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Mmmm, the North End

The North End is filled with such a wonderful selection of Italian restaurants. However, because of the long and cold winter, I’ve never ventured over there that often. But, after a beautiful and warm (for Boston anyway) spring day, I grabbed my husband and said, “Let’s go and see what this wonderful Italian scene is all about.” We weren’t disappointed. I came home with treats from the famous Mike’s Pastry Shop and leftovers from Marcuccio’s.

We decided to explore for a while before sitting down to eat. I wanted to check out Hanover Street in detail and see what all the hype was about. People were bustling everywhere – and with all the restaurants and bakeries to choose from, I could understand why.

Marcuccio’s is on Salem Street, a less populated street (though charming indeed) that runs somewhat parallel to Hanover. We were delighted with our table, as we were seated close to the window in this intimate and romantic restaurant that was quite busy for a weekday night. Immediately, we were greeted by a very friendly and mature server who proved to be extremely helpful and attentive throughout the evening.

To start, she brought us fresh Traditional Foccaccia and Tuscan-Style Artesian Bread and a white and garbanzo bean pur‚e with basil and olive oil. The Tuscan bread had a sweet flavor and tasted delicious on its own as well as with the flavorsome bean pur‚e.

We were very impressed by the menu selections, and we were pleased to discover that all pastas, breads, and desserts are made on the premises and that the chef, Roberto Dias, uses only the freshest ingredients available. The chef also prepares meals as healthy as possible by avoiding the use of butter and heavy creams.

We began our meal by sharing the Seared Sea Scallops with a Tomato, Mint and Zinfandel Wine Vinaigrette on a bed of Yam Pur‚e, and we were delighted to see that the chef had prepared a special plate for each of us. I noticed that our server had handpicked the herbs that adorned our plates. The scallops were terrific, as was the vinaigrette and yam pur‚e.
For dinner, I ordered the Asparagus and Artichoke Risotto in a Roasted Garlic Broth, and Kevin got the Pappardelle with Saut‚ed Wild Mushrooms and Roasted Portobello in a Truffle Porcini Jus. The risotto was cooked to perfection and the asparagus tips were huge and tasted delicious. The pappardelle, while very good, was a bit heavy on the mushrooms. Both dishes were definitely prepared very healthfully, and the fresh taste of the vegetables was surely noticed.

Even though we had some treats from Mike’s Pastry Shop, we decided to save those for the following day and order dessert here since the Homemade Peach Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and the Zuppa Inglese Gelato sounded mouthwatering. However, they were a bit of a disappointment. The peach bread pudding was plain and a little too eggy. The gelato tasted great and brought back holiday memories with its eggnog flavor. But, it was nothing like the gelato I had grown accustomed to while living in Milan.

Marcuccio’s is a lovely and intimate restaurant decorated with traditional Italian flare. There’s no bar and the majority of tables are set for groups of four. The service is exceptional, and the food is fresh and well prepared. With the weather warming up, I suggest you grab a friend or two and give it a try!

April 23, 2001
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