Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Restaurant Week: Vinoteca di Monica

Tuesday night Adam and I were joined by my sister, Leah, and her boyfriend, Tray for a double date night in honor of Restaurant Week.
Leah picked Vinoteca di Monica because in addition to the restaurant week menu looking scrumptious, they offered a wine pairing with each course for $48. Dinner began with a rustic bread basket accompanied by a delicious white bean hummus spread laced with fresh herbs. Monica's switches things up a bit where instead of offering the traditional restaurant week menu of an appetizer, entree and dessert; they unveil a menu with an appetizer, a pasta course and a hearty entree course. Seeing as the North End is bustling with pastry shops and gelaterias from which to enjoy dessert, this traditional Italian course menu is a welcome option.
For my appetizer I chose the Caprese di Bufala Mozzarella ~ Imported Buffalo Mozzarella layered with vine ripened tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil. The moist buffalo mozzarella sandwiched between robust salty tomatoes, topped with generous strands of basil and cracked pepper, plated over a pool of high quality olive oil was a standout as far as Caprese salads go. This course was paired with a delicate Pinot Bianco.
Tray and Adam both choose the Bruschetta ai Pecorino ~ Grilled rustic bread, tomato oil, baby arugula, shaved Percorino Romano for their appetizer and the Fettuccini con Salsiccia ~ Fettuccini pasta with sausage ragout for, naturally, their pasta course. They raved equally about both choices. Leah and I chose the same pasta course, the Panzotti di Spinaci e Ricotta ~ Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli with tomato and basil sauce. I throughly enjoyed the paper thin ravioli triangles filled with sweet ricotta and warm spinach bathing in a light tomato basil sauce, topped with shaved slices of Parmesan. This was a simple dish that was executed perfectly. The drizzle of olive oil ring around the ravioli was a lovely presentation.
The pasta course was paired with a classic Chianti.
For my third course, along with Leah and Adam, we chose the Filleto di manzo ~ Beef tenderloin medallion, garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach.The third course proved to be an incredible finale of meat and potatoes served with a full bodied Sangiovese. The beef tenderloin was bathed in a luxurious and flavorful brown sauce laced with garlic and caramelized onions. The mashed potatoes were a complimentary side, nothing overly exciting but they served their purpose. The sauteed spinach was just delightful, their lightness a welcome compliment to the heavier elements on the plate. Tray was the only one to choose the (unpictured) Caposante alla griglia ~ Grilled diver scallops, white bean salad. He loved it!

Everything I ate tonight was impressive. Dishes were executed with an acute attention to detail and prepared with the freshest high quality ingredients. I felt we truly got our monies worth for restaurant week, to boot. Our waiter was extremely personable, he made us feel welcome by cracking jokes here and there while possessing a keen knowledge of the dishes and the wine pairings.

Our cozy table next to the windows overlooking quaint Richmond Street felt like the best seat in the restaurant. However, plenty of open air window side dining exists inside. The scene at the dimly lit intimate wine bar makes for a lovely evening as well (my only previous encounter.) Vinoteca di Monica is surely a worthy contender for the daunting task of deciding where to dine when you visit Boston's North End.
Monica's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Post three course meal, we were not too stuffed to pass on cannolis and grabbed a box to-go from Modern Pastry.
Lust inducing homemade cannolis hand filled on the spot; where chocolate coated edges are busting at the seams with sweet ricotta cream and topped with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar, the best way to wrap up a night in the North End is with the best cannolis in the North End. Modern's will surely not disappoint!

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