Restaurant review: Cinquecento

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.

Cinquecento AppetizersOn 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.

Cinquecento Dinner

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.

Cinquecento is located at 500 Harrison Avenue. Reservations are strongly recommended. Call ahead at (617) 338-9500.
Cinquecento on Urbanspoon

4 responses to “Restaurant review: Cinquecento

  1. BOS guy, thank you for dining with us and for your detailed comments.
    We will discuss your comments and continue to scrimmage.
    Our neighborhood and Bostonians in general deserve the best and we will double our efforts if necessary to not let them down.
    Regards and a happy and safe holiday season to you all.
    Jeffrey Gates


  2. We ate with 6 people on Saturday night and everything including the service was spot on. We tried to all get different plates so we could share. All very delicious and nothing was left on a dish. Good wine and drinks. We look forward to a return visit soon.


  3. Hopefully more a more enjoyable experience than BoMa (which I predict will close up before the end of 2012 due to ineptness run rampant and the owners being better suited to shaking people down than serving them food & drinks. The employees must be hurting from lack of decent tips and thinking about working somewhere else.

    As for the bartenders….every single one weaker than the booze that’s been watered down in the sense that there’s too much sizzle and no steak at all (unless you count fat & gristle clinging to meat remnants).

    And the fact that it’s located next door to the worst employees in the city of Boston (sorry DMV) has me conficted about which I’d like most to see die (in a fire) and be reborn from the ashes like the mythical Pheonix.



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