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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $13.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Good
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Fair
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good

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Comment: Sarento’s is an Italian restaurant up in the Dells. Normally we would never consider a place like that for a Fish Fry, but we heard theirs was great, and what many said was the absolute best in the Madison area. This we had to see for ourselves.

Now, the Dells is clearly a family-friendly destination and Sarento’s looks kind of fancy when you walk in, but it’s more of a faux fancy. There is a big bar to the right, a hostess station to the left, and if you’re like us (a party of 7 including 3 kids) you’ll promptly be escorted to the Pizzareia (otherwise known as the basement). Mercifully, it’s a pretty nice basement with plenty of lighting and a couple flat-screens so it doesn’t feel overly dungeonesque. The wait staff will be buzzing all over the place and we had waters and a basket of breadsticks on our table practically before we were all seated.

The Friday Fish is cod and comes either fried or broiled for $13.00. Both include a baked potato or French fries, and a house salad, but the boiled also includes sugar snap peas (a bonus side for the broiled even though their the same price, what’s up with that?). In addition a humungous bowl of clam chowder can be added for just three bucks.

Since the breadsticks were the first thing on the table we’ll start there. The sticks come whether fish is ordered or not and are soft, but not very flavorful. They reminded us of the kind served a Fazoli’s (is that place even still around), but sadly were probably not even that good. Conversely, the chowder was good, but mostly because of its abundance. It had much more potato than clam, but for $3 it’s hard to really complain.

After the chowder came the house salad arrived (which is substituted for coleslaw whether you like it or not). The salad was a basic garden variety, but jazzed up with some garbanzo beans and cucumber cubes. It was just fine as was the vinaigrette style house dressing that accompanied it.

This first course (if you want to call it that) all came in a flash, so it was a bit surprising when there was a noticeable delay with the fish – we figured it’d be ba da bing ba da boom. When it did arrive it actually looked quite appetizing as four long cod fillets artfully graced the plate. The fish was cloaked in a golden colored batter that didn’t do the so-so cod any favors. The batter had very little flavor of its own and couldn’t save the fish which had a bit of a musty flavor. Overall, it was very run-of-the-mill and doesn’t stack up to some of the other places out there.

A zesty tartar could have saved the fish to some extent but the Sorento sauce was kind of boring and left us wanting more. The julienne-cut freezer fries were also unappealing mostly because the portion of them was teensy weensy.

We realize everyone likes Fish Fry for their on reason and have fierce allegiances to their local spots, but this is one that we just don’t get. There was really nothing special about it, and we can’t really think of a reason to go back. Overall, we don’t recommend this Fish Fry and would definitely go to the Del Bar instead. Their fish is the exact same price, and much better in our opinion.
441 Wisconsin Dells Parkway
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

(608) 253-3300