Food Dudes: Salute provides warm, classic Italian dining

Downtown Hartford is often overlooked for dinner spots, and it shouldn’t be. Many of the restaurants in downtown Hartford easily compete with some of the West Hartford heavyweights that we all know and love. One of these spots is Salute Restaurant. With its warm service and classic Italian fare, Salute is a great place for a weekend dinner.
Situated on the edge of Bushnell Park right next to downtown area, Salute is only a 10-minute drive from Trinity and is accessible by public transportation. There is a parking garage right next to the restaurant that the restaurant validates.
During the warmer months, Salute has a terrace that is almost always packed during happy hour, lunch, and dinner. The inside of the restaurant blends modern and classic style. Hardwood floors, dark wooden tables, and stone accents come together to create a warm décor. There is a bar area with about 20 tables, and also a small function and private dining room in the back.
Salute features an extensive wine menu, with many offerings by the glass. The lunch and dinner menus include many of the classic appetizers, salads, pastas, and entrees. The appetizers and salads include a Caprese salad, spicy calamari, and a meatball salad, among many others. The pastas and entrees include everything from filet steak to rosé pasta.
There are classics like chicken parmesan and spaghetti with meatballs and more creative options as well. Salute serves a “spasta pesto” which consists of spaghetti squash topped with sautéed julienned vegetables and homemade pesto. This dish appeared to be a favorite, as many of the other diners were enjoying it.
I ordered the pasta ala vodka with chicken. For a starter, I chose the cheesy garlic bread.
If there is one reason to go to Salute, it is for the cheesy garlic bread. This was easily the best part of the meal and you would have to be crazy not to order it. Served warm in a basket, it is perfectly garlicky, cheesy, and buttery. It is the perfect start to any Italian meal and I would definitely recommend ordering it as a starter.
The pasta alla vodka was creamy and delicious, served tossed with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and chicken. The sundried tomatoes were a nice addition to the creamy sauce, and the broccoli was welcomed as it gave color and a semblance of health to an otherwise rich dish. The pasta came topped with feta cheese, which was an interesting and appreciated twist on the usual Parmesan.
At the end of the meal, the manager of the restaurant asked if we were Trinity students, and if we had access to an oven. He then proceeded to bring us two loaves of frozen cheesy garlic bread and a bag of homemade biscotti. He told us to take it home and heat it up, and gave us instructions on how to properly bake it like they do at the restaurant.
I’m not sure if this is a common practice at Salute, but this level of hospitality was much appreciated, especially since the cheesy garlic bread was the highlight of my meal.
The portions at Salute are quite large. The bill came to about 20-25 dollars per person. For a contemporary and upscale place with great food, I would consider the prices about average – certainly comparable in price to similar restaurants in West Hartford.
Salute offers great food, exceptional service, and warm atmosphere. A great spot for a weekend dinner or date night, check out Salute for a change of pace from the West Hartford clichés and an interesting downtown setting.

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