62 Who? Salem Restaurant Celebrates Name Change

Posted: August 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem, Sixty2 on Wharf | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

We noticed this week that Sixty2 on Wharf has undergone a bit of a re-brand and become 62 Restaurant & Winebar. Our interest piqued, we decided to find out more.

When asked, Chef Antonio Bettencourt responded that the change is not due to an issue with the current brand, but rather a “touch up” of the logo and a recognition that most of the restaurant’s customers refer to it just as “62.”

“I wanted a new look, and I think [the new name and logo] speaks to the simplistic fresh approach we take to our food and the uniqueness of our wine list. That’s also why we added winebar to the name,” he said.

Bettencourt said that 62 has one of the most unique wine lists on the North Shore and possibly in all of Massachusetts. “Some bottles we have you simply can’t find at other places,” he said. “I’m also not sure people know that we serve by the quartino, and we want to put an emphasis on that as well.”

In discussions yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, the response to the change was positive. Diane Wolf, owner of Salem’s Lobster Shanty said, “I think it is a good idea…handmade pasta and wine; is there any better combination?” And reader Geoff Millar echoed the sentiment of others: “I don’t care what they call it as long as they don’t mess with the food.”

To celebrate the new 62, Chef Bettencourt has come up with a fresh three-month promotional dinner series with an international flair. The Passport Series features a $28 prix fixe dinner nightly Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from September through November. Each month will feature culinary inspiration from a different country, and each week concentrates on a different region in that country.

September: Spain
- Barcelona
- Madrid
- Basque region
- Sevilla

October: Italy
- Venice
- Lombardy
- Milan
- Tuscany
- Piedmont

November: France
- Bordeaux
- Alsace
- Ile-de-France (Paris)
- Burgundy

For added incentive, 62 will be issuing “passports” to diners that can be stamped when they complete a meal. Guests who dine once a week for a month, eating from every region, will earn a free prix fixe dinner the next time they come in.

Guests that dine once a month for all three months will be entered to win a free vacation to Europe compliments of 62 and Lynnfield’s Colony Travel. The trip will include a three-night stay and a cooking class at Relais Riserva di Fizzano, Castellina in Chianti. The Riserva di Fizzano is an ancient medieval “bourg” owned by Rocca delle Macie, situated on a hilltop in the Chianti hills, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.

So if you haven’t dined at 62 lately, it sounds like there are plenty of reasons to return: new identity, new dinner series, and, heck, you may even win a free vacation.

62 Restaurant & Winebar
62 Wharf Street, Salem
(978) 744-0062
www.62Restaurant.com

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Bringing the North End to the North Shore

Posted: January 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italian, Marblehead, Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Today is the grand opening of Il Mercato, a unique Italian market in Marblehead. The brainchild of Donna Oliviero, who owns Caffe Italia, the market is located in what was the restaurant’s secondary dining area.

Oliviero has been planning the opening for almost a year, and she’s created a destination market by combining foods imported from Italy with take-home entrées and breads made fresh on premises.

The imported foods include olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, packaged almond and ladyfinger cookies (for making tiramisu), panettone, bags of dried oregano still on the stem, and soda in flavors like pear and apricot. There’s also a selection of imported dried pasta in large shapes not usually seen in the states.

A deli case contains prosciutto, mushrooms, anchovies, fresh mozzarella, and a large bowl of colorful olives. On top are arancini (rice balls), hot stuffed cherry peppers, and cannoli shells in two sizes ready to be filled.

Nearby is a selection of fresh-frozen pastas like fusilli, gnocchi, agnololotti, ravioli, manicotti from Original Gourmet Creation in Somerville. Oliviero’s tomato, bolognese, and pesto sauces are available to go with them, as are fresh-frozen porcini mushrooms.

In addition to selling the restaurant’s famous rolls and foccacia, the store carries Italian baguettes, multigrain ciabatta, and olive loaves. Two panini sandwiches are available each day: mozzarella/tomato/olive oil and the daily special. A selection of prepared dinners like lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, and meatballs are available to take home.

Oliviero is offering a huge variety of catering options, from antipasto trays and Italian cookies to entrees like chicken marsala and rolatini eggplant in sizes to designed to feed anywhere from 10 to 25 people. There is also a chef’s table that can be booked for between six and 14 people every night but Monday. The menu is designed with Oliviero to suit your party, starting with appetizer, entrée, salad, and two jugs of wine for $30 per person.

The market’s grand opening is today from 11:00 to 6:00, with a ribbon cutting at 4:00. Permanent hours are 11:00 to 6:00 Monday through Saturday.

Il Mercato / Caffe Italia
10 School St, Marblehead
(781) 631-5700
www.caffeitaliarestaurant.com/home_marblehead.html

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True Comfort at Caffe Paolina

Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Caffe Paolina, Italian, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

We know it’s time to lighten up a bit after all that holiday indulgence. Still, last weekend in the midst of the whirling frozen stuff, we felt in need of some January cheer.

We headed for lunch at Caffe Paolina, which is in a near-deserted strip mall in Swampscott and looks like it might be a coffee shop. Instead, we were greeted by Paolina herself and served fantastic Southern Italian-style food that warmed us considerably better than our supposedly waterproof boots.

We decided on two starters: an antipasti ($12) and the antipasto alla Paolina and the involtino di melanzana (rolled eggplant cutlet, $5). Before they arrived, we were treated to complimentary bruschetta: firm Italian bread topped with chopped onion, tomato, and olive oil.

The antipasti was an interesting combination that seemed odd but tasted wonderful: lettuce accompanied by roasted peppers, cooked broccoli and green beans, shrimp, and melted cheese. The eggplant was even better: breaded and fried, filled with ricotta and spinach, and topped with warm tomato sauce.

The three pasta entrees we tried were fantastic. The lasagna ($12) was an authentic version with thin sheets of pasta and a creamy béchamel rather than the heavier ricotta/thick noodles we often see. It was surrounded by a light tomato sauce a bit on the sweet side (in a good way).

The fettuccini alfredo ($11) and chicken, broccoli, ziti ($12) had the same luscious cream sauce with a distinct flavor (cheese? nutmeg?), the kind you’d return for. The broccoli was cooked through but firm, and the chicken was tender.

The panini we tried, with polpette ($8), was not as good. The meatballs were bland, so the dish just fell flat.

As lunch spots go, Paolina’s is not inexpensive. But the quality of the ingredients and techniques is spot on, and the pasta entrees are generous—enough to take half home if you’ve indulged in some of the Italian bread or an appetizer. And we noted that the prices on the dinner menu are quite similar: around $10 for starters, $12 to $15 for pasta, and $15 to $17 for entrees, making it a good value (it’s also BYOB). The interior décor is more café than restaurant, but with great food at reasonable prices, we don’t think anyone will mind.

646 Humphrey St, Swampscott
(781) 593-6455
www.caffepaolina.com
(Note: Web site is under construction, but the hours and menus are there)

Caffe Paolina on Urbanspoon

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Neighborhood Prices, Authentic Flavors at Lynn’s Antique Table

Posted: October 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Antique Table, Italian, Lynn | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We love Italian cooking, but sometimes it can be too much—in our desire for comfort food, we end up with an overly heavy meal. Of course, when Italian is done right, you get all of the flavor with none of the heft. And that’s exactly what we found at a recent visit to Antique Table.

We liked everything about this neighborhood gem, from the quirky décor to the attentive service and reasonable prices, but it was the freshness of the ingredients and their preparation that really impressed us.

We began by dipping strips of foccacia into oil accented with pesto and red pepper flakes while sipping a citrusy pinot grigio, then moved into an antipasto with a nice mix of cured meats, olives, and fresh mozzarella ($11).

Our entrees were all outstanding, starting with a plate of tender gnocchi in a light, fresh, flavorful tomato and basil sauce ($14). The fettuccini puttanesca also featured a delicious sauce along with an abundance of olives and firm-to-the-bite pasta ($14).

Our third entrée was a special that night, pollo rotelo, a large portion of chicken accompanied by asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and portobello mushrooms ($15). It was served in a cream sauce that looked heavy but wasn’t, and we loved that the same sauce was used for the pasta that came on the side.

For dessert, we splurged on a chocolate soufflé and a slice of turtle cheesecake. The soufflé had a wonderful texture and complex chocolate flavor. The cheesecake was truly sinful, with a buttery crust, not-too-sweet creamy filling, and a layer of gooey chocolate.

Our waitress was friendly and efficient, and she managed not to rush us despite a wait for tables (there are only about 15). With food this good at these prices, it’s no surprise the place is packed. If you’re looking for a quieter meal, you might try a weeknight, and although the Web site specifies reservations for parties of four or more, we were not only allowed to make a reservation for three on Saturday night but greeted quite graciously.

Antique Table
2 Essex Street, Lynn
(781) 477-9778
www.antiquetableonline.com

Antique Table Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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November: A Month of Mouthwatering Events

Posted: October 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Essex, Event, Italian, Lynn, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Snow storms and seventy-degree temps in the same week? Welcome to October in New England. Even though we’ve had some beautiful days lately, the weather is getting colder, and all those wonderful outdoor fall food events are coming to an end. The good news is that as we head indoors, so do some upcoming chances to eat, drink, and be merry.

102209Starting things off, Matt O’Neil at Blue Ox is offering another cooking demo and dinner on Tuesday, October 27. Just in time to wow your Thanksgiving guests, the class is on making spicy pumpkin soup. A three-course tasting menu with the soup as the first course will follow the demo. If you haven’t been to one of Matt’s classes, they are worth checking out. You may recall we had a ball learning how to make gnocchi. The dinner is $29 per person, and reservations are required. Past demonstrations have sold out quickly, so if you’re interested, call soon.

On November 5, Italian vintner Matteo Ascheri will take you on a tour of the Alps with a Piedmontese wine dinner hosted by Sixty2 on Wharf. Chef Tony Bettencourt will inspire your senses with his food pairings designed to complement each pour. If you’re like us, one look at this menu and you’ll be drooling.  Tickets are $85 per person. To reserve your seat, contact Jonathan at (978) 744-0062 or e-mail him at jbrackman@62onwharf.com.

A few events we previously mentioned but are included here for the sake of completeness: Cooking with Sweet Sloops at Harbor Sweets on November 7 and the November 12 Grand Wine Tasting hosted by Salem Wine Imports.

If you’re a food history geek, The Essex Shipbuilding Museum has just the thing for you. On November 13, go back in time to experience Tavern Fare in 18th and 19th Century New England with Bean Supper, featuring noted food historian Joseph Carlin. The dinner will include baked beans, fish cakes, cole slaw, and desserts by Laurie Lufkin, and the discussion will center on what and how early Americans in the area ate. Admission is $12 in advance or $15 at the door.

102209cIf beer is your beverage of choice, you’ll be happy to hear that it, too, receives the gourmet dinner treatment in November. Check out this terrific Burgers and Brews dinner coming up on the 17th at Finz. Each course features a beer from a different country and is accompanied by an inventive “burger and fries” pairing, ranging from a hearty Black Angus American to an inventive French burger made with beef and duck confit, brie, melted mushrooms and leeks, and truffle fois gras aioli. Tickets are $40 per person for this little trip around the world.

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Dish Scoop: Caffe Italia to Open Italian Market

Posted: June 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Italian, Marblehead, Marketplace | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Curious about some recent renovations at Caffe Italia in Marblehead, we spoke with Donna Oliviero, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband Anthony. Oliviero told us the right-hand side of the restaurant space will soon be converted into a market featuring prepared foods and Italian imports. More tables will be added to the bar side to accommodate diners.

Oliviero is understandably excited about the new venture, which will open in early August. For one thing, although she’s been in the restaurant business for 27 years, she has never tried a retail component. For another, this will be the only Italian market of this type in the area.

A large variety will be on offer in the market. Prepared dinners for one will be made fresh and ready to be heated at home ($7.95 each). A selection of à la carte prepared foods will also be available, including stuffed artichokes, stuffed peppers, and arancini.

Bakery items will include Italian bread, the restaurant’s popular dinner rolls, and biscotti. Two sandwiches will be made on the premises-baked bread every day: a daily special and the restaurant’s signature prosciutto, basil, and mozzarella.

Grocery items will include specialty jams, Italian sodas, and dried imported pasta. The restaurant’s pasta will also be available fresh and frozen, along with its tomato sauce, bolognese sauce, and pesto. Pasta and chicken dishes will be available for catering orders to feed anywhere from 10 to 40 people. And last but not least, prosciutto parma, parmesan reggiano cheese, and romano cheese will be sold by the pound.

Oliviero promised to keep us apprised about the exact opening date so we can report back with a review of the food and pictures of the new space.

Caffe Italia
10 School St., Marblehead
(781) 631-5700
http://caffeitaliarestaurant.com/

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Bella Verona: A True Trattoria

Posted: May 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Bella Verona, Italian, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

interior3If we were going to open an Italian restaurant, we’d want it to be cozy and softly lit, have great food at reasonable prices, and be staffed by handsome waiters with appealing accents. Fortunately for us (and our credit scores), this restaurant already exists, tucked away on a side street in Salem near the Hawthorne Hotel.

We’ve been fans of Bella Verona for quite a while, and our meal there Sunday night bolstered our view that the food and the atmosphere at this tiny trattoria are as genuine as it gets.

After reciting the night’s specials to us and leaving a hand-written blackboard as a reminder, our waiter left to secure the carafe of house chianti we ordered ($25). Several of the selections sounded interesting, and we ended up with two starters and two entrees from the board.

The baked eggplant and baked artichokes (both $10) were a huge hit—moist, tender, and flavorful. We did wish for a slightly larger serving of the eggplant for the price, though. The veal saltimbocca special was to-die-for delicious—tender cutlets in a salty, savory sauce ($20). The chicken almalfi ($18) was also full of flavor, this time lemon, accompanied by mushrooms and olives.

The pasta dishes we ordered from the main menu were expertly prepared and very reasonable: spaghetti bolognese ($12) had a generous portion of meat sauce, and the tagliatelle alla puttanesca ($13) was a spicy mix of capers, olives, and anchovies.

The atmosphere definitely put us in a North End mood because we felt the need for some Italian pastries before we left. We sampled the tiramisu ($5.50), crème caramel ($4.50), and cannoli ($5.50). The cannoli shells were crisp, but the ricotta cream lacked richness, so the tiramisu was the clear winner. Cake drenched in espresso and topped with sumptuous cream—we couldn’t have designed a better ending.

exterior

Bella Verona
107 Essex St, Salem
(978) 825-9911
www.bellaverona.com

Bella Verona on Urbanspoon

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Italian Warmth to Thaw Those Mid-Winter Blues

Posted: February 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Caffe Italia, Italian, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Not sure how it happened, but two different times in the past few weeks we found ourselves having a light supper at the bar at Caffe Italia on School Street in Marblehead.

Both the restaurant and bar are very inviting on a frigid winter’s eve; warm lighting, delicious smells, and pleasant staff make it a welcome respite. We weren’t looking for a big meal and, like everyone these days, are keeping a tight rein on our budget, so decided sampling few appetizers might be the way to go.

The bar was hopping both weekend nights we went, mostly with a 40-something crowd, eating as well as drinking. The bar is U-shaped which gives it a convivial atmosphere, and the single large screen tv is at the back of the room, so it doesn’t overwhelm.

Every entrée that went by looked and smelled terrific, making us question the decision to order just apps, but we stuck to the original plan. Both the Guazzeto di Cozza, PEI mussels sautéed with fresh tomato seafood broth, ($10) and the Cappesante, pan-seared jumbo scallops served with spinach and drizzled with balsamic reduction topped with roasted pepper, ($11) were excellent. In fact, we enjoyed the scallops so much we ordered them the second time as well. The Broccoli Stufate, sautéed broccoli rabe, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and a touch of hot pepper, ($7) was tasty, and the only clunker was a potato leek soup on special one night. Lumpy and oily with little flavor, it was a big disappointment.

Where drinks are concerned, the cocktails are reasonably priced, and the wines run from $6 to $7.50 per glass. The wine list is respectable, with the expected concentration of Italian selections. Although the bartenders are eager and attentive, they are also young and inexperienced. When a request for a Manhattan or a Sidecar is greeted with a sure smile but a quizzical look and an inquiry about the ingredients, you know you’re in trouble. Both attempts were palatable, but we suggest these kids bone up on their cocktail knowledge.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Caffe Italia offers live music some weekend nights. Their online entertainment calendar doesn’t seem to be kept up, so you’ll have to call to find out the schedule. On one of our visits, The Transistors, a fun retro rock band, had the place jumping. People of all ages got up and danced, and many of the patrons at the bar found themselves singing along.

So while we have yet to partake of a full meal there, we can recommend Caffe Italia for its warm, inviting atmosphere and the bar as a fun place to have a tasty and inexpensive dinner.

Caffe Italia
10 School St., Marblehead
(781) 631-5700
http://caffeitaliarestaurant.com/

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