Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marco

I lived in the North End for four years and I have been recommending restaurants to friends and strangers ever since. In fact, it was one of the main reasons I started this blog, teemed with the fact that I enjoyed photographing good looking plates of food, just because. (Before it became so trendy that it wasn't - or more likely is I jumped on a bandwagon unknown to me at the time.) I digress. Even though I moved over the bridge to Charlestown, those tourist laden streets of Little Italy still beckon. I miss them. And I'm strangely, fiercely loyal to this neighborhood in all its classic Italian glory. It is a shame that I couldn't recommend Marco, Chef Marc Orfaly's intimate roman trattoria, sooner.

I have known about Marco all the while, it sits quietly unassuming on the busiest section of Hanover Street, perched on the second floor above Caffe Paradiso. As we made our way up the discreet staircase for the first time, entering the cozy nook of a dining room anchored by a working fireplace with elegant hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, antique rustic beams and only a handful of tables, I couldn't believe what I had been missing out on. Our window side table was romantic in its simplicity, set with white lilies in a Sanbitter bottle vase, a flickering tea light, and lending an ideal people watching view.
At a glance, their cocktail menu wasn't particularly intriguing, I noted standards (cosmo, bellini, mojito)  and decided to stick with a glass of Prosecco ($9). They don't have a full alcohol licence but make do with flavored spirits and liquor. Adam ordered their version of an Old Fashioned ($11) (think meets Negroni, with a Cherry flavored Whiskey) which made me think twice about passing one up, it was excellent! The small Italian wine list focuses on family run and boutique wineries. To pair with our entrees I chose the house Nero d'Avola ($26) a great value (about four glasses worth) offered by the carafe. 
After the atmosphere and the first round of drinks impressed, in swoops the bread course, a delightful gesture of bite size rosemary and garlic dusted foccacia squares served with house capponata containing olives, eggplant, onions and peppers, and the obligatory side of olive oil for dipping. 
The Antipasto di Marco ($18) is a revelation of handsomely presented, simple delicacies on a heavy wood board. A top a trio of delectable imported salumi consisting of sopressata, mortadella and salami sits neatly spooned heaps of a chickpea and carrot salad, marinated roasted red peppers, shredded eggplant, mashed tuna and tangy anchovies draped over white beans. Even more perfect bites, hot peppers stuffed with hunks of mozzarella, slices of creamy burratta and grilled bread. Finally, piled in the center is a mash up of pickles, olives, caperberries and pickled cauliflower. There is a tiny bar across the dining room which is mostly empty, and I immediately pictured myself returning just to sit there and snack on this. 
The pasta dishes are superb, elevated by house made meats. In my Orrichiette Alla Salsica ($25) with peas and favas, it's free form house made sausage, while Adam's Rigatoni alle Polpette di Maile ($25) features Berkshire Pork Meatballs in tomato gravy. We both went with full portions, I took plenty of leftovers home so depending on your appetite, or your next destination, you might consider a half for $14. 
We opted to move on for dessert, I was even feeling too stuffed for a cappuccino and tiramisu, which is so not like me.

Where simple romance is matched with exquisite Italian cuisine, Marco is the true definition of a North End hidden gem. Bravi! 
Marco Cucina Romana on Urbanspoon

11 comments:

Megan said...

Now I'm craving Italian food! I imagine every restaurant we go to in Italy being just like this. Everything sounds so incredibly delicious! Glad you are getting to spend some time in your old neighborhood!

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

i went there a couple years ago for restaurant week - so so good. def a hidden gem.

Michelle Collins said...

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic meal. I rarely make it into the North End for dinner, but it sounds like this is worth the trip!

In and Around Town said...

always looking for the tucked away North End restaurants - there are so many good ones, but great ones are always the best finds!

Amber said...

this looks like the kind of place I could lose track of time (and calories) in.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

This place is above Cafe Paradiso. My perfect night could be had within the confines of one building. Marco looks adorable!

Meghan said...

Everything looks amazing and is making me want our trip to Italy to be here now!

Simply Life said...

oh that appetizer platter looks so good!

Shannon said...

ooh my, you have my mouth watering at 8am :) looks fabulous!

Ameena said...

Looks amazing Daisy! I love the last shot...such a great picture of busy Boston.

Lin @ BeantownEats said...

Everything looks incredible, great review. I'd go in for that meat plate alone!