Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

Coppa’s Goodfella’s Dinner

Coppa Enoteca BostonOn January 24th Coppa hosted their first Goodfellas dinner and yours truly was there for all the fun. The tables were set with red and white checkered tablecloth, empty Chianti bottles with lit candles and the entire staff was decked out in black bow ties and suspenders. The look was a cross between the NYC gangster movies it was inspired by and Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

The four course fixed price menu featured Italian-American favorites like Calamari, Lasagna, Veal Parmigiana and Cannolis.

South End Boston dining, Chef Ken Oringer happened to be on hand that evening, which was nice to see. I can’t recall the last time I saw him in the kitchen at Coppa and it definitely made the evening feel special. We started by ordering a bottle of Livio Felluga Vertigo Rosso, which is an Italian Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon blend that was recommended to us by our server.

Coppa EnotecaOur first plate was a heaping portion of Anitpasti that was delicious but unfortunately didn’t photograph very well. Fortunately my friend, Deborah’s starter, Scallop Piccata with lemon, capers, butter and white wine sauce was beautifully plated and absolutely delicious. We used the bread at the table to clean the plate before our server removed it.

Shrimp ScampiFor my Primi plate I ordered the Shrimp Scampi with sauteed garlic, EVOO, crushed red pepper, done “classic style”. This plate turned out to be one of my favorites of the night. The shrimp was cooked to perfection, picking up the flavors of the garlic and finishing with a nice kick thanks to the red pepper.

Rigatoni alla VodkaDeborah’s choice was equally as delicious and in my opinion our Primi plates were the best part of the dinner. Above is the homemade Rigatoni alla Vodka she ordered. I feel like the photo above does not do this plate justice. It was both delicious and a surprisingly large portion. However, that did not stop the both of us from cleaning the plate so by the time our waiter came to take it away it looked so clean he could practically see his reflection.

Beef Braciole

Beef Braciole is an Italian dish that consists of very thin slices of meat that are pan-fried in their own juice with a bit of olive oil and wrapped usually with bread crumbs and cheese. Coppa also stuffed the short rib with sausage which I think made the plate too heavy and while it was good – it didn’t live up to the previous course. It was simply too heavy, despite the tempting flavors.

CannoliWe both opted to end our dinner with a ricotta and mascarpone and chocolate chip cannoli. As with the previous plate, it was good but in my opinion the best cannolis in Boston are from the North End’s Modern Pastry Shop and everyone else is a distant second. Mind you, that didn’t stop me from eating every last bite.

Despite the fact that some of the plates were not necessarily my favorite I would very happily go back to Coppa’s next Goodfella’s night, and I would suggest you do the same if you are a fan of Italian American cuisine.

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.ratings-awesome

Coppa Enoteca
253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston MA 02118
617.391.0902

Eight course dinner at Toro Boston

south end boston dining, toro restaurant, ken oringerKen Oringer’s restaurant, Toro Boston, first opened in Boston’s South End in 2005.  Despite being open for more than a decade, getting a seat at this casual dining Spanish tapas restaurant can be tough to put it mildly so it has been a while since my last visit. However, Toro occasionally has deals on Gilt City Boston so we purchased an 8-course dinner with wine pairings for two.

I’m happy to write Toro Boston continues to tempt with uniquely delicious dishes and a lively vibe most restaurants would die to have even for just one night a week. Our eight course tasting created by our very able, friendly and not to mention handsome waiter, Jesse, was so delicious that I’ll be thinking about it for weeks to come.

Toro Boston

Rhode Island fluke crudo is new to Toro’s menu and worth trying

Our server started our meal with lighter, refreshing seafood plates that included local oysters with fennel and lemon juice, offering a nice texture and burst of citrus. Sergio even tried it (his first time eating an oyster) and gave it a thumbs up. Following the oysters we were treated to tuna tartare served in what looked like a small anchovy tin. It was served with a green curry, red onions and shallots. However, it was a new dish that Toro had added that day which I really loved – fluke crudo with white soy sauce. It was paired with the Portuguese wine, Nortico Alvarinho 2014, (one of my favorite wines that night), which is very affordable and worth buying if you see it in your local wine shop. 

Toro Boston, Ken Oringer

One of our favorite plates was the Spanish octopus

Two more seafood options followed. First, fried cod tempora croquettes with aioli. I really enjoyed these but Sergio’s response made me laugh, “everything fried tastes good.” Both of us preferred the next plate, Spanish octopus served with olive tapenade, orange, potatoes, and saffron aioli. The seared flavors permeated the meat, making each bite taste better than the last.

Toro Boston, ken oringer

Braised mushrooms with egg yolk is very rich and paired nicely with Portuguese Baga (similar to a Pinot Noir)

Jesse’s next few plates were some of the most flavorful vegetable plates I’ve had in recent memory, starting with roasted pumpkin that had been cooked with maple syrup and was served with squash, wild mushrooms and topped with a liberal helping of pine nut muhammara on grilled lettuce. It struck me as a plate you’d be more likely to see in the fall. I preferred the next course which was braised mushrooms in a broth with herbs and an egg yolk in a spoon. That was just so damn good with the runny yolk of the egg coating the mushrooms.

Toro Boston, Ken Oringer

Our favorite plate of the evening was the smoked duck drumettes

The final few plates started with seared foie gras, which is the first time I’ve ever tried it and left me thinking “what’s all the hype about?”.  The next two plates however more than made up for my lackluster response.  Hanger steak with an onion marmalade and blue cheese butter followed by smoked duck drumettes with a quince glaze.  These last two dishes were hearty, flavorful and in the case of the duck, finger-lickin’ good. The smoked duck, octopus and steak proved to be our most favorite plates so if you find yourself at Toro in the coming weeks, try one of the plates we did and let me know what you think.

BosGuy rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.
ratings-wicked-awesome

Toro Boston
1704 Washington Street
toro-restaurant.com

 

Taste-Vin in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

dining, restaurant review, brazil diningEach year Sergio and I travel to Belo Horizonte (B.H.), Brazil. Despite the fact that you may never have heard of his hometown, it has roughly the same population of Chicago – America’s third largest city.

We take advantage of the great dining when we visit B.H. and this year we visited a restaurant in the Lourdes neighborhood that has been operating since 1988 called Taste-Vin. The quaint French restaurant has a cozy feeling. The decor includes friendly messages like a “Recipe for Happiness”, walls lined with wine bottles and small dining rooms that are sectioned off by a central bar that serves to divide the space but still let patrons look from one dining room to another.

Chef Rodrigo Fonseca

Chef Rodrigo Fonseca who also owns Taste-Vin came out to greet us and share his personal recommendations

The menu at Taste-Vin is surprisingly large with Entrées, Soufflés (perhaps what they are best known for serving), Seafood, Duck and Rabbit, Meat and of course Desserts. Because we got a late start to our dinner (10:30PM on a Monday) we decided to skip ordering an entree and doubled down by ordering one of the twelve soufflés to share and the filet mignon. Before we talk about the food we ordered think about the fragrances that filled these rooms as countless soufflés are being served at nearly every table; like the one shown below.

Spinach Souffle

Taste-Vin Spinach Souffle – $18

The filet mignon, served as two 5 oz medallions, is ideal for sharing so we asked to have each medallion served on separate plates. Below is a photo of my plate as it was served – cooked medium rare as requested. The combination of the wine, filet (with a bouquet of eight herbs served to the side) and soufflé was so aromatic that I was salivating like Pavlov’s dogs after hearing the chime of a bell.

taste-vin-belo-horizonte-filet-mignon-au-pauvre

Shown above is one of the two 5 oz grilled filet mignon medallions is $22

The soufflé was so light and full of flavor. I immediately understood why every table had ordered one to share. The Gruyere soufflé we had ordered also had the added benefit of absorbing some of the au poivre vert sauce.

Upon arriving at the table the waitstaff plated the soufflé, adding some additional drama to what normally concludes with plates being served. taste-vin-belo-horizonte-gruyere-souffle-and-filetpng

Although I mentioned that we skipped an entrée because of the late start to our dinner, neither of us were in a rush to leave what turned out to be an excellent meal so with very little urging from Sergio we also ordered the Moelleux Au Chocolat which is best described by sharing this 5 second video. 

Should you ever get to Belo Horizonte, you may want to give this restaurant a try. Taste-Vin ranks as the second most popular restaurant out of a possible 8,310 places to try listed on Trip Advisor.

Taste-Vin Restaurant – Belo Horizonte

Restaurant review: Marliave

marliave-boston

Photo Credit: downtownboston.org

If you’ve lived in Boston long enough you’ve probably dined at Marliave. The restaurant is located down Bosworth Street – a nondescript street between Downtown Crossing and the Granary Burial Grounds. Marliave has been operating since it first opened in 1885, and is named after the original owner, Henry Marliave, a French immigrant from Paris.

Tracey, Life Food Wine, restaurant review

Life Food Wine blogger and BFF Tracey modeling Marliave’s cocktail menu

I recently joined my friend and fellow blogger from Life Food Wine to visit the restaurant. While the space could seriously use some renovations, I can appreciate how regulars may like the eccentric layout and idiosyncrasies of the space. While we both really loved the cocktail menu, we ended up (as we normally do) enjoying a lovely bottle of wine to accompany our meal.

Diners familiar with the establishment will recognize the menu since little has changed; perhaps a sign that the restaurant knows what their clientele like. The two page menu is divided into what I think of as starters or lighter fare: raw bar, appetizers and eggs, that range in price from just a few dollars for raw bar which are priced individually to $18 with most in the $10-$12 range.  The second page of the menu has the main dishes and sides which include: pastas, meat, fish and sandwiches. These range from $15-$36 with most options in the low $20 range, making the Marliave an excellent value when you consider the quality of the food and service that has remained fairly consistent over the years.

marliave-beat-salad

Marliave’s tower of roasted beets $12

We started our dinner with a very fall inspired plate of roasted beets that were topped with arugula and stacked high with goat cheese that was slathered on almost like a frosting between three layers of beets.

The salad was beautifully assembled and presented with spiced walnuts and drops of aged balsamic and lemon vinaigrette.

marliave-serving-tray

Serving trays add a sense of drama to the service at Marliave

After clearing the salad, our skilled server brought over our main plates in what can only be described as an impressive presentation (yet again) with our dinners served to us like royalty in these serving trays. Want to impress a date? Take them to a restaurant where their meal is presented with a serving tray. I had to prevent myself from saying “Voila!” when our server lifted the lids.

marliave-salmon

Marliave’s wild salmon $30

Tracey opted for the chicken under a brick which was served with a mushroom risotto for $26. Since I don’t like to have bricks with my dinner I opted after much deliberation for the wild salmon. The filet was cooked exactly as I requested and served with a medley of vegetables and a garlic aioli.

My latest visit to the Marliave was a nice change to my regular dining routine and reminded me that the restaurant continues to provide excellent service and a solid dining experience making it a great option for a date, night out with friends or an evening with colleagues.

Marliave
10 Bosworth Street
(617) 422-0004
www.marliave.com

Jody Adams new restaurant: Porto Boston

Jody AdamsJody Adams opened Porto Boston this summer in the Back Bay. Due to its unique location it may be the best restaurant you are guaranteed to always get a table last minute. The restaurant’s address is 780 Boylston Street but it isn’t on Boylston St. It is actually located next to Saks Fifth Avenue across from Shaws, in a space that was not previously a restaurant – go figure.

I joined my friend Tracey who writes the Life Food Wine blog to check out Adams’ newest dining establishment. We had the bar entirely to ourselves until we were ready to leave at which point one of Boston’s best chefs, Ken Oringer, and his wife walked in the door. What can I say? I keep good company.

Photo Source: Porto Facebook Page

Photo Source: Porto Facebook Page

The restaurant has an open kitchen and several bars along with an outdoor, covered patio that has lounge furniture. We opted to sit at the long bar just to the right of entrance and enjoyed the undivided attention of a very helpful bartender who walked us through their menu which is almost entirely comprised of fresh seafood that changes frequently.

Most of the items offered are smaller plates and intended to be shared. I’ll be honest that this is generally a turn off for me, but I enjoyed the items we ordered and would certainly return based on how much I enjoyed what I ate.

porto-boston-olive-bread

Porto’s Olive Bread $3

Tracey and I started with two small plates: an olive bread ($3) that was served warm and looked like a funky pretzel as well as the raw hamachi ($16).  I’ve yet to meet a bread that I don’t like and I would recommend this for those of you who are not carb-phobic because it was nice to have alongside our other plates, but clearly the better of the two plates was the hamachi which rivals (if not is better than Ostra’s in the Theater District).  The Hamchi had a bit of a kick, that I believe was partly due to the use of paprika and a few other seasonings that we both really enjoyed but couldn’t place; definitely give it a try.

porto-boston-hamachi

Porto’s Hamachi $16

Dinner concluded with the Grilled Swordfish which was highly praised by our bartender and I’m happy to say lived up to the hype. Cooked to perfection, it sat atop sauce, grilled onions and green tomatoes (although I’m still convinced what was on my plate were figs – regardless of what the menu said). I should point out that we enjoyed a bottle of their Cote Mas Rose but if you are not partial to Rose wines,  Porto has an impressive wine list for you to peruse.

porto-boston-swordfish

Porto’s Swordfish $31

While Porto may not be for everyone, this is a restaurant you may want to put on your radar if you’re looking for an upscale, relaxing seafood restaurant.  Back Bay has very few such places, which I’m sure is one of the reasons Jody Adams wisely chose this slightly off the beaten path location. I wish Porto much success.

*Special thanks to my friend Tracey for sharing her photos.

Kava Neo Taverna in South End is a must try

Kava Neo Taverna South End BostonKava Neo Taverna is a tiny Greek restaurant that opened barely two months ago to the day on a quiet corner in the South End. I first started writing about the new restaurant late last year and eagerly awaited their spring opening.  In my opinion, no other restaurant opening in recent memory has so consistently heralded so much praise from so many and if you only read the first few sentences of this review, I’d like you to know you should go and check it out. The space is cutely decorated, includes a tiny outdoor patio and knowledgeable staff that are friendly and helpful if you are unfamiliar with Greek cuisine.

Most of Kava’s menu is small plates that are so delicious you will want to try a few. Their current menu has nearly twenty small plates you can have on your own or share that range from $6 – $16. On our recent visit we tried several small plates (all in the name of research) for this post.

Feta Psiti Kava Restaurant

Feta Psiti – $10

The Feta Psiti is served warm with feta wrapped in phlylo that is liberally sprinkled with sesame seeds and then bathed in honey; it is sweet and light to the bite. I found myself using my fork to ladle more honey over the phlyo and warm feta before eating it. Barely a sesame seed was left on the plate.

spanakopita kava restaurant

Spanakopita – $9

Following the sweet psiti we were served Spanikopita. I love this traditional Greek dish and this too was delicious and surprisingly large, despite the fact that we consumed it so quickly.  Our dish was served at room temperature and although I’ve usually had this served warm, on such a warm summer evening it was a welcome surprise.

Octopodi Kava Restaurant

Octapodi – $16

The grilled octopus turned out to be my favorite small plate of the evening. Sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil the slightly smokey flavor of the grill combined with the seasonings perfectly. I will absolutely order this again.

Roka Salad Kava Restaurant

Roka Salad – $11

Before sharing our main plate, we ordered one of the four salads on Kava’s menu. The roka salad shown above comes dressed in a lemon vinaigrette with arugula watermelon and walnuts. It was light, refreshing and perfect for a summer evening dinner.

mousaka kava restaurant

Mousaka – $20

Kava also has five entrees ranging from $20 – $32, including a mixed grill of lamb, chicken and sausage; lamb chops (of course); grilled sea bass; beef short rib; and mousaka (shown above). The mousaka is served in a large, colorful bowl hot from the oven. This was the best mousaka I have had in recent memory and will be a staple for me later this year when the weather gets colder.

With so many mediocre restaurants openings lately, Kava bucks the trend and is a most welcome addition, but the tiny tavern takes no reservations and can be tough to get a table. Should you go and find there is a long way, give them your number and head over to Boston Chops to grab a drink at their bar. You can relax comfortably while you plan on what you want to order and wait for them to text you that your table is ready.

Kava Neo Taverna is open 7 days a week until 11PM and located on the corner of Shawmut Ave and Union Park in the South End at 315 Shawmut Ave.

Michael C reviews South End restaurant S.R.V.

South End restarantItalian eateries may be a dime a dozen, but SRV, the new South End addition, is a welcome departure from the beaten path of red-and-white checkered tables and chianti bottle candleholders, says my culture and lifestyle correspondent, Michael C.

Oh great, another Italian restaurant in Boston! As if Cinquecento, La Motta’s and Stella, to name just three in the South End alone, aren’t enough. I always say that we need another Italian joint as much as we need another Greek one, complete with Ionian columns, the ubiquitous Greek Key on the wall and a statue of Hercules slaying the Hydra. In other words, we don’t.

Let me take that back. I’ll qualify my statement and clarify that, well, it depends on what kind of Italian we’re dealing with. Italian food has become such a broad and loose term it almost means nothing. There is, after all, a difference between chicken parm drenched in marinara and the authentic Italian fare (Venetian to be precise) offered at the Serene Republic of Venice, or SRV for brevity.

The food – dinner may start with decently-portioned – and priced – cicchetti (Italian for tapas or meze) that don’t leave you feeling ripped off at the palate or the pocket. These are creative, interesting and esthetically satisfying dishes, albeit on a menu peppered a little too liberally with esoteric Italian culinary terminology – you know, for the mandatory element of pomposity. After all, why bother dining out if you can just tell what every dish is comprised of without third party consultation, right? At SRV, the redeemer of this affectation is its purpose, namely to stimulate conversation between you and your server (in my experience, a very stylish, graceful and impeccably attentive young lady). The much-publicized fact that they mill their own flour is a nice touch that can actually be tasted in the outstanding pastas – this isn’t your college cafeteria spaghetti and whatever, I promise.

The ambience – the décor is more than just passable. It’s chic with the right amount of quirk. I liked the exposed brick (typically a little overdone these days), dotted with ceramic planters, although I would hang twice as many. I loved the pendant lights, seemingly made of repurposed crystal decanters and pitchers and was enamored with the tile-hardwood combo floor in the bar area, in my mind channeling the designer Paola Navone. I must say, however, that the color scheme left me longing for more. The velvet upholstery on the banquettes could have been forest green, rather than that ubiquitous steak house burgundy. But hey, you can’t have it all, can you. Overall, I liked it – a lot.

The bonus – even if I hadn’t enjoyed the food and space as much as I did, I’ll admit right now that a lot would have been forgiven on account of one specific feature that is really (and I mean really) up there in my books, namely the restaurant’s flawless acoustics. It was a full house, yet the place never felt loud. It was perfectly conducive to civilized conversation and the music, though unmistakably present, never intrusive or distracting. What a novel idea – rejoice! Now you can actually enjoy dinner and hold a conversation without screaming at the top of your lungs, as you have to at another South End hotspot with the worst acoustics ever – which of course will remain nameless 🙂

SRV – 569 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 02118
Telephone: 617-536-9500
www.srvboston.com

Michael CAbout the author:  A former banker, Michael C offsets the sobriety of his professional life with his passion for design, music, the arts and anything beautiful.

© Michael Constantinides 2016 – all rights reserved