Posted: January 28th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem | Tags: Chef Antonio Bettencourt, Fan Favorites Dinner, Happy Anniversary | 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
Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, G Bar and Kitchen, Mediterranean, Seafood, Swampscott | Tags: Chef Brackman, Dayboat Seafood | 2 Comments »
Imagine a friend asks you to his house for dinner, and that friend happens to be a chef who whips up some amazing dishes with perfect flavor balance. With its intimate dining room, open kitchen, and terrific food, that was pretty close to our experience at G Bar and Kitchen in Swampscott last week.
We were warmly greeted when we walked in and seated at a cushy banquet. The room holds only about 15 tables, with bar seats for about 10 more, and the décor was clearly chosen for sound baffling and comfort as much as style. We ordered Stella Artois ($5.50) and a glass of pinot gris ($10) and happily snacked on fresh focaccia and delicious green olive spread.
For starters, we shared an order of spring rolls ($8) and a caesar salad (which the waitress split for us without being asked). The rolls were crispy without a hint of grease, and the flavor was great: a combination of cool mint, spicy ginger and chili, and baby bok choy. The salad was a huge hit, crisp romaine and arugula with lots of focaccia croutons and a dressing that managed to be light, creamy, and pungent all at once ($7).
We went for one of the entrée specials that night ($28). The dayboat seafood was swordfish, and it did taste amazingly fresh. It had a slight crust on the outside and a tender inside and was seasoned perfectly. It was accompanied by tender asparagus and two eggplant rollatini filled with goat cheese that would make a great entrée themselves.
The beef short ribs were equally good in their uber-comfort-food way, especially accompanied by savory parmesan-romano risotto ($25).
We were a bit too full for dessert, but we read they are made onsite, so that gives us a perfect excuse to return to try more of Chef Brackman’s thoughtful cuisine and warm hospitality.
G Bar and Kitchen
256 Humphrey St, Swampscott
Posted: December 21st, 2010 | Author: JR | Filed under: Adriatic Restaurant & Bar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem | No Comments »
A friendly atmosphere, cozy setting, and an interesting menu are all indicators of a good dining-out experience. Of course, you never know until the food comes, but at Adriatic last weekend, those signs were spot on.
For those familiar with Salem dining, Adriatic went into the downtown space formerly occupied by Edgewater Café. The new owners gutted it completely, turning it into a very welcoming fine-dining establishment. There’s a medium-sized triangular bar on the right-hand side, tables on the left, and several bar tables in the main windows, which is where we sat. There’s a back dining room as well, equally cozy, and the night we were there, it was occupied by a private party.
One thing we particularly liked about Adriatic was the menu; it’s not huge but somehow has just the right amount of options, including pasta, risotto, meat, and seafood. We selected a caesar salad and the special soup to begin. The salad was fresh and tasty ($8.50), but the four-onion soup upstaged it mightily ($7.50). The onions were deeply caramelized, so the broth was on the sweet side, and the large grilled-bread crouton was the perfect foil.
For entrées, we tried the cod in parchment ($19) and another special, the pumpkin ravioli ($24). Both were perfectly cooked and had great flavor. The ravioli were large squares of (we’re assuming) hand-made pasta with a barely-sweet filling and a light sauce. The cod was a generous portion of fish accompanied by tender potato slices, tomatoes, and delicious black olives.
We decided to splurge on tiramisu for dessert ($6.50), accompanied by an espresso ($2.50) and a cappuccino ($3.50). The drinks were hot and authentic, and the tiramisu was rich but not too heavy.
The service, by one of the bartenders, was a definite highlight—very polite, friendly, and attentive. Our meal was perfectly paced and we never felt rushed, even though all of the tables and most of the bar seats were full. We’re looking forward to returning to sample more of the menu, which leans toward Italy but with a definite influence of other Southern European countries.
155 Washington St, Salem
Posted: September 2nd, 2010 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Brutole, Danvers, Mediterranean | Tags: Grilled Salmon, Motel 6, Rack of Lamb, Route 1, Sea Bass, Starwberry Rhubarb Crumble | 3 Comments »
If we hadn’t heard from a couple of sources that the food at Brutole was outstanding, we would probably have turned around in the parking lot. This restaurant has got to win the award for strangest location ever: it’s a high-end Mediterranean restaurant located on Route 1 next to a Motel 6.
Once inside, it’s easy to forget where you are. The luxurious décor and lighting put you in the mood to dine, and the outstanding service makes you feel you’re in good hands. By the time the warm artisan bread arrives with olive oil (mixed tableside with cheese and pepper flakes), you’re a convert.
We started with the caesar salad ($10), which was outstandingly fresh and coated with the perfect amount of dressing. The duck breast with mushroom risotto and a blackberry reduction ($14) was also a winner, three large slices cooked to medium-rare and ready for that delicious sauce.
The hefty portions don’t stop with the appetizers. The prices at Brutole are similar to those you’d find in Boston, but the portions are about double. For example, the rack of lamb was cooked to our requested medium, absolutely delicious, and accompanied by a very tasty lentil/vegetable mix. At $41, it’s the most expensive entrée on the menu, but definitely worth the splurge in terms of flavor, and with six good-sized chops on the plate, we were able to make another meal of the leftovers.
We also enjoyed the grilled salmon ($28), which came with silky horseradish mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. The sea bass with white bean compote and spinach ($34) was great, especially combined with the sautéed mushroom side dish ($9).
Desserts are often a disappointment, even at fine dining establishments, so we’re pleased to be able to recommend saving some room when you dine here. The crème brulee was creamy and satisfying ($9), but it was outshone by the strawberry rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream ($10). It’s served in a loaf pan, wonderfully crisp and decadent, and the perfect size for sharing.
It was a great ending to the meal, but we received one final service before we left—a bag with nicely packaged leftovers was handed to us in exchange for a number, rather than dumped on our table. Brutole may not be located in a charming area, but that didn’t stop it from winning us over.
65 Newbury St, Danvers (first driveway after Rt 114 east exit)
Posted: August 26th, 2010 | Author: KN | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem, Sixty2 on Wharf | Tags: Passport Series, Prix Fixe Menu | 2 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.
- Basque region
- Ile-de-France (Paris)
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
Posted: December 22nd, 2009 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Lyceum, Mediterranean, Salem, Seafood | Tags: Salem Restaurants, The Lyceum | No Comments »
A newly renovated Lyceum opened to much fanfare in November, and we were eager to investigate. The original restaurant, opened in 1989, featured mainly American fare and was a long-time favorite of ours for burgers at the bar and Sunday brunch.
There were a few missteps during our dinner, but overall, we’d call the changeover a success. The new interior is particularly well thought-out—rich woods and neutral tones make for a cozy, elegant feeling while the high ceilings and brick walls evoke Old Salem at its historic best. A fire crackling on one side of the dining room adds to the ambiance.
We chose the crab cake appetizer to start our meal. The cakes had a crispy exterior and very little filler, and the accompanying corn salad was tasty. Still, at $13 for two small cakes, the value is questionable. There’s an emphasis on seafood for appetizers, including raw bar items, shrimp cocktail, steamed cockles, and tuna tartare.
Under new chef de cuisine Dan Friley, the menu is Mediterranean influenced, and there are several interesting-sounding pasta dishes available in small or full portions, including pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter and gnocchi with wild mushroom sauce. We tried the diver scallop entrée, also available in two sizes ($14 for half portion, $26 for full). There were four large scallops with a flavorful sear outside and tender middle along with a tasty mushroom risotto.
The duck l’orange entrée ($25) was good but not great, with lentils that were less done than we’re used to. The filet with potatoes au gratin ($31) was served medium rather than the requested medium rare, and the potatoes were a bit dry.
The most successful dish, and it’s a must-try, was the pork osso buco with gnocchi and sautéed apples ($23). The meat had a delicious savory sauce and fall-off-the-bones texture. The gnocchi were large and unusually creamy.
We sampled the chocolate mint bread pudding for dessert. It was comforting, with the mint adding a nice side-note to the chocolate and custard-soaked bread.
We were very pleased with the service, which was friendly and highly professional. We had an early reservation and appreciated the fact that we were never rushed. We anticipate that the kitchen will smooth out its rough spots, and we’re interested in checking out several items on the revamped brunch menu.
43 Church Street, Salem
Posted: April 15th, 2009 | Author: JR | Filed under: Bistro, Mediterranean, Salem, Sixty2 on Wharf | Tags: 62 on Wharf, Cocktails, Dinner, Pasta, Restaurant, Salem Restaurants, Seafood | No Comments »
If you’re ready to shake off those winter doldrums and step out, we’ve got the perfect destination for you. We had a superb meal last night at Sixty2 on Wharf, the latest addition to Salem’s Pickering Wharf.
We found the décor, the food, and the service spot on at this chef-owned restaurant featuring Boston-quality Mediterranean cuisine. We were warmly welcomed by the host and seated in the cozy dining room featuring an unusual cork floor, stylish black tables, and inviting red walls.
The menu starts off right with a large selection of antipasti, all of which are $5. (We’re already plotting a return for a night at the bar sipping cocktails and sampling the small plates.) We discussed our options over a glass of white cote de rhone and a dirty dirty martini. The wine ($10) was a generous pour served in a carafe, and the martini featured Grey Goose and gorgonzola-stuffed olives.
Our appetizers set the tone for the meal—visual appeal, layers of flavor, and perfect texture. Fresh milk mozzarella was served in coin-sized medallions with crisp baguette slices and pepper jelly on a beautiful piece of gray slate. Polpettes were small balls of porky goodness, easily enough for two to share.
For entrees, we went with the night’s pasta special, gnocchi with oxtail, and the sea scallops with romesco sauce and farro. Our waitress was a gem who seemed genuinely happy to be serving us and had an extensive knowledge of the menu and wine selections. We explained that we wanted a light red to go with the scallops and were happy with the pinot noir she recommended.
The scallops ($25) were large and succulent with a wonderful crunchy sear on the outside; they combined well with the earthy farro. The hand-made gnocchi were also a highlight—moist and feathery light. The only thing off key was the oxtail, which was quite chewy.
The mozzarella and gnocchi were part of the $22 Neighborhood Nights three-course prix fixe menu, a fantastic value currently available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. To end the meal, we indulged in the toffee pudding and the brown butter tart. Both were worth the calories, but the unusual flavors in the pudding and wonderful softly whipped cream really sang.
It’s easy to understand why the Boston Globe named Sixty2 best new restaurant on the North Shore, and we were pleased to see a good-sized crowd on a Tuesday night, since pricier restaurants sometimes struggle to fill seats in times like this. But it’s clear the locals have caught onto the symphony of flavors chef Tony Bettencourt and his crew are serving up.
Sixty2 on Wharf
62 Wharf Street, Salem