Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Coppa – Where Cured Pork Neck Meets Fennel Pollen

Friday, January 24th, 2014

www.coppaboston.com

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

According to the authoritative source on cured Italian meat, Prosciuttopedia (no joke), coppa is derived from a hock of pork neck and is dried according to a secret blend of tradition and spices.

The Coppa I’m talking about here is brought to you by Chefs Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonette and is carefully formulated to be:

  • One part neighborhood wine bar
  • One part salumeria
  • One part wood-fired pizzeria
  • One part fine Italian dining

Indeed, this intimate enoteca and more is tucked away in the South End and keeps a relatively low profile despite churning out some eye-poppingly well-curated culinary delights, like what we ordered:

Fennel Pollen

=========================================================

HOUSE MADE PASTA

Castagna Campanelle con Coniglio  $18/$27

Little bell chestnut pasta, rabbit, kabocha squash, cranberries, bianco sardo

WOOD FIRED PIZZA

Salsiccia   $16

Tomato, pork sausage, ricotta, roasted onion and fennel pollen

==========================================================

Coniglio

When scanning menus, my eyes immediately shoot laser beams at descriptors that hint at things like rabbit, oxtail, wild boar, beef short rib, pork belly, game birds, mutton – all the stuff your average medieval kitchen would have served.

So true to my form, I zeroed-in on the fancy-sounding Castagna Campanelle con Coniglio which was utterly fantastic. The chestnut pasta was unique and earthy, the rabbit succulent (probably braised), the squash finely diced into little cubes, and the cranberries creatively sliced paper-thin as if through a mandolin slicer (meaning the raw berries were not too overwhelming). All was adorned with an extremely flavorful sheep’s milk cheese from Sardegna. A fitting winter menu item. Take a bow, Coppa.

The sausage pizza was another dish dressed to impress. Delicious perfectly-fired pizza dough served as a fitting platter for a delicate mix of ground sausage, ricotta, good tomato sauce, and…fennel pollen? That was a new one for me – I zoned out thinking about the poor schmuck collecting pollen floating through the fennel fields to deliver for hungry hungry hipsters dining at South End restaurants. But it added a little complexity for the Foodie which was appreciated.

As a bonus, I can sound like a real douchebag when I tell people I ate fennel pollen.

In summary, Coppa is a solid establishment that has altered my worldview of Italian dining in Boston (which has had it’s rougher moments). Foodie-approved.

Pennypackers Porchetta Is Pure Poetry. Period.

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

www.pennypackersfinefoods.com

Location: Somerville, MA, Design Center (Boston Seaport), and Roaming Elsewhere

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Following-up my last post on large quantities of meat between two slices of bread, I bring you Pennypackers, home of the best sandwich I’ve eaten around Boston all f*ing year.

A few definitions here to get you started:

Pennypackers: An establishment committed to bringing you mostly sandwiches through a variety of delivery mechanisms:

  1. A perma-truck stationed at the Design Center at the Xsection of Tide St. and Northern Ave. in South Boston (seaport area). Open M-F 10:30 – 3PM.
  2. A roaming truck that serves other parts of Boston – maybe even your neighborhood street corner.
  3. A brick-and-mortar locale in Magoun Sq. Somerville with a few tables and a large ass kitchen.

Porchetta: An Italian culinary tradition, porchetta is a skin-on slab of pork belly wrapped around a trimmed center-cut pork loin and seasoned with herbs, fennel, and citrus. Done properly, the process of creating this masterpiece is a time-consuming endeavor that requires primary assembly before resting 1-2 days in a fridge, and then slow-roasting in the oven. So good I plan to name my first-born child after it.

Now, let me describe to you the combination of both items described above. What you read below is not a poem, it is just centered for emphasis. The poetry is all in the food my friends.

I'm Naming My Baby Girl Porchetta Jean

Pennypackers served you a Porchetta sandwich in Magoun Square.

It cost you $8.

Though Penny packs different accouterments around their porchetta-wich from time-to-time, this beast of a sandwich was served to YOU between two super-soft slices of soft Italian ciabatta-style bread. You had yours with pickled fennel.

The look on your face during the first oral encounter with this sandwich must have been comparable to the heroin addict’s expression after shooting up that next dose.

[Eyes rolling back into their sockets, mouth agape, body slouching back]

You continue to devour the sandwich, finding all sorts of treasures buried between the ciabatta and fennel: succulent morsels of melt-in-your mouth seasoned pork meat, crunchy bits of pork skin, and the odd chunk of delightful pork fat.

Soon you are finished. It feels sad. You promise yourself that you will return.

You salute the chefs and wish them well in their endeavors.

Walking out the door, you told yourself this was the best sandwich you’d eaten around Boston all year. You were right.

Santarpio’s – Yah Dude, the Pizza is Really that Dahn Good

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The Santarpio's Pie

www.santarpiospizza.com

Location: East Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

I’m actually pretty ashamed that I claim to run a Boston-themed food blog and have never tried Santarpio’s….until now, dear readers – until now.

Indeed, Santarpio’s has to rank up there among the most Bostonian things about Boston…such as:

  • The Sawx/Fenway Pahk
  • Mayah Menino
  • The “T”
  • Fanieul Hall
  • The Chah-les
  • Aerosmith
  • The Marathawn

It took me well over 100 years to get my ass over to Eastie and order a few slices since these guys opened in 1903.

I think the main reason that kept me away was the fear of long, winding hoards of people and the maddening maze of Red, Green, and Blue subway switches to get over to a station appropriately named “Maverick” given the fact that it is so seemingly removed from the rest of the city.

Turns out that by car, it ain’t that big a deal. Parking was plentiful, and there was no line at all at 6pm on a summer Saturday eve.

Stepping inside, the place looks like the kind of spot where they would have found Whitey Bulger holed up – basically just simple wooden booths, a bar, dim lighting, and an intimidating large guy manning the door.

But I don’t want to spend too much time setting the stage for what was without question the best traditional, “pizza-parlor-style” slices to be found in Boston.

Upon reflection, I was having difficulty classifying the style of pie that Santarpio’s serves…but stumbled upon a great article on “Slice” – a cyber-column hosted by the Serious Eats family of websites.

Amongst a long list pizza styles found across the US of A, “pizza-parlor” was defined by Serious Eats writer Adam Kuban as:

“any place that has been opened since the ’50s, still has the same family running it, and hasn’t really changed much since then”

Well, given the fact that Santarpio’s has been open since the ‘00s and is family-owned, I’d say they basically fit this description.

SO, HOW WAS THE FRICKIN’ PIZZA NICK?!?

Yup. We ordered a “half ‘n half” pie that was split between plain cheese and homemade sausage and garlic. Here is a slice centerfold:

Uhhhhhhh, Nah Nah Nah Na

  • The first thing you notice is that this has gotta be one of the juiciest slices of pizza ever created. The first bite you take literally catapults wave after wave of oozy, cheezy, tomatoe-y goodness forcibly upon every single taste follicle within one’s mouth.
  • The next thing you notice is that the ingredients are pretty damn good quality – the cheese, tomatoes, dough, and oil employed in the creation of this pizza have gotta be of a certain caliber to pack such flavor.
  • Speaking of the dough…the crust is this delightful chewy-crunchy texture and has to be some of the best I’ve ever had.
  • The sausage slice has the same ability to launch flavor missiles at close range onto your taste buds.
  • Those from the New York/New Jersey area – easily the snobbiest bunch when it comes to pizza – will give Santarpio’s the props they deserve. To prove it, I took a Jersey girl here for verification. It was so good, she gained 5 pounds in one sitting, folks. Definitely her favorite slice in Boston.
  • As mentioned previously, the type of pizza is traditional in that they are not touting gourmet flatbread or Neapolitan-style with thin slices of mozz. This is a family-owned, local spot that is Italian-American in technique and could best be described as ‘pizza-parlor’ in design.

When you encounter moments in life that can change your entire worldview, you need to pay attention. I’ve been talking some smack lately about the pizza scene in Boston, and a trip to Santarpio’s was exactly what I needed to shatter my preconceived notions and conditioned responses.

Thank you, Santarpios – you’ve made me a better man, and a better Bostonian.

Toscano Cambridge – Basta!

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

http://www.toscanoboston.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Does Not Recommend

Uh oh.

In case you missed my recent rant about the quality of the Italian food scene around Boston, now might be a good time to read it, because Toscano Harvard Square supports my thesis nicely.

My concerns and gripes specifically about Toscano are as follows:

  • The menu is too large. The dinner items alone number over 70, not to mention three to five specials each night. Some people like variety, but I start getting very worried when I see a menu this big – I mean, what are the odds that the kitchen does all of this stuff well? I’m just sayin’.
  • Price to quality ratio is off.  Sure, you’ll see fancy words like burrata, wild boar, saffron risotto, and osso bucco on the menu (for a steep price tag no less), but in reality the execution is a far cry from the tantalizing images that run through one’s mind at first read. A few examples:
    • Salmone Asparagi. A simple pan-seared filet of salmon with a few tough sticks of asparagus on the side. 23 greenbacks for something I can cook better in my own kitchen.
    • Burrata with beefsteak tomatoes. For nearly $14 bucks, just a lump of somewhat average cheese with three lazy slices of tomato and some balsamic on the side. Phooey.
    • Wild boar gnocchi. An OK dish, but somewhat disappointing presentation and a half-assed Bolognese-like attempt at a classic.
    • Capesanti. Sea scallops with leeks and spinach. Sounds good doesn’t it? For a rich $27 dollars you receive four generous sea scallops with a large clump of spinach. Buy a pound of scallops at your favorite fishmonger, score and season with good salt and pepper on both sides, then cook on high heat with butter in a cast iron skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side and you’ll have better for less. Oh snap.
    • Calamari in Gratella. I love grilled calamari, but this version left me wanting. The squid was a little rubbery, and the accompanying mustard sauce was too overbearing. No.

 

 

 

 

 

I was excited by this opening because I’ve had a couple good experiences at Toscano Beacon Hill, but left location #2 convinced this was my first and only time eating here.

I’ve never been too pumped about the dining scene in Harvard Square either (that could be a separate rant in itself) and Toscana adds another line item to that debate as well.

I’m sorry to lay the smack down on these guys because I did have high hopes, but I owe it to you, my dear pack of loyal readers, to steer you away from any less than the best.

Cinquecento and Deep Italian Thoughts by Nick

Monday, May 13th, 2013

www.cinquecentoboston.com

Location: Boston, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

The Aquitaine Group (masterminds behind Union Bar & Grille, Metropolis, and Gaslight) have breathed a limoncello-laden breath of Italian air into the location that once was Rocca. This brings their resume of south end restaurants up to five as they apply their formulaic approach of superior service, snazzy restaurant design, and solid food to another location.

Before I go on, I present to you a few notes on the Italian food scene in the greater Boston area:

In short, we are not quite nailing it yet – but there are promising signs of change in the right direction.

  • Let’s start with the North End to get it out the way. Our most famous neighborhood for Italian food presents a sad assortment of overpriced tourist traps that are better off avoided. There are a few bright spots in the form of authentic little salumerias, bakeries, and coffee shops but none of these establishments have me jaunting over there on the reg.
  • On to haute cuisine. Spots like Rialto, Via Matta, and more recently Giulia deliver very respectable dishes and a dose of authenticity but with a heftier price tag.  I have not tried Sportello or Coppa but would guess they both sit right here as well. These guys are taking steps in the right direction and I give them a swagger and a nod – I just wish they were more accessible.
  • Then there are the down-home joints. I’ve become enamored with a smattering of more low-key joints over in Cambridge and Somerville like Pescatore, L’Impasto, Gran Gusto, and Posto that really do great things with an authentic, home-cooked unpretentious flair. Pescatore assembles sexy seafood dishes, L’Impasto bakes amazing fresh bread, and Gran Gusto and Posto are cranking out some outstanding pizza. Though you have to expect a little less consistency from these spots – they have earned my respect along with a half-smile and a twinkle of the eye.
  • What about pizza? Sigh…this is an area where I am currently very upset, stomping, and mad that I’m not getting my way. We are not doing pizza well enough in Boston. Slices range from tasteless to overly inventive (Salvatore’s) to scandalous (Upper Crust). Though there are some mentioned in this review who make an effort, we need a complete makeover in this important food group. In fact, I’ve recently made a resolution to learn how to make respectable-enough pizza in my own oven to avoid ordering out – recipes wanted!
  • Other random bright spots in somewhat unexpected places. Marliave actually is a hidden gem with some nice Italian fare. I possibly had the best gnocchi in my life at Salts in Cambridge. Dave’s Fresh Pasta is selling off excellent paninis, pasta, sauces and more…plus their recent child Spoke Wine Bar (see previous review) looks poised for great things as well. Every once in a while Area Four in Kendall will dish out a pizza that simply blows my mind, and their food truck intrigues me as well. The Butcher Shop in the south end will supply endless plates of outstanding antipasti and cured meats for you as well.

So with all that said, where does Cinquecento fit in?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is all a very long way of saying that I liked Cinquecento, but feel that as a city we really need to raise the bar on our Italian cooking. The Aquitaine Group is definitely among those taking steps in the right direction – as evidenced by:

  • My braised rabbit gnocchi with green olives, parmesan, and a heavenly little pink sauce
  • Our Sardinian wine that wowed me from sip one
  • The burrata special that was imported creamy goodness inventively paired with rhubarb in pickled and crystalized form. Pretty dish too.

All this in a legitimately cool setting that is designed to power out hundreds (or probably thousands) of dishes each night to a hungry mass of Bostonians.

Bunny Taste Yummy

Nick, o ye wise food sage, tell me – what is coming in the future?

Yes, young grasshopper. I sense that the best Italian cooking is a little further afield. I intend to survey Medford (AKA Meffa) for this genre and already have a few good leads. The best slice of pizza in New England lives in Portland, ME…so there must be more hidden secrets out there in the woods beyond the route 128 belt.

Next, celebrity chefs have taken an interest in us. Mario Batali is planning on opening a Babbo Pizzeria in Fort Point. We are receiving Italian food aid from other states to assist with our dire situation.

Where do I think the Italian food scene in Bostonia should go? People are trying to do too much. I say enough of trying to be all Roman things to all people. Pick a specialty and do it right. How about a classy salumeria with house-cured meats and a bangin’ wine selection? How about a few authentic, small pizza joints pulling the real deal out of wood-fired ovens? Shit, how about a shop that just serves frickin’ awesome meatballs? How about a spot out on the docks of Fort Point serving the freshest-possible Cape Cod & MA-state seafood wrapped up in fresh-as-hell pasta?

If an enterprising chef out there happens to stumble across these words – either a Boston native or a small-town Italian chef from afar…please…make my dreams come true.

Spoke Wine Bar – Cheers to Goodness Upon Goodness

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

www.facebook.com/SpokeWineBar

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie:  Recommends

Neat Bar Trick

After a few weeks in which Boston has seen badness spawned by badness, I’m thinking that it’s about time for an uplifting story for a change.

Am I talking about that puppy rescued from a dumpster, free snow cones on a summer day, or motherhood and apple pie?

Close, but no cigar. I’m talking about Spoke Wine Bar.

Spoke is what you get when a solid S’ville mainstay (Dave’s Fresh Pasta) branches out into new territory with a team led by the grape pro behind their excellent booze operation.

Whereas youngsters flock to the sandwiches and raviolis at Dave’s like tweens to Bieber, the cool kids will be taking a seat at Spoke for my fave gourmet pop stars Barbera and Burrata instead.

Spoke is small and intimate as any wine bar worth their sauvignon should be, whilst eschewing the ‘tude held dear by so many of it’s cabernet-pouring compatriots.

There are two main reasons to come here:

1.     FOOD

  • Nice selection of cured meats and cheeses presented on wooden planks
  • Spreads, flatbreads, and snacks ranging from marinated olives to the more glamorous peekytoe crab crostinis.
  • A small but respectable selection of small plates and more substantial dishes categorized into vegetables, seafood, and meat (oh my).
  • Though we only sampled the charcuterie, I am drawn to the handmade cavatelli, stinging nettle vellutata (just sounds cool but no idea what it will be like other than that it contains burrata) and handmade garganelli with lamb ragu, fava, and ricotta salata.
  • So yeah, the menu leans Italiano. As well it should at any fine wine bar. As well it should.

 2.     DRINK

  • The night we arrived, Spoke was pouring six whites and five reds by the glass, as well as three wines mysteriously set aside in the “other” category. We sipped on an excellent frappato from Sicily (close to a nero d’avola)  and dolcetto (also fantastic). Whites included a muscadet, a riesling, and gruner veltliner.
  • For those who like to palm their alcohol vessels rather than daintily cling to a glass stem, Spoke offers a respectable selection of bottled beers that will probably have something good on it that you’ve never heard of before like Baxter Phantom Punch Winter Stout (Maine), Nectar Ales Nectar IPA (California), and De ‘Proef’ Brouwerij Reinaert Wild Ale (Belgium).
  • I must also say that the bar staff here is genuine, knowledgeable, fun, and a pleasure to sit across from.

I am pleased that I can now eat the Cubano sandwich at Dave’s, buy a dozen wild mushroom raviolis, then sip a few glasses a couple doors down before stumbling home.

So remember, even in the midst of badness – goodness upon goodness is still possible in and around this great city. We’ve seen all the 021.XX zip codes and beyond produce such an impressive swell of giving, solidarity, and strength following the Marathon – we should wash it all down with some good vino to boot.

Cheers, Boston – and here’s to goodness upon goodness in times ahead.

The Blue Ox – Magically Sweeping You Off Yer Feet to Lynn

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

www.theblueoxlynn.com

Location: Lynn, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

In the history of this blog, I’ve taken you far outside the city limits of Boston in pursuit of good food. We’ve flown out of Logan together multiple times – remember those hotdogs in Chicago, those lobster rolls in Portland, the ceviche in Lima? Remember our pastries and romance in Paris (hehe)?

Well today, my friends in wanderlust, I am magically sweeping you off your feet to…well, Lynn.

After winding our way up the majestic Route 1, we found ourselves in downtown Lynn and settled into our seats at the Blue Ox – today’s destination dining spot.

As you might imagine, this neighborhood spot in Lynn didn’t enter my food dar by way of Thrillist, Eater, or other local food bloggers even – it landed on my “To Try” list the old school way – through the word-of-mouth grapevine. Which is fitting given the fact that chef/owner Matt O’Neil got his culinary career started on Martha’s Vineyard before manning kitchen battle stations at No. 9 Park, The Butcher Shop, and Copia.

Together with his wife and chef de cuisine Guaracyara Pimenta (aka “G”), Matt has an immensely popular, unpretentious, and fun thing going on in Lynn.

Their menu is eclectic and melds together your favorite gastropub, Italian joint, and salty New England seafood spot down by the wharf.

For those solely interested in food pictures and a brief blurb on the dishes – The highlights of my eating experience here were as follows:

  • Fried Maitland Mountain Farm Pickles, grilled lemon & thyme aioli, and aged balsamic. One of the best beer pairings I’ve ever tasted, delightfully juicy, well-spiced, and nicely fried. These picklers are actually based out of Salem, FYI. If you like the pickles, you can get them in a spicy martini here too.

  • The Blue Ox Burgers. Seriously in the running for my Top 10 Burgers list of 2013, these are two quarter-pounder sliders stuffed with gorgonzola dolce, topped with applewood smoked pig strips, and slathered in lemon/thyme aioli. Served on a fluffy brioche bun with fries and another awesome MM F pickle. The best part about these burgers is that the gorgonzola basically explodes into your mouth as you bite hungrily into your slider. Seriously exciting. Delightfully unique.

Oozing Gorgonzola w/ Each Bite

  • Lobster Tacos. Served in grilled tortilla with avocado, diced tomato, scallion, chipotle aioli, and lime.

Other stuff that caught my eye for the next time here:

  • Spicy tuna tartare with cucumber, scallion, cilantro, chive cream, chili sauce and house-made chips
  • Blue Ox clam chowder with bacon, Tabasco, chive
  • The “Sin” burger with bacon, swiss, and truffle aioli
  • Pan roasted cod with wild mushroom risotto and fennel arugula salad

In the end, similar to Paris, Lima, and Chicago – the Ox was well worth the journey. I’m beginning the think that I should continue expanding my local radius outside of Boston, Cambridge, and the ‘Ville to keep bringing you hidden gems outside the city proper.

Get ready – you might be hearing soon about places in Lowell, Framingham, Milford, and who knows where else?

Build meat burgers, and I will come.

Giulia – Don Carlos by Verdi, on a Plate

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

http://www.giuliarestaurant.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Sooooo – It’s been a quiet month here on NicktheFoodie.com – but not for lack of eating. During this slow, cold month of January, your master of ceremonies has been patiently waiting to spring a deluge of fun filled food adventures on you.

In this short month of February, you will be magically swept off your feet to vicarious experiences of Italian dining in Cambridge, to our nation’s capital, and to the exotic culinary capital of Peru.

Let’s start with the first item on that list – Giulia.

After assembling a pretty impressive CV in Boston and Chi-town, former Via Matta Exec Chef Michael Pagliarini stepped out on his own to bring us a very solid upscale Italian joint. Thank you, Michael.

We managed to snag a table just a few short weeks after Giulia’s grand opening, and impressively the FOH (or Front of House for the laymen) were running the place like they’d been practicing with plastic kiddie toys and mannequins around the clock for a solid month before the first breathing customers arrived.

Which is to say, service was very attentive.

I could go on and on about an exposed brick interior and a “pasta table” while filling up this site with expertly-crafted photographs, but I will skip right to what you rely on me for – the food.

So enjoy my food blurb complete with poorly-taken smartphone snapshots:

FOOD BLURB:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giulia has everything that an Italian expat nostalgic for the flavors of the motherland would want:

  • House-made pastas rolled out with nice technique into lovely shapes such as pappardelle, fusilli, ravioli, orecciette, agnolotti and linguini
  • A menu structured to facilitate several courses slowly devoured amongst family and free-flowing bottles of wine
  • Dishes that prominently feature a range of beloved meats, that when sung in an operatic fashion, sound like a classic tragedy set in a salumeria: mortadella, soppressata, pancetta, lardo, prosciutto and Finocchiona (a version of Tuscan salami made with fennel seeds)
  • The famous cheeses of Italia sprinkled, shaved, sliced, and diced up into your favorite dishes – think aged parmigiano, pecorino, ricotta, and grana.

I had the good fortune of sampling several delectable dishes here over a few courses – here are the highlights:

  • Warm Semolina Cakes with Lardo – Soft little circular slices of love slathered in a substance that is the subject of every segment of food porn – yes, lardo. That thin layer of fat under the pig’s skin that is wonderfully herbed and melts like butter onto a warm slice of good bread.
  • Pappardelle with Wild Boar – An amazing pasta dish from start to finish, this creation will meet and exceed every thought of mouth-watering anticipation once the order escapes your mouth and reaches the pen of your server. Beautifully thick strands of pasta with braised  wild boar, seared black trumpet mushrooms, juniper, aged parmigiano and a little spicy heat bubbling up from below.
  • Burrata – Another foodie buzz word that features prominently into full-length foldouts in Bon Appétit magazines and winds up posted on your favorite chef’s locker. That cream-filled mozzarella-like cheese is served up at Giulia with roasted peppers, pine nuts, and golden raisins.

I left still dreaming about a few dishes that I’ll be back for like an Arnie flick: Veal medallion with umbrian lentils, cippolini and pomegranate saba, house-made lamb sausage with broccoli rabe, pepperonata, and gigante beans, and the classic bucatini all’amatriciana (consisting of house-cured pancetta, tomato, onion, pecorino and white wine).

My beefs with Giulia are few, but I feel that I must step up onto my all-important soapbox to air them into the cybersphere:

  1. Wine list is too aspirational. When the cheapest bottle starts at $55, you are missing out on a wide market of drinkers who are happy to slug down an excellent bottle priced at $35.
  2. The “Small Plates” phenomenon taken too far. The way Giulia is priced, you will be dining on a miniscule portion of excellently cooked food for the price of a heaping portion at other places. Unfortunately, I thus need to file this spot in my ‘special occasion’ folder next to other restaurants that I spring out when in the doghouse with me lady.

Overall – a fantastic food experience, which is undoubtedly the most important thing. But like any good Italian tragedy, we need a little drama thrown in to make life a little more juicy.

Tatte – Finally, the Right Way to Say “Tart”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

http://www.tattecookies.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Much to the chagrin of places like Woburn High, this place is actually pronounced Tah-tuh.

But damn can they bake. After opening right smack in Kendall Square on Third Street in early May, these guys have been packed to the brims with pharma jocks, medical device bandits, MIT babes, start-up engineers, and latte-carrying yuppies.

Business has been good. And Tatte deserves it. With a pimped-out line-up of sweet and savory, crusty and creamy, chocolatey and buttery, cheesy and meaty, green and soupy – the menu here features the following:

  • Fresh baguettes
  • Croissants
  • Brioche
  • Quiches (cherry tomato ‘n feta, potato ‘n thyme, zucchini ‘n mozz)
  • Soups (sweet pea, tomato basil bisque, mushroom)
  • Sammiches (think mozz, tomato, basil and pesto on toasted foccacia and pan roasted meatballs and san marzana ‘matoes on baguette with provolone)
  • Salads (vegetarians will delight in a full array of salads that come herby and green, loaded with ancient grains, or classically spinach and feta)
  • A Legit Breakfast Spread (brekkie sandwiches, muesli, bread baskets galore, shakshuka, and other assortments worthy of the Sunday Brunching crowd)

There are no pictures of these items in this review because the snapshots I took did not do them justice. On top of all this, Tatte tips their hat to nearly all my favorite food havens in Europe:

  • The shop looks unmistakably French and customers are greeted with a hearty “bonjour” from the full selection croissants, brioche, and baguettes behind the pastry window
  • The sandwiches, bread items, and full Illy Coffee setup scream “Viva l’Italia!”
  • The name Tatte conjures up images of an apron-and-rolling-pin-wielding-stocky-German-woman plus they serve Schnitzel for lunch

There is a fine patina of Eastern Europe and Mediterreania here as well with your eggplant purees, tahini, and yogurts.

Oh, and any bakery would be incomplete with a big slice of Americana – yes, they have a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

I guess Tatte really does speak Baaaston after all…But I am glad that they bow to European technique.

L’Impasto – So Real It’s Unreal / So Real E ‘Unreal

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

So real, so authentic, this review is being posted in both English and Italian (the Google translate dialect, or Googlielmo of course). The review will read like a gangsta ride or die anthem but that’s because the grubbolo here is so good they should require an initiation. Are you a (tomato) blood, or a (Roman) crypt?

  • Run by a real life Roman owner who also mans the kitchen single-handedly each night

  • Too real for a website. The web is for posers.
  • Serving real traditional pasta dishes, salads, and a few pizza selections
  • The pasta is the real deal shit – house-made. From lasagnas to bucatini to ravioli.
  • The bread is the real deal shit – house-baked and beautiful. From light focaccia, to dense olive. All breads are also sold separately by the loaf for a real good price.
  • Our meal was the real shitReal Burrata with prosciutto, sweet roasted peppers, fig balsamic.

  • Real bucatini (thick, hollow noodles) with small chunky morcels of pancetta and white wine tomato sauce.
  • Real, miraculously thin and delicate ravioli filled with tomato and mozz and swimming in some real pesto.

The only slightly-less-than-real aspect of eating here was that we weren’t slurping down flasks of house red or white wine during the experience (no liquor license yet). I’ll chalk that up to the “quirk” in my formula for what makes a good Italian joint (simple + fresh + quirky).

L’impasto is real. L’impasto is legit. More reasonably-priced quality real Italian food on this side of the Charles? L’impossible.

Ride or die!!!

Not a bong, fool. Evoo and Balsamic.

===============================Translation ===================================

Così reale, così autentica, questa revisione è stato scritto in inglese e in italiano (il dialetto Google translate, o Googlielmo naturalmente). La revisione potrà essere letto come un giro gangsta o morire inno, ma questo è perché il grubbolo qui è così bene che dovrebbe richiedere una iniziazione. Sei un (pomodoro) del sangue, o un (romano) cripta?

  • Gestito da una reale proprietario vita romana, che equipaggia anche la cucina da sola ogni notte
  • Di servizio veri e propri primi piatti tradizionali, insalate, pizze e una scelta di pochi
  • Troppo reale per un sito web. Il web è per posers.
  • La pasta è la merda vero affare – fatti in casa. Dalle lasagne al bucatini ai ravioli.
  • Il pane è la merda vero affare – casa cotto e bello. Dalla luce focaccia, denso di olive. Tutti i tipi di pane sono venduti anche separatamente dal pane ad un prezzo veramente bene.
  • Il nostro pasto era la vera merda – Burrata reali con prosciutto, peperoni arrostiti, fig balsamiche.
  • Reale bucatini (pasta di spessore, cavi) con piccoli morcels grosso di salsa al vino bianco e pomodoro, pancetta.
  • Real, ravioli miracolosamente sottili e delicate piene di pomodoro e mozz e nuoto in qualche reale pesto.

L’unico aspetto un po ‘-meno-che-reale di mangiare qui era che non eravamo giù slurping fiaschi di casa, vino bianco o rosso durante l’esperienza. Io gesso che fino alla “stranezza” nella mia formula per ciò che rende un buon italiano comune (semplice + fresco + stravagante).
L’impasto è reale. L’impasto è legit. Più qualità a prezzi ragionevoli vero cibo italiano su questo lato del Charles? L’impossibile.
Ride or Die!