A few of us couldn't take it anymore and had to check out Sagra in Davis Square. The thought that Marissa would be consulting to 3 cops and that someone was finally using that pretty 400 Highland space to put out good reasonable Italian food? Come on.
The good news is the food really is all that. These guys are using top quality ingredients, from the olive oil drizzled over white bean puree to the house-made (I think) prociutto on the pizza bianca. The fried appetizier plate had one of the most amazing fried bechamel fritters I've ever tasted, and the arancini and calamari were perfectly fried and greaseless. My favorite on the plate was the mezaluna potatoes -- perfectly thin fries with a delicious citrus aioli. Accompanied by fried green olives (Limster, thanks for that tip, I wouldn't have ordered these if you hadn't recommended them). We hoped to have the pasta course before our secondi but they all came together -- more on the service in a minute. Gnocchi with duck ragu and house made sausage, rapini and rigatoni. I could eat the duck ragu on a cigarette butt and enjoy it. They sent over the pizza because we were waiting so long and it's also very good. Thin crust, irregularly shaped and topped with cheese and the prosciutto and fresh rosemary. Finally, I had the lamb two ways, the others can chime in on their entrees ... my little chop was perfectly medium rare and was served with an excellent roasted red pepper and olive salad on the side. The flavors together were perfect. I was too full to try the lamb blade steak (a cut I love at home) but a leftover check later proved that was also really really good. They are using very good quality meats and serving them simply -- which I love. Good, decently priced wine list and something for dessert I can't recall now (we'd had three bottles of wine).
The bad news, and it's very bad, is that the service we had was beyond terrible. We waited a full half-hour for the first bottle of wine, our waitress really butchered the foil opening it (I removed what she hadn't removed from the lip of the bottle). There were a million little snafus and it was a full 2 hours before we were on our mains. Luckily the company was so good and the wine kept coming so we didn't mind that much but really they have to fix the service problem. Poor girl just had never been trained -- she was awfully sweet and was sort of embarrassed when asked for the bread or reminded to put in the app order. If the management of Sagra is reading this ... listen. Seriously, you need to train the waitstaff. The food definitely makes up for it, but it would be so much better with competent FOH. (The bartender was fine, but we didn't really test her -- they don't have cocktails. She did recommend the best entrees though, which I thanked her for as we were leaving, a million years later.)
Marissa was indeed there, and the place was packed for a cold weeknight. Some of the tables turned a few times while we were there so not all the servers can be as poor as ours was. The room is big -- there are three bars on two levels -- and it's definitely loud when the joint is full but tucked away at our little table it was okay. There were a few large parties and lots of two-tops plus people eating at the bar. I can definitely see stopping in for a pizza and a glass of wine at the bar. It's a very promising place. I hope they don't diminish the quality when Marissa gets done consulting (within the month) and I really hope they can match the quality of the food with better waitstaff. Only time will tell.