62 Turns 5

Posted: January 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem | Tags: , , | No Comments »

There are a lot of reasons we were excited to be invited to the first of three dinners to celebrate 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar’s fifth anniversary. First, it promised to be a fun night of reminiscing on five years of success and how it came to be. Second, we have never forgotten how Chef Tony Bettencourt bravely led the way to a local food renaissance when he opened a fine-dining restaurant at a time when the North Shore was known only for pubs and clam shacks.

The third reason, of course, was the food. And it did not disappoint. The theme for the dinner was inspiration—dishes that reflect the journey that Bettencourt took from restaurant work and culinary school to ultimately becoming a chef/owner (with a six-year detour into truck driving, of all things).

The first course was a delightful, varied antipasti with house-cured salumi, roasted beets topped with sea salt, pickled mushrooms, and sweet and sour cippoline onions. While we sampled, Chef Bettencourt told us about the early days of his journey, ending with an unexpected shift to Italian food (he had trained almost exclusively in French cuisine). From a photo he saw of an antipasti table in a trattoria, he began his journey into a cuisine he adores and works every day to master.

Next was the pasta course, harking back to a meal Bettencourt and his wife ate on a culinary tour of Tuscany. Both the tortelli di patate and mushroom tagliatelle were spot on in terms of flavor and texture. We then received an extraordinary seafood dish that Bettencourt described as his twist on fennel citrus salad and reflective of the way he likes to cook now. Shaved fennel was topped with green olive tapenade, crispy prosciutto (house made), a perfectly seared sea scallop, and a spicy pickled grapefruit segment. Not only was the grapefruit a completely new sensation (spicy? grapefruit?), but the various elements came together to create a perfectly balanced dish.

The meat course consisted of house made garlic sausage, hanger steak thinly sliced and topped with salsa verde, and pork ribs over roasted fennel and potatoes. All three elements were extraordinary—so full of flavor and melt-in-your mouth tender, especially the rib. Bettencourt again explained that his style is to bring out the flavors of food rather than overwhelm them with sauces or extraneous components.

We ended the meal with tiramisu, once again with a twist. Rather than a layered dessert served as a rectangular slab, this was house-made ladyfingers completely saturated with espresso and rum topped with a delectable mascarpone cream sauce. Yes, we’ve all had our fill the ubiquitous tiramisu and, no, none of it tasted like this.

The best news about this dinner is that it’s the first of three in a celebratory series. The second dinner takes place on Wednesday, February 20 and will feature dishes from 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar’s very first menu. The final meal is Fan Favorites, on March 20. Diners are voting now for their favorite dish from the past five years on Facebook, and the winning dishes will appear on that evening’s menu. The dinner is $62 per person, not including tax or tip. Learn more about the dinners and information on reservations on their website.

Chef Bettencourt’s five-year anniversary made us realize that we launched North Shore Dish just over four years ago. Boy, has the North Shore restaurant scene blossomed since then! Happily some things haven’t changed: one of our earliest posts described a fantastic dinner we had at 62.

62 Restaurant & Wine Bar
62 Wharf St, Salem
(978) 744-0062

Share

North Shore Nostalgia: Remembering the General Glover House

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

I am one of four siblings, and with six at the table during dinner when I was growing up, things could get rowdy at times. Upon seeing a display of shocking manners, my father would shake his head and say, “You’ll never get to the General Glover that way.”

For years, the General Glover remained a mythic place in our minds—a posh eatery we were sure to be kicked out of. However, like many who lived on the North Shore, we did end up going to the General Glover for various celebratory meals over the years.

Named after the famed Revolutionary War general who was born in Salem and lived in Marblehead, the General Glover was an upscale steak house on Route 1A in Swampscott. It was opened in 1957 by restaurant legend Anthony Anathas. (Anathas opened Anthony’s in Lynn in 1937 and Hawthorne by the Sea in Swampscott in 1946. He would go on to open Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston in 1963.)

Theme restaurants flourished across American roadsides in the 1950s, and the General Glover reflected New England’s favorite theme: the colonial inn. The vast Essex Room featured a huge fireplace, seascapes, and exposed beams hung with all manner of lanterns and copper pots. As kids, we loved that the waitresses were dressed in colonial style, with long dresses and aprons topped by a frilled white cap.

During meals, there was a battalion of those waitresses making their way around the dining room offering various foodstuffs from baskets or trays. The popovers were legendary—fresh, hot, and crisp. The menu consisted of standard steak house fare, and I recall everything being quite good, especially the prime rib, but those popovers are forever remembered as a paragon of baked goods.

The General Glover closed in the late ’90s, and the building has been standing derelict ever since. The Anathas family still owns the property and sporadically uses some of the buildings on it, but the restaurant stands as a deserted reminder of the past. Walking by it recently, we saw the old captain’s chairs stacked by a window, ghosts of the once memorable Essex Room.

Fortunately, the building hasn’t become a hazard like its counterpart in Lynn. City officials have been trying to get the Anathas family to address the crumbling vacant building that once housed the original Anthony’s and has become a danger to pedestrians. It’s mystifying that they have let these properties fall into disrepair.

While I have no idea what the future holds for the General Glover House property, I am happy I that had a chance to be a part of its past.

Share

Enzo Chef Draws Culinary Inspiration from the Great Molasses Flood

Posted: January 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Enzo, Event, Newburyport | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 fascinates many of us that grew up in the Boston area. And why not—the idea of an eight- to 15-foot wave of molten sugar syrup that and ravaged a couple of city blocks is pretty amazing. (There was a great pictorial in last week’s Globe.)

Chef Mary Reilly, owner of Enzo Restaurant & Bar in Newburyport is no exception, and she has taken her interest to a new level. Each year on the anniversary of the flood, she creates dishes with molasses to commemorate the event. When she opened the Enzo almost two years ago, she continued the tradition and offers diners a special menu for the occasion.

We caught up with Chef Reilly this weekend and asked her what spurred this connection for her. She told us that she likes unusual anniversaries and this one is especially interesting due to the molasses and because of the Italian immigrants in the North End who were affected.

“Even though the molasses in question was destined for industrial alcohol distillation, not consumption, molasses is an ingredient that doesn’t get a lot of respect these days,” she said. “I like to show its versatility, and this event gives me something to tie it to.”

So what will she be serving on Tuesday, the 94th anniversary of the disaster?

First, a Spiced Molasses Toddy will be on offer featuring Gloucester’s Folly Cove Rum, spices, molasses, and butter. (Hot Buttered Rum Day is January 17: start your celebration a few days early!)

On the savory side, Reilly will be serving a non-traditional bruschetta with house made Anadama bread (the traditional Cape Ann bread made with molasses), house butchered and smoked ham, taleggio, and molasses mustard.

And for a sweet end to their meal, diners can indulge in molasses cookie ice-cream sandwiches.

Whether you’re a Molasses Flood enthusiast or just interested in sampling unique menu items, head over to Enzo on Tuesday for a taste of history.

Enzo
50 Water Street, Newburyport
(978) 462-1801
www.enzo-restaurant.com

Share

In Pursuit of Pho at Peabody’s Triple 888

Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Peabody, Pho Triple 888 | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Deciding to dine at this Peabody eatery may have you second-guessing yourself. First off, there’s the name. Pho Triple…wait, what? Triple 888. Apparently in Chinese culture the number 888 is lucky and brings prosperity, so why not triple your luck?

Second, the restaurant sits in a small strip mall on Route 1 in Peabody next door to a tattoo shop, and its dining room is quite drab.

The food, however, dispels all reservations. The large menu features mostly Vietnamese and Thai dishes with a few Chinese specialties thrown in.

We started with fresh spring rolls that included grilled chicken with the usual vermicelli, lettuce, and Asian basil ($4.95). They were light and lovely, and the peanut sauce accompaniment was not too sweet.

A bowl of Pho sounded the thing to fight the January chill, and we were not disappointed. The Tai Gan, a beef pho with rare steak and well-done flank ($7.45 for a large) was delicious. The steak arrived at the table rare and slowly cooked in the steaming soup. The broth was rich and complex with a pleasing umami.

The Mi Hai San, a seafood soup with vermicelli noodles ($7.95) was lighter but still savory, aromatic, and very filling.

The third dish we tried was the Bun Tom Noung, which featured grilled shrimp nestled on a bed of rice vermicelli and veggies ($8.75). The shrimp was firm and flavorful, and the vegetables fresh and crunchy.

We left the table pleased with the meal and the prices. We were not so impressed with the bathroom or the murmuring old TV surrounded by random videos in the dining room, but if you’re feeling adventurous and your idea of Asian food goes beyond the kitschy Kowloon fare served down the road, Triple 888 is worth investigating.

Pho Triple 888
136 Newbury St, Peabody
(978) 535-8339

Pho Triple 888 on Urbanspoon

Share

Wondering What’s New in 2013?

Posted: January 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , | No Comments »

I’m sure you’ve noticed things have been a bit slow the past month here at the Dish. Fear not, now that the holidays are over you’ll be hearing from us more often. The good news is that we have been asked to write an occasional column for the Boston Globe North dining section and our first piece came out today, so you can get your Dish fix right here: Fresh North Shore restaurants to explore in 2013

Share