||[May. 30th, 2010|12:55 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
The BF & I reached our 12 anniversary together last week, so we made a date for tonight to go someplace nice & different. After debating where to go, we finally decided to wander into the North End to seek tasty sustenance. We got off at Park Street and ambled over to the North End, checking out the Greenway - we haven't been over that way in a while, so we wanted to see what they've done. It looks nice!
Unfortunately, despite our hopes that the rain would have driven them away, the tourists were out in full force with 20-foot-long lines outside of both Mike's and Modern Pastry. The new Lyndell's location had a respectable line as well.
Pomodoro's wasn't taking anyone without a reservation and we were feeling bored with going to our fallback restaurant again, so we wandered down North Street, which runs kinda parallel to Hanover Street, and ended up at Riccardo's Ristorante.
According to their business card, Richard Travaglione is the owner. I'm not sure if that was the guy at the door, but the staff clearly deferred to that fellow with lots of "sir" talk. It's a nice-looking place, with dark wood, big open windows, and tablecloths made out of actual cloth. There's a small bar across from the entrance and they had the Sox game on a small TV above the bartender's shoulder, with the sound off. There was music - at one point it was turned up for a really bouncy song, then turned back down so low that I only noticed it occasionally.
Their card has a nifty logo. They're on the Freedom Trail, so on the left side of the card is a wine glass tipping over and the curl of red wine turns into a ribbon across the card.
I started with a caprese salad, which was just fresh tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella slices and EVOO, then sprinkled with shredded fresh basil. We got some pepper, ground by the waitress, and we were off! Pretty good, actually. There were splashes of a rather thick balsamic vinegar on either side of the plate - might have been a reduction. Not enough fresh basil, though.
The bread arrived shortly after the caprese and it was a little sad. I could taste that it was fresh, but it was soft, white, and generic. The only thing "Italian" about it was that it had clearly been cut from a round roll. The EVOO on the table was OK.
For dinner, the BF had Penne con Pollo e Broccoli, which he enjoyed, and a nice glass of red wine. I had Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina. My gnocchi were impressive - perfect little pillows. I've heard that phrase before, but I've never actually HAD gnocchi that were perfect little pillows (and I've tried gnocchi at a dozen different places as well as home-made versions). Yum. I don't know what San Marzano tomatoes are, but they were pretty good. (Not the best sauce I've ever had, but quite good.) Again, not enough basil, but otherwise tasty. And the portions were normal-sized, rather than the ginormous sizes people have come to expect. Plating was well-done with decorative parsley bits around the rim.
He finished with tea while I had the chocolate mousse. Wow. Definitely the best chocolate mousse I've ever had, and I've had quite a lot. Served with whipped cream & chocolate sauce, which were nice but unneeded. The mousse was fluffy and super chocolatey and... just... really damn good.
It looks like folks on Yelp have either had very bad experiences there or very good ones. Nothing in between. Weird. Our experience was quite good. We didn't feel rushed, our food did not come too soon (I had not only finished my caprese, but had also cleaned the plate of balsamic vinegar with the bread) nor did we sit around waiting for a long time. The portions were normal-sized, if a bit expensive. Then again, we didn't get anything very difficult to prepare. The waitress was lovely. The plates were bussed quickly, but they didn't yank food out from under our noses. Maybe they roll out the good folks on Saturday nights? I dunno. I'd go back.