The long awaited seventh restaurant from The Aquitaine Group, Cinquecento, has at last opened in the South End, and the pent up anticipation is apparent by the crowds rushing to get a table. The space is absolutely charming from the painted arcade entrance to the beautiful interior, which has been meticulously renovated drawing inspiration from Roman Trattorias.
On a recent visit we started dinner with the Calamari alla Griglia $8.75 and Cozze in Brodo $9.75 (both shown above). Even though I thought the lemon infused calamari was delicious it only comes with four pieces so I’d recommend the mussels, which is more filling and has an aromatic broth you may soak with the bread brought to your table.
Shown below is the Rigatoni alla Norcia served with fennel sausage, Marsala and Parmigiano $16.75 and Gnocchi al Sugo di Cinghiale served with wild boar, raisins, pine nuts and Pecorino $17.50. The rigatoni is delicious, but its the exact plate served at their sister restaurant, Metropolis Cafe, just blocks away. The gnocchi was “mezza mezza“ as my Sicilian grandmother would say but the sauce is rich and delicious. I’d suggest Seth Woods’ nixes the gnocchi and uses the boar with the rigatoni; it would be a new, hearty plate perfect for the winter.
The menu does provide a number of other delicious options that we tried but unfortunately I didn’t photograph including the Ricotta Fresca $7 (two words: nom nom), Carpaccio Cabonizatti $13.50, and the Pollo alla Diavola $18.75 may be the heartiest portion on the menu.
There is a lot to like about Cinquecento, and I’m confident it will be a success, but give the staff time to work out the kinks and the management team to tinker with menu options. The service is inconsistent at the moment. On a recent visit our dinner arrived 90 minutes after our appetizers were cleared and two of the six in our party said their plates were served cold. Those negative comments aside, the menu is appealing and smartly priced with appetizers ranging from $6-$13; pasta dishes $14-$17; and meat and fish plates from $18-$28.
Cinquecento will be a neighborhood gem. The GM, Eric Hogan (formerly from Gaslight), is a knowledgeable, hardworking veteran who knows a thing or two about running successful restaurants.