Restaurant Week. We have a love/hate relationship. I feel like a restaurant’s RW menu is very telling of its understanding of the value of customer growth and retention. If you find only cheap items, then you’re truly getting what you pay for. Whereas other restaurants pull out all of the stops or simply let you choose from their entire menu for the same fixed price. I always think the latter is wiser as it leads to a better diner return rate. Restaurant week should be about dazzling diners in the hopes that we’ll be back with our wallets full from the savings you offered us the last time.
Sadly, I’m compelled to think restaurants take the low road and jazz up some cheap cut of meat to make a nice margin on your meal. Alas, the charm of restaurant week and knowing the restaurant will be buzzing with activity has enough pull to get me to round up friends and get my wine and dine on.
Kim and Kate, my willing dining mates
‘Sup you beautiful, dippable bread morsel.
Bruschetta con Burrata e Speck
Grilled Bread, Burrata, Smoked Prosciutto & Pignoli-Currant Marmellata
Insalata di Cavoletti
Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Pancetta & Ricotta Salata
Polpette e Polenta (Restaurant Week Menu)
Veal and prosciutto meatballs with soft mascarpone polenta
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Veal, Pork, Pancetta & Parmigiano
Pollo e Farrotto (Restaurant Week Menu)
Roasted chicken breast with charred onions, farro risotto and rosemary jus
Panna Cotta di Ciacolatto (Restaurant Week Menu)
Chocolate panna cotta with toasted hazelnuts and amarena cherries
Torta di Ricotta e Ananas (Restaurant Week Menu)
Ricotta cheesecake with grappa soaked pineapples
Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. Kate, who ordered from the Restaurant Week menu, went so far as to say this may be her favorite Aquitaine group restaurant. Bravo, Cinquecento.
As for the food — burrata, it’s everywhere and I’m ok with that. Simple bruschetta topped with this gooey, milky cheese that was studded with oh so sweet current and punctuated with the salty speck made for a very nice first appetizer. I also stole a bite of Kate’s meatballs which were good and had a lot of flavor potential. They just needed a little extra sprinkle of salt, which was disappointing and surprising considering the addition of the prosciutto. The table also split a shaved brussel salad. Vegetables that include pancetta (think bacon) and ricotta salata are ok in my book.
Kim and I both ordered the tagliatelle bolognese. For starters, bolognese pulls on my heart strings. Always. I feel pangs of guilt if I leave a bolognese on the menu without ordering it. Why? Because I’m a fat kid at heart and rich meat sauce covering ribbons of pasta is my idea of heaven on earth. There I said it. The bolognese did not disappoint. Give or take a mouthful or two taken by Kate, I cleaned my plate. Still, my two top bolognese are from Sportello (Waterfront Boston) and Frank (East Village New York).
Kate ordered the chicken with farro risotto. I’m never one to order chicken in a restaurant. I fall into the snotty group of people who “don’t order what I can cook at home”. Well, that chicken was damn good. It was so moist and flavorful. Definitely NOT what I make at home.
We rounded off the meal with a chocolate panna cotta and ricotta cheesecake. Both were ok dishes, not great but that clearly didn’t stop me from picking at the cheesecake until it was all gone.
Our server left something to be desired unfortunately, but she definitely got an A for effort and somewhat awkward enthusiasm. If nothing else, hop over and grab a seat at their beautiful bar. Their small plates are delicious and anyone who has the gusto to decorate their space with pillars of Aperol and Campari deserves a visit or two.
500 Harrison Street
Boston, MA 02118
Occasionally, I’ll hear the faint jingle of the ice cream truck luring children to their ultimate ice cream demise. I know mine used to be the chocolate dipped chocolate cone. Long gone seem those days I would chase that truck down the street, waving my dollar in the air, pigtails bouncing to the pace of my quick strides. Like so many people I talk food with, I have such warm and wonderful childhood memories associated with these “kid” foods. Everyone has something. For me that something is traditional Thanksgiving foods, my grandpa’s spaghetti and meatballs, and broiled t-bone lamb chops. Interesting mix, I know.
Cafeteria Boston has capitalized on this principle. It’s called Cafeteria and although it boasts “Tray Chic” dining, I’d probably go on a limb and say it’s a little more tray than chic. The interior has a modern feel but the food options transport me back to my school cafeteria or my little Long Island home dinner table.
Hello Aurora and Cynthia!
Meatloaf – all natural grass-fed beef, mashed potatoes, spicy ketchup glaze
spaghetti and meatballs, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
grilled fontina, mozzarella, tomato, arugula served with tomato soup
I give the folks at Cafeteria brownie points for creativity. That being said, I was not blown away by their food. They have some really yummy bites — I have a real soft spot for tomato soup and grilled cheese so I’ll never diss that! However, I couldn’t eat all of Cynthia’s meal. My meatballs were a huge letdown. I wanted to feel like I was eating my Grandpa’s meatballs and spaghetti, which already is a high bar that’s been set. But I felt that experience is something Cafeteria is trying to deliver. The sauce was simple and nice, but the meatballs were so unbelieveably dry that even the tomato sauce couldn’t prevent my mouth from feeling the same way. I’m willing to forgive based on my judgment of this one dish, plus the nice orangy Lunch Lady was a nice cleansing way to wash it all down.
279a Newbury St
Boston, MA 02115