Monday, July 30, 2012

Nix's Mate

Nix's Mate recently opened in the Financial District Hilton, replacing the forgettable Caliterra Bar and Grill. The former outdated space is rejuvenated by a 22 seat quartz bar, rustic walnut beams, pristine wood table tops and comfortable leather furniture. It's bright and sleek, with neutral earthy and gray tones, very of the moment. There's a minimalist touch with the decor points and a focused technique in the kitchen. Potted succulents, sepia toned photographs and stunning glass jar light fixtures accent gorgeous looking plates. Start with a Moscow Mule ($12) it's refreshing with a gingery kick served in a radiant copper mug; and then be sure to order the Fried Maine Lobster Caramel ($17). The sweet, fresh lobster meat - lightly crisped tail and claw play off the warm velvety caramel as it melts into creamy Vermont cheddar, highlighted with green onions and chilis. I'd love to know how the chef came up with this one, it's wildly creative.
I'm also particularly fond of the juicy, jam like blackberries in the Boston Bibb ($10) as they mingle with sturdy pecans, a creamy caramelized onion dressing and memorable cornbread croutons. Specials this evening also catch our eye, there's a large group of us and we're into trying a little of everything on the appetizers menu. Bacon Wrapped Scallop Skewers ($8) in maple butter come tightly wrapped and perfectly seared, dusted in fresh parsley. Fried Crab Cake Nuggets ($12) successfully accompany a summery salad of arugula, watermelon, roasted corn, thinly shaved beets, walnuts and a mustard aioli.  Both specials, I have a feeling, would do well on the regular menu. 
Spicy fried rock shrimp are an interesting match for salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, leeks and tomato gravy in The Harbor Island Flatbread ($14). Perhaps the cheese could have been more evenly dispersed and the crust slightly more firm and crispy, and while the rock shrimp on their own were good, they weren't very spicy as described. The Braised Veal Cheek "Pot au feu" ($14) is a mini interpretation of the classic French beef stew. I've never actually had pot au feu, regardless, the cheek was tender with a rich flavor thanks to the bone marrow broth, and baby roasted carrots and green beans brightened up the dish.
 Next, Polpete Vongole ($11) pairs tiny meatballs tossed in a red clam sauce with the briny clams themselves, overflowing from a large shell. Much like lobster and caramel, blackberry jam and bibb lettuce, ingredients are coupled that shouldn't work, yet do. I'm still not sold on fried shrimp and salami, though.  

Some members of my party who weren't particularly impressed with the appetizers would advocate desserts ($8 each) are what they're doing best. Cocktails aren't always on point, and the wine list doesn't offer much variety, but the final course nails it each and every time. From the Strawberry Shortcake with a duo of buttermilk accompaniments - the biscuit and the panna cotta, to a decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with olive oil, sea salt and Thacher farms cream, these creations are truly something special. The strawberry and vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches with chocolate and caramel sauces cascading down homemade cookies are not to be missed, and if your sweet tooth is raging, the Banana's Foster Bread Pudding with toasted marshmallow over homemade brioche should do the trick. 

Service was reliable, if not quiet and reserved, I have a feeling eight girls at a giant round table whipping out large cameras was somewhat intimidating! If nothing else, Nix's Mate is light years beyond its predecessor, it strives to impress with food that is inventive and approachable, and mostly succeeds.
Nix's Mate on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 27, 2012

sippin pretty.

Hope you enjoyed my North End wrap up week, which ends with some drinks!

black fig martini | Prezza
espresso martini | Artu
 champagne cocktail | Bacco
craft beer flight | Vito's
 dirty martini | Bacco
 aperol spritz | Mare
lemon pucker up | Caffe Paradiso

While not particularly innovative or breaking barriers in the Boston cocktail scene, this is a glimpse at what I loved to drink, where each bar or caffe associated lends a comfortable space to enjoy quintessential Italian or classic drinks and good conversation. These establishments (and oh so many more) give way to my memories and the neighborhoods variety, character, depth and beauty. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Regina Pizzeria

Why yes, it is the best of the best,* especially when piled with mushrooms and onions, accompanied by a pitcher of Moretti.

*I have multiple favorite pizza locations in the North End; see Galleria Umberto, Antico Forno and Ernesto's. But I do believe it to be true, Regina's brick oven pizzas are equally something special, as is their original, no frills establishment on the corner of Thacher and Endicott Streets. 

Pizzeria Regina on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Caffe Vittoria

Where robust LavAzza espresso, smooth with a bitter edge, comes brimming with foamed milk or whipped cream, coated in a thick blanket of sweet powdered cocoa, or a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, Caffe Vittoria offers some of the best Italian coffee and specialty drinks around. 
They prepare an elegant cup of cappuccino, which is even better with a Baileys cordial on the side, while the hot chocolate is pleasantly frothy and comforting, great with Frangelico. Specialty drinks like the Caffes namesake blend, which has Kahula, brandy and Tiramisu Liqueur already blended in are also a worthy choice. 
 Sipping a cup at a shiny marble table top it in the bustling atmospheric caffe that dates back to 1929 consistently lends a charming experience, an afternoon or evening to savor.
Caffe Vittoria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dino's Cafe

A neighborhood gem tucked on the corner of Salem and Prince Street, Dino's Cafe is a small, unassuming establishment offering quick, reliable service at casual eat in tables or for take out. The owners are some of the friendliest around. 
They have an extensive menu, all of it that I've tried (think - baked pastas, chewy gnocchi in house made sauce) is excellent, but I generally craved their specialty sandwiches, which come with any number of hot or cold ingredients on a fresh baked 16 inch baguette. It's a great deal at $9 a sandwich, which in my case, always turns out to be two meals! 
The one pictured is the Vegetarian, containing roasted red peppers, roasted plum tomatoes, caramelized red onions and balsamic glazed portabella mushrooms with mozzarella cheese. SIMPLY PREPARED AND IN THAT SOFT, FLUFFY AND JUST A TINY BIT CRISPY BAGUETTE, it's ONE large yet ELEGANT SANDWICH. From chicken pesto or a  cheese steak Italiano, to a caprese with fresh basil and mozarella or an Italian with quality imported meats, I've hardly paused a moment to photograph them all and definitely never took the time to give them their due praise. For a quick and affordable meal, Dino's is hard to beat. Luckily, still don't live too far away!
Dino's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reminisce

This week is for some favorites that never got the praise they deserved while I was living in the North End. From cappuccinos to serene street corners, it's the details that made it such a wonderful neighborhood to live. Enjoy the preview, lots more to come!
1 | Caffe Vittoria
2 | Fleet Street
3 | Dino's
4 | North Square
5 | Pizzeria Regina
6 | Parmenter Street 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brimfield Fair.

The Brimfield Fair will go down as one of my most cherished days of summer 2012. The small country town neighboring Sturbridge is home to the massive and well known tri-annual event. It is without a doubt an antiques lovers mecca, the treasure hunter seekers playground, and even the food (we ate breakfast and lunch) proves something special. 
 
My favorite purchase was a vintage Easy brand mangle (scored it for $30) a super heavy duty industrial piece which is now a kitchen counter / cookbook shelf / bar cart in my kitchen. Between my Mom and I, we came home with a car full of beloved wares for our homes and gardens, tired and coated in dirt, both fulfilled and enamored. Brimfield was at once hot, dusty, sticky, exhausting, delicious, fascinating and completely rewarding.