I Pazzi: We Wanted to Love You, But We Just Couldn’t

Posted: November 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Danvers, I Pazzi, Italian | No Comments »

A series of service missteps and kitchen issues added up to a very disappointing meal last weekend at I Pazzi in Danvers. We had heard good things about their authentic Italian food, but we had serious issues with flavor, among other things.

The menu looked very interesting, with traditional Italian fare mixed with the somewhat more exotic, including pasta with pheasant or wild boar meat sauce. We ordered a bottle of chianti, and our bread plates were filled with an artistic blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.

But as we waited for our appetizers, which took more than 30 minutes to appear, we also waited for bread to dip into the oil. After we reminded the waitress, she brought warm rolls in the style of scali bread. A nice touch, although not appreciated by those in our party who dislike sesame seeds. Our appetizers were just okay, a very small timballo of eggplant that needed more flavor or at least texture ($8), and clams and mussels with a nice sauce for dipping the bread ($10).

With the exception of the osso buco ($29), which was tender and had good flavor, there were issues with all of our dishes. The beef filet was tender and cooked properly, but the peppercorn/cognac sauce was bland ($30), as was the garganelli with pheasant ($25). The salmon filet was wildly oversalted on top, although the rest of the filet was tender and quite good ($22). The thin slice of polenta underneath the salmon had no flavor at all. The asparagus on several plates, along a side dish of spinach, was delicious.

The menu description of the filet did not mentioned any accompaniments, so we asked and were told it came with asparagus and potatoes. But when the plate arrived, there were no potatoes; they were also missing from the veal shank plate, and no explanation was given. When we asked, we were told they had run out of potatoes, with no offer of a substitution. A couple of minutes later, the waitress returned and offered us polenta or pasta as a substitute, so we said we would try one of each. Neither had any flavor, so we were again disappointed.

With so many options for great Italian food on the North Shore, we’re a bit puzzled as to why the dining room was packed full (although, granted, it was a Saturday night); we certainly won’t be returning any time soon.

I Pazzi
50 Maple St, Danvers
(978) 777-1955


Upcoming Events: November Noshing

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

How crazy is it that we’ve got summer-like weather at the start of November after a snow storm in October? We’re just happy to enjoy a little Indian summer before the holiday craziness sets in, and we’ve got some great food events for you to enjoy before the turkey and gingerbread take over.

First, don’t forget that Salem Restaurant Week started on Sunday and will run for two weeks (through Nov 17, not including Fridays and Saturdays). Participating Salem area restaurants will offer either a two-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $15, a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $25, or both (price does not include drinks, taxes or gratuities). The Salem Chamber of Commerce just announced the late addition of Red Lulu to the list, so now’s your chance to check out Salem’s newest eatery.

On Friday the 11th, Salem Wine Imports hosts its Third Annual Grand Tasting. This year it’s being held at Colonial Hall, Rockafella’s new function space, and proceeds will once again benefit Historic New England’s Phillips House; Historic Salem, Inc.; and the Salem Athenaeum. There will be more than 100 wines available for tasting, light appetizers, and live entertainment from a classical trio.  Tickets are $35 for the general public and $25 for members of the beneficiary organizations. Tickets are available at Salem Wine Imports, located at 32 Church St. This event does sell out, so advance tickets are strongly suggested.

 It sounds like Matt O’Neil and company really know how to throw a party. On Monday the 14th, head over to the Blue Ox in Lynn to Shuck, Taste, & Nosh. They’ll have CJ Husk from Island Creek Oysters on hand shucking shellfish,  wine pro Jerry Castleman pairing wines with the oysters, and Chef O’Neil will whip up a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased in advance by calling (781) 780-5722.

 On Tuesday the 15th, area chefs, restaurants and business owners once again come together to host Take a Bite Out of Trafficking.  The fundraiser, held at the Ipswich Country Club, features culinary samples, live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and movie screenings. Participating restaurants include 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Tryst, 15 Walnut, Adriatic Restaurant & Bar, Ipswich Country Club, Mr. India, Green Land Café, Ipswich Inn, Off the Vine, Bistro 45, and 43 Church.

All proceeds from the event will go to help nonprofits in their fight to end human trafficking. Donations will benefit women and girls from Nepal to India in the form of medical emergency care, wellness visits, vocational training, and basic housing. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door, with a cash bar. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.tabootrafficking.org.








The Best Thai Restaurant You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted: November 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Marblehead, Thai Market | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

When an acclaimed local chef tells you to check out a new restaurant, you know it’s worth investigating. In our case, the chef was Barry Edelman of Five Corners Kitchen and the restaurant was Thai Market in Marblehead. Located on Hawkes street in the old Sticky Rice location, Thai Market is owned by chef Tom Kanchananaga and his wife. And we’ll confess, since Barry recommended it a few weeks ago, we’ve eaten there or ordered takeout three or four times already. It’s that good.

What makes Thai Market worth return visits? The freshness and quality are amazing. The chef makes everything fresh on site; the shumai ($6) are a perfect example. Shumai ordered at most Asian restaurants are exactly the same; prefab and predictable. Thai Market’s are handmade, so both the texture and flavor are more intense.

The satay skewers ($5) are small, but the meat is tender and perfectly grilled, and the Paper Shrimp ($6) are crispy tasty morsels that don’t need a drop of plum sauce. The Tom Yum soup ($4) is delicious, with an addictive, spicy lemongrass broth.

The entrees are where Thai Market really shines, though. Chef Kanchananaga is a master at making sauces that are lush but not heavy, and he packs every dish with gorgeous vegetables. We’re not talking the standard onions and peppers here. He uses fat sugar snap peas, fresh zucchini, squash, crisp green beans, bok choy, and even crunchy lotus root. One of our favorites so far is the Seafood Panang ($16) that features both shrimp and tender scallops along with those veggies in a medium spiced red curry.

We also tried the Ginger Fish ($18), red snapper served whole, crispy and savory on the outside and delicate and flaky on the inside. The Vegetable Drunken Noodles ($11) featured a symphony of veggies with a pleasing spicy basil garlic sauce. Even an old standard like Pad Thai ($11) is a little different, with the noodles slightly more al dente, so it’s got a lovely bite.

They don’t serve alcohol yet, but were just approved by Marblehead’s Board of Selectmen for a beer and wine license, so as soon as the paperwork goes through, they will be adding it to their offerings. In the mean time, the Thai Iced Tea ($2) is worth consideration.

So far, Thai Market hasn’t garnered much attention from the locals, so we urge you to head over and try it out. Chef Kanchananaga is just starting out and can’t support much of a staff yet, but don’t be put off if there’s a bit of a wait. Your meal will be worth it. And if you run into Barry Edelman picking up dinner for his family, tell him we said hello.

Thai Market
26 Hawkes Street, Marblehead
(781) 990-3765

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