Monday, June 6, 2011

Fiore | Ristorante Damiano | Bacco

Embracing the warm summer weather, an evening out in the North End commenced with drinks on the Ristorante Fiore roof deck. The only one of its kind in the neighborhood, the hidden oasis sits tucked away in the back of the restaurant which is located at 250 Hanover Street. I drank a glass of Sangria ($10) to kick things off before friends and I ventured just a few doors down to Ristorante Damiano for dinner.The sun was shining in on the the giant floor to ceiling, wall to wall window at 307 Hanover Street. After a long snowy winter and an even longer dull and rainy spring, open window fronts are a site to behold. We settled right in with a bottle of Planeta La Segreta Bianco. This Sicilian white is a versatile five way blend of 60% Grecanico, 20% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier, 5% Sauvignon and 5% Fiano. Damiano's has an extensive menu featuring Piattini which are Italian small plates. Yes, it's tapas-style dining in our very own North End. However, these dishes look to offer more food than a traditional tapas plate and the prices certainly reflect that. The diverse menu offerings range from salad, to seafood, to pastas, meat and vegetables. We started with a simple Roasted Beet Salad ($10) containing peppery arugula, creamy goat cheese, toasted pignoli, and paper thin beets lightly drizzled in a blood orange vinaigrette. 
A plate of  slender Garlic Shrimp ($15) sauteed with lemon and thyme came out next. I associate ebi with Japanese cuisine, (ebi = shrimp in Japanese) usually in the form of tempura, but I love how they fused them into an Italian dish. A hearty bed of spinach comes alongside. 
You'll want extra bread on hand to dip into the pools of butter, garlic and lemon sauce, the flavors are simply wonderful. A traditional bowl of Carbonara ($11) made with pancetta, egg, parmigiano and cracked pepper was al dente deliciousness. I appreciated the bold use of cracked pepper as it worked nicely with the salty pancetta. Those parmesan and egg coated noodles were perfect. The Lamb Lollipop ($14) dipped in a pistachio crust with mint pesto, a rubio glaze and fruit Macedonia was my favorite.
I loved the presentation, the meat was juicy and tender and that pistachio crust was terrific.The Baby Eggplant ($12) offers ovals of fried Japanese eggplant with tomato sauce, Parmigiano, and basil. And note that this is Japanese Eggplant! I found it interesting that the Japanese influence shows up in a couple of dishes on the menu. Once again, this dish was full of simple but remarkable, spot on flavors. Same goes for the Braised Wild Mushrooms ($15) with garlic sage, cherry tomato, truffle oil and Parmigiano polenta. A bowl of Mussels Vapor ($10) presented steamed wild mussels in a white wine, garlic and lemon broth to round out the meal.
The bustling space is small and cozy enough to know you're in the North End, but a polished modern interior and food the opposite of a classic heaping plate of pasta in red sauce makes you forget that you actually are. Piattini at Ristorante Damiano proves that Italian food can be diverse and eclectic. This was my second time dining here and the service remained consistent and the food as good as I remembered. 
Ristorante Damiano on Urbanspoon

A proper evening in the North End can't end without dessert! Damiano leaves that to the experts. Meaning, they don't serve it but rather they encourage business to their neighboring pastry shops and gelaterias. We debated - gelato because its finally warm enough, or cannolis because it's just what you do!?
Umm, does a Caipirinha ($10) count? ;) We decided more drinks were in order and I lead the group to one of my longstanding favorites, Bacco. We sat at a table on the first floor opposite the bar, the warm breeze blowing in through the large windows overlooking Parmenter street. I'm grabbing drinks (and $5 appetizers on weeknights) fairly often at Bacco's bar, yet somehow it has escaped the blog in its entirety! I am a big fan of their versatile drink menu and the staff is always pleasant and accommodating. Bacco is not a bad place to spend a night out around here, not bad at all.


{Update: As of January 12, 2012 Ristorante Damiano reopened as Carmellina's under the same ownership with the same executive chef to feature traditional size plates. Read more in this Boston Globe article.}

16 comments:

  1. Perfect way to spend a warm and sunny night!

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  2. Oh yum yum yum! The pasta looks so good!

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  3. Sounds like a great night! The shrimp look perfectly garlicy. I often enjoy a solid caipirinha for dessert ;)

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  4. That lamb chops looks amazing! Great way to spend a warm night

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  5. I've heard such great things about the Fiore roof deck. I want to go there!

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  6. i need to stop reading your blog way before lunch...lol, makes me SO hungry. I have been to fiore for drinks but not food- all of this food looks yummy!

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  7. As you know, I love Bacco. The Japanese eggplant dish sounds yum! I'll have to give that a whirl.

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  8. It's Monday morning and I could use some sangria and a beet salad like no other. oy

    xo,
    C

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  9. I really need to try ristorante damiano... I love the small plates! There are so many places where I just want to try everything on the menu. The shrimp looks AMAZING! And those lamb lollipops with a pistachio crust?! WOW!

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  10. I'd kill for a glass of that Sangria right now!

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  11. Perfect way to spend a night! Thanks for showing us some great spots in your neighborhood. I think the eggplant was my favorite dish, but the lamb lollipops are a close runner-up!

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  12. that buttery garlicky lemony goodness looks spectacular! You always dine at the coolest places. I wish I could find restaurants like this in my town....maybe I would eat out more :)

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  13. I love Fiore and now I'm totally craving that sangria! Everything about Ristorante Damiano looks delish, especially the carbonara!

    Also, I was just looking at the blog below yours in my Google Reader and thought it was you... the subject of the post was "pregnancy update" and I was like what?!?!?! Phew!

    Sues

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  14. I loved having Italian small plates! Thanks for organizing a great evening in your neighborhood!

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  15. That sangria just screams summer! The parmesan and egg-coated noodles look amazing - I'm pretty sure I'd scarf that right up.

    I have to say, you are making people like me fall in love with Boston from afar!

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  16. Those lamb chops look GREAT.

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