Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tresca

Saturday night I remained happily in the company of my fun-loving family members. After traveling back at various times from New Hampshire, we reconvened at my apartment for some apertivi before making the walk over to Tresca Restaurant for a 7:30pm dinner reservation. The manager greeted us warmly and made friendly conversation as fourteen of us trickled in off an ever-crowded Hanover Street. We were lead up an elegant marble staircase to the second floor and settled into a table that ran the length of the balcony front windows. Tresca was bustling with a romantic yet lively energy, the restored old world Tuscan Villa atmosphere was a scene everyone could appreciate.
source
Our waiter introduced himself, announcing a prix fix menu option for large parties ($65 per person) which included shared family style appetizers, followed by a pasta course, entree course and dessert course each. We were immediately sold as a group! What can I say, a love for food runs in the family. We drooled over the cocktail menu next, some of us choosing to start with martinis ($11). From my Aunt's White Grape Cosmo to my cousins Pineapple-tini to my classic Dirty Martini, all were well crafted.

The signature antipasti plates were plentiful beginning with the Polpette di Vitello consisting of crispy veal meatballs served with pomodoro and poached garlic and basil dipping sauces. These were excellent, easily the star of the antipasti plates. The Calamari Fritti garnished with pomodoro and spicy aioli sauce was a suitable preparation. I didn't care for the Spiedini di Agnello which are southern Italian marinated and grilled Lamb skewers; the flavors didn't hit home for me, neither did the texture of the lamb. Our secondi course consisted of a Rigatoni Bolognese. The pasta at Tresca is handmade daily and the large coils of rigatoni were done to a perfectly toothsome al dente. The traditional northern style veal and pork ragout was hearty and flavorful, enriched with pancetta and tomatoes. The dish was finished with melted Parmesan cheese dusted with thinly sliced strands of basil. It was everything I would expect from a great bolognese, rustic with a refined simplicity.
Service tonight was sufficient but not standout. I thought our waiter was pleasant, but not 100% on the ball. Normally, I wouldn't gripe about service woes for a party of fourteen, but for what Tresca aims to be - a fine dining establishment charging prices to fit the bill, I held them accountable to a higher standard. (For example, clearing plates timely in between courses.) Perhaps I set my expectations too high, since I know certain restaurants in the North End won't even consider taking reservations for parties as large as ours on a Saturday evening or at all.
My principali course was a disappointment entirely. The Selvaggio della Sera which is the chefs hand selected game special was Duck served with pear au jus, a rosemary polenta cake and pear salad. The waiter made sure to question if the chefs preparation of the duck medium rare would suffice. Duck cooked to medium rare is ideal, I was happy to oblige. The duck served to me was rare, with certain slices border-lining on completely raw in the center. The polenta cake was underwhelming and the sad looking pear slices were just that. 

No one around me had this entree, but once I finally looked down to the other end of the table, my Mom and Aunt Cheryl were sending their duck back. At that point I had already poked an prodded and didn't have it in me to send mine back too, but I am glad they both did. Others who ordered the Seared Sea Bass, were the lucky recipients of a superb fish entree. They sang its praises. I did try a few bites and concurred with its greatness. The Lobster Gnocchi (ordered by Adam and a few others) wasn't quite up to par. The usually plump and pillowy dumplings were tiny and meek in appearance and rather soggy in texture, overwhelmed by a thick cream sauce. 
The traditional slices of Tiramisu for dessert were delicious, the espresso soaked lady fingers layered with rum infused mascarpone hit all the right notes. 
I still smile about the cocktails and the veal meatballs and the rigatoni bolognese, even after a pretty terrible entree. What I am trying to say is, while Tresca did manage to hit some high points, I was disappointed with the experience overall. In a fiercely competitive neighborhood you need to consistently deliver in order to become worthy of long lasting praise. You need to shine in every aspect of the experience and Tresca fell short. 
Tresca on Urbanspoon

18 comments:

  1. Eesh, lots of strikes for Tresca. They should know better than to cross the empress of North End dining ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so cheap I would be soooo disappointed if I opted for the prix-fix price and was not blown away by the service and food. How frustrating but at least the family time was fun : )

    ReplyDelete
  3. Big parties are tough, but I agree - a high end place with a menu for that type of party should be able to handle it! Looks like you had a fun night just being together, which is always fun! Mamma Maria really is that good isn't it :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh man, too bad this place didn't rise to the occasion, especially with all your family in town. At least everyone remained cheerful!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That duck does look a bit too rare, so sorry about this not-so perfect main course. The tiramisu for dessert looks scrumptious though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I find Tresca to be hit or miss. My friends always want to go there for some reason though. Blerg.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Daisy ~ you nailed this review. Despite the downfalls we all had an amazing time. Thank you for bringing us all together in the North End. Love You!

    ReplyDelete
  8. aww thank you to whoever anonymous family member that may be. (Mom?)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Eek! I'm sorry it was such a rocky dining experience, but it sounds like you were in great company and that you all made the most of it.

    So good to catch up on your delicious posts again!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really like this balanced review. It's good to know the highs and the lows, and I'm sorry Tresca didn't seem to do so well with a group.

    Also, I must go to Mamma Maria.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really appreciate this honest review, especially since the North End is a place where there are a lot of restaurants to choose from!

    ReplyDelete
  12. such a shame when a high end restaurant like that falls short. When you charge prices like that your food should be nothing short of spectacular. At least you and your family still managed to have a good time.

    ReplyDelete
  13. the bolognese and tiramisu are right up my alley- yum!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am sorry your food was not great, but at least you were with a great group!

    ReplyDelete
  15. ooh, yeah, some fails, but glad you had a great time with the family :) and i love that your whole family is all about the food!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am still dreaming about the veal meatballs, they were so amazing! All the apps were delicious and filled me up so I didn't notice too much about the lobster mac not being up to par!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I need to stop reading your blog before dinner!

    ReplyDelete