Pellino’s: A Perfect Date-Night Spot

Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Italian, Marblehead | No Comments »

We’re often asked for a recommendation for a romantic night out, so we are happy to add another favorite to our list. Pellino’s in downtown Marblehead has all the essentials: a quiet side street in a quaint area, a small dining room, perfect lighting, terrific food, and low-key service. As though that weren’t enough, we were pleasantly surprised by the prices.

On a recent Saturday night, we were seated in the window of this lovely spot, where we sipped the house Chianti while surveying the menu. Our appetizers were both memorable: lightly fried calamari with a flavorful marinara ($10) and a generous portion of caprese (fresh mozzarella topped with tomatoes) accented with balsamic syrup, a dollop of smoked eggplant, and a crisp crostini ($9.50).

The pacing of the meal was just right, and our waitress was both friendly and attentive. Our entrees were as successful as the appetizers. The mushroom ravioli were the perfect combination of feather-light pasta and earthy mushrooms, accented by a light mushroom/cream sauce that contained more mushrooms ($18). The chicken parmesan was super crispy outside and extremely tender inside. It was accompanied by a large serving of perfectly sauced angel hair pasta ($18).

We had opted out of pre-ordering the bread pudding or molten cake for dessert, so our choices were limited. But we were in no way disappointed by the vanilla gelato with biscotti. The lavish portion of ultra-smooth ice cream went down easily accompanied by the crunchy, highly-flavored cookies.

Pellino’s has gotten a good deal of positive press in the past, and we’re pleased to be able to say it lives up to its reputation, providing a fine dining experience at reasonable prices in a romantic setting.

Pellino’s
261 Washington St, Marblehead
(781) 631-3344
www.pellinos.com

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A New Spin on Dinner and a Movie: The Warwick Film and Food Festival

Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Posts have been a bit light on the Dish over the past month, and I must fess up. I’ve been moonlighting on NSD (which is, in fact, moonlighting on my day job) to help the folks at the Warwick Theatre Foundation put together a fundraising event.

The WTF, as they are affectionately known, is a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the history of Marblehead’s original Warwick Theatre and creating a new, community-based, state-of-the-art movie theater. What many don’t realize is that Marblehead’s local commerce has taken a huge hit lately, with the closing of at least five storefronts this month alone. The Warwick folks feel a new theatre can become a community-gathering place, enliven downtown foot traffic, and boost the economy of surrounding businesses.

The Dish is partnering with WTF and many area restaurants to create the Warwick Film and Food Festival. It’s a tasting event with a twist: local chefs are asked to create offerings where each dish, drink, or dessert has been inspired by a favorite film.

Local celebrities will judge the event on presentation, taste, and film pairing, and attendees will select their own people’s choice winner. The evening includes alcoholic beverage tastings and a full roster of live music.

So far, the entrants have really piqued our interest. Some chefs, like Tony Bettencourt of 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar have yet to reveal their movie inspiration and are keeping us guessing. Others have got everyone buzzing with their choices, like Matt O’Neil of the Blue Ox, who registered for Silence of the Lambs. Other movies chosen include The Perfect Storm, True Grit, The Rum Diaries, and Tortilla Soup. Intriguing, to say the least.

As the event nears, we’ll publish a full list of participating restaurants, but mark your calendars now—this is shaping up to be a fun food event unlike all others, especially if you’re a film fan! The evening starts at 7pm on March 24 and takes place at the Tower School in Marblehead. Tickets and more information are available on the Warwick ‘s website. We are still accepting entries and warmly invite all local  chefs and restaurant owners to register here.

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Not Your Typical Coffee and Donuts

Posted: February 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Cherry Farm Creamery, Danvers, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, but ice cream for breakfast—in January, no less? Still, it was for a good cause, so off we went to Cherry Farm Creamery in Danvers this weekend. They were celebrating National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (who knew?) by serving special flavors on Saturday morning and donating half of the proceeds to the HAWC organization.

The creamery went all out for the event, making fresh waffles for waffle sundaes and coming up with great flavors like banana grape-nut and maple bacon, so we were glad to see a line out the door when we arrived. Yes, it was chilly, but it was also fun and thought-provoking. The maple ice cream with real bacon crumbled in was especially interesting, with a strong maple flavor mixing with that wonderful salty element.

Our waffle sundaes were amazing—the waffle soaked up the melting ice cream and mixed with the delicious hot fudge. The coffee ice cream with chocolate-glazed donuts mixed in truly put it over the top, and one of our party opted for the bacon topping. We didn’t try it, but there was a sundae option featuring a warm blueberry or strawberry Pop Tart, and in addition to bacon, toppings included granola, warm maple syrup, and warm blueberry sauce. Maybe we should have ice cream for breakfast more often…

Cherry Farm Creamery
210 Conant Street, Danvers
(978) 774-0519
cherryfarmcreamery.com

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A Tale of Two Brunches

Posted: February 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Breakfast, brunch, Cafe, Organic Garden Cafe, Tryst, Vegitarian/Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Extraordinarily for us, last weekend saw not one but two brunches, both in Beverly. On Saturday, we had relatives staying who wanted to go to brunch, and our favorite Wellesley student is vegan, so we let her choose the venue. She decided on The Organic Garden Café on Cabot Street, which not only serves vegetarian and vegan fare but largely raw foods as well.

The space is small and comfortable, and our waiter was attentive. We were offered both the breakfast and lunch menus and chose items from both, sipping our drinks while we waited for the food. The coffee was respectable; the hot cocoa, made from raw cacao, was super rich; but my favorite was the lemon ginger and raw honey tea. Blended fresh, it arrived frothy and hot and was a perfect antidote for winter weariness.

Our entrees ranged from “live”(dehydrated instead of baked) granola ($6) and quinoa porridge with agave nectar, cinnamon, cardamom, and raisins ($4 with additional toppings $1 each) to the Southwestern faux omelet on baby spinach ($7), made with a combination of ground nuts and veggies in lieu of eggs. We also tried the omelet, nausage patty, & crepe combo ($9) where a mix of sunflower seeds, flax, onion, portabella, and seasonings stand in for the sausage.

Clearly, the faux versions of traditional meat items are not meant to replicate the carnivore’s experience; they are fanciful takes using similarly spiced or textured food. Everything was extremely fresh tasting and well seasoned, and in the end, the savory foods with their layers of flavor won out over the sweet; the southwestern plate being a real standout.

The large case displaying great-looking desserts was enticing, but we were so sated that we opted to purchase a few treats to take home for later. Eschewing the cakes and cookies, we had to try the “I am Mighty” balls ($3.50) for the name alone. A dense combination of fruits, nuts, and seeds dipped in dark chocolate; it was like the ultimate protein bar—tasty, satisfying, and energizing.

On Sunday, we ended up back on Cabot Street just a few doors down from the Organic Garden, to meet a Beverly friend at Tryst. As one would anticipate, this meal offered a much more traditional brunch menu, including the standard Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Two of our party went for alternate benedicts; the spinach enhanced eggs florentine ($8) and the eggs royale ($11), with a generous portion of Scottish smoked salmon. Our third entrée was the French-style omelet with goat cheese, broccoli, and roasted red peppers ($9) and a side of bacon ($3.50)

The menu mentions that eggs are local, but isn’t specific as to the source. The omelet was huge, and the vegetables tender but a bit heavy on the peppers. The benedicts were lovely, with velvety lemon hollandaise and excellent quality smoked salmon. Each plate included a portion of hash browns and two huge orange wedges. The hash browns seemed an oddity; a small, dry half-patty that I wanted to be tastier than it was.

The weekend turned out to be a lesson in expectations. Having had lovely dinners at Tryst and heard good things about their brunch, our expectations were high. The meal was certainly tasty but didn’t knock our socks off. It’s a solid choice for those seeking a good brunch in a nice room (not as common as you’d think on the North Shore), but in future, we’ll stick to Manhattans and roast chicken at the bar.

My only assumption about Organic Gardrn Café was it likely had a “hippy-crunchy” vibe, which it did, though not oppressively so. The opportunity to sample foods I had never contemplated making at home made it very enjoyable. What fascinated me was not the raw aspect of the food, but the creative combination of textures and tastes. I found myself thinking about returning for lunch or dinner to explore more menu items.

Tryst
282 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 921- 2266
trystbeverly.com

Organic Garden Café
294 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 922-0004
organicgardencafe.com

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