitely a good choice for diners who like to try something a little different. The prices, even for lunch, probably make Sugo a once-in-a-while treat for a lot of diners.
But it's definitely worth the wait.
Sugo Modern Italian Bistro 2485 State Rd. 234-678-7153.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.