From a burger and fries lunch at Sonic in Florida to having dinner at the Four Seasons in New York, I have been to quite a number of eateries in my 52 years. Some have been great, others – not so much. But never have I been so impressed and inspired by a dining experience to actually sit down a write a restaurant review. If you like a warm and welcoming atmosphere, fantastic Italian food and top-notch friendly service then you must — without a doubt – go to Salute in Spring Hill, FL.
The best way to describe the approach of Salute’s staff is; putting the word “service” back in “service industry.” As soon as you step inside your presence is acknowledged by a warm a gracious member of their staff. Even on our first visit you are made to feel as if you are a member of their “family.”
“Heather” was our server. She is a consummate professional and an absolute delight. Her capacity to memorize and explain their vignette of evening special — with flawless delivery and impeccable knowledge of each item’s ingredients — was nothing less than spectacular. This same attentiveness and effort to make you feel welcomed is displayed by every Salute staff member.
Everything on the Salute menu is made fresh on the spot. There’s nothing frozen or pre-packaged here. Even their bread is made by hand and offers you a variety of plain Italian or a pair of delicious renditions prepared with either black olives or pepperoni. Considering the higher-end quality of the food, the meals are surprisingly affordable.
Their Mussels appetizer, “sautéed with fresh garlic and olive oil in a white wine sauce,” is out of this world. The pasta fazul is absolutely divine. The veal parmesan — lightly breaded veal scaloppini, pan-fried and topped with mozzarella cheese in their “famous tomato sauce” and served with a side of spaghetti — is incredible. The lobster ravioli – topped with shrimp and crab meat – is just this side of heavenly. Even their house salad is elevated to extraordinary with owner and head Chef Gaetano Deluca’s own special creamy balsamic dressing – which he bottles for sale in case you become addicted.
Born in Calabria, Italy, Gaetano DeLuca grew up in Baltimore where he worked in his family’s restaurant business and eventually became a chef in his own right. DeLuca’s specialty calamari appetizer is said to have held the record of Baltimore Magazine’s “Best of Baltimore” since 1997. In November 2010, he opened Salute. By August of 2011, Salute earned bragging rights as a Best of Hernando Gold Winner.
“It’s in your blood,” DeLuca says of his decision to open Salute. “You won’t get rich in this business but at least I don’t have anyone telling me what to do.”
Just as he knows how to create an amazing meal, Deluca has his own ideas of what ingredients are necessary to make a good restaurant. First and foremost is choosing a good staff and treating them with respect.
“We’re family,” Deluca said of the bond that he and his staff make sure to extend to their guests, leaving no doubt that his love of people is as genuine as his passion for cooking. “You could have the best food” Deluca attests, “but if you have lousy service, no one comes back,”
To add to your dining please Salute offers nightly live entertainment. Guitars and keyboard are accompanied by song and, if you’re lucky, Gaetano himself will serenade you with his personal favorite Italia classic — “It’s Amore.”
Due to its amazing success, Salute will be hosting another wine tasting affair on Jan. 16, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.. For $50.00 – along with a variety of wines perfectly pared wines — guests will be served a 5-course gourmet meal complete with soup, salad, a sampling of cheeses an entre and desert.
“Best restaurant in Spring Hill,” writes Joyce W. on Yahoo! Local. “Great food, awesome staff and this is coming from very picky New Yorkers.”
“Loved this restaurant,” said Elizabeth. “The wait staff was terrific” and the “food awesome — will definitely be going back.”
“It was one of the best experiences I ever had,” wrote Tony DiFatta in his own review provided by City Search and posted on Yellow Pages. “After visiting Salute I was so impressed I hated leaving,” said another happy patron. “It was “one of the best meals I ever had in my life,” exclaimed another.
So there you have it. If you love great Italian food and first-rate service, Salute is the place to go. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t been there I guarantee that, after just one night of being fed and spoiled rotten by Gaetano and his amazing staff, you’ll become another devoted patron just like the rest of us.
Salute is located at 11061 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill, FL 34608.