Perron's Sul Lago

16154 Main Av. SE. Prior Lake, MN 55372

Capsule review:

Tood Perron's restaurant (the name is Italian for "on the lake") ranks among the best restaurants on the southern and western suburbs. Calamari, bruschetta and spaghettini in tomato sauce may be overexposed, but Perron gives them a new lease on life. Mussels are firm and plump, and the broth of white wine, basil and roasted garlic so savory that it demands being sopped up with the crusty baguette. Bruschetta are also a departure: instead of the usual - thin slices of bread with a light tomato topping - Perron's rendition is a single thick slab of crusty grilled sourdough bread with a choice of toppings that includes wild mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano; cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, onions and basil. Even the simplest dish on the menu, spaghettini with tomato sauce, is out of the ordinary: the noodles are perfectly al dente, and the sauce, prepared with Valpolicella, had an uncommon depth of flavor. The very limited menu is augmented with nightly specials. The dining room has a relaxed elegance, but the best tables are the ones on the balcony, overlooking the lake, lit at dusk by citronella-scented torches. Wine list: Mostly Italian, with helpful tasting notes. ( , 8/19/2004)

Price: $$$