A Taste of Tuscany in Beverly Farms

Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Italian | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

A fabulous meal, fellow food-lovers, and a knowledgeable teacher—that’s what awaited us earlier this week at Shelly Green’s house in Beverly Farms. Oh, and did I mention a roof-top wood-fired oven?

We were invited to attend a pizza-making class at Italy Eats, and it was an incredible experience. There was a lavish spread of cheeses, crackers, salami, olives, fig jam, prosciutto, and more. We nibbled and took pictures while Shelly gave us a tour of her kitchen, which is laid out for teaching and includes both an incredible ocean view and the aforementioned pizza oven. (Full disclosure: our class was complimentary as part of Shelly’s effort to reach out to local bloggers.)

Shelly had already made and proofed the pizza dough. As we sampled the antipasto, Shelly’s husband, Ralph, a native Italian, cooked some fresh bread sticks in the oven to be filled with broccoli rabe and sautéed peppers. Between the wine, the spedini, and the food-related conversations, we were hard pressed to turn our attention to the pizza making.

Still, we managed to turn out some fantastic creations using the array of ingredients provided, including fresh mozzarella, smoked gouda, farmer’s cheese, parmesan, spicy sausage, fontina, leeks, broccoli rabe, and chili flakes. Fellow blogger Brian Knowles came up with my favorite combination: a white pizza with farmer’s cheese, broccoli rabe, and sausage. Definitely one to try at home, it was perfect with Shelly’s lightly-dressed salad of arugula, watercress, and gala apples.

Shelly can accommodate up to eight people for classes, and if you come as a group, she will customize the menu based on food preferences and what the participants want to learn. The class includes a sit-down dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded in Italian after dinner by one of Ralph and Shelly’s guitar-playing friends, as we were. Shelly’s knowledge of Italian food is formidable, and she both encourages you to ask questions and offers recipes.

Shelly also leads small-group trips to Tuscany. There are still a few spaces left on her May trip based in an 11th century castle, which includes five days of cooking, photography, or both, and a “Big Night” medieval banquet.

We’d like to thank Shelly and Ralph for a magical evening—we’re still dreaming of that crispy, chewy, smoky pizza and scheming to somehow build our own wood-fired oven so we can replicate it.

Italy Eats
104 West Street Beverly Farms
978.927.5555
http://italyeats.com/

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Many Cooks in the Kitchen: Amesbury’s Kitchen Local

Posted: March 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Amesbury | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Owner Lisa Sutton explains the inspiration behind Kitchen Local.

We recently had the pleasure of touring an exciting new business in Amesbury: a shared-use commercial kitchen called Kitchen Local. Owner Lisa Sutton proudly gave tours of her just-completed space to attendees of the quarterly meeting of The Enterprise Center’s Local Foods Initiative. Sutton said that after seeing the burgeoning local food industry and realizing the shortage of commercial kitchen workspace, she decided to open her own.

The 1,200-foot work space is located in 14 Cedar Street Studios, a historic building a few blocks from downtown. Originally home to a carriage and automotive manufacturer, the building now hosts creative entrepreneurs such as artists, architects, designers, builders, and musicians.

Kitchen Local is available to chefs, small-scale food producers, farmers, and nutrition instructors for food production, catering, baking, cooking classes, menu planning, training, recipe testing, photography, and product development. You can rent the entire space for $40 per hour, which includes both the catering kitchen with a six-burner range as well as a baking kitchen with a 30-quart mixer, double electric convection oven, and proofing oven. You can rent one side or the other for $20 per hour.

The web site has a complete list of included equipment, plus information about becoming a client (including information on required food safety certification).

This is the first certified shared-use kitchen on the North Shore, and the meeting attendees were visibly excited about the possibilities. They also appreciated the protein cookies from Alex’s Whey and cinnamon-sugar popovers from 19 Steps Bake Shop, two of the businesses using the shared space.

The Enterprise Center is looking to support the local food community, specifically with regard to manufacturing, shared commercial kitchen space, distribution, and marketing. We’ll continue to keep you updated on the group’s progress.

Kitchen Local
14 Cedar Street Studio 106, Amesbury
(978) 204-3197
www.kitchenlocal.com

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Christopher’s Table Wins Best Chef Award from Beverly Bootstraps

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

Lobster tarts from Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, colorful bites from Tastebuds Gourmet Foods and an array of treats from The Topsfield Bakeshop.

It was a great night for a great cause—we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Monday night’s Best Chef 2013 event to benefit Beverly Bootstraps.

We started by perusing the gorgeous silent auction items, then made our way around to each of the food offerings from various North Shore purveyors, caterers, and restaurants. One of favorite tables, Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, ended up winning the people’s choice award. We loved their tiny lobster pastries and delicious toffee-chocolate mousse cups.

The variety on offer was terrific, including smoked mahi ceviche shooters from Red Lulu, healthy grain dishes from Life Alive, and seared tuna on crispy tortillas from Not Your Average Joe’s. There was plenty of food, too, allowing us to go back for seconds and thirds of our favorites.

The teams hard at work. Clockwise from top left: Alchemy Cafe and Bistro, Fibber McGee’s, Christopher’s Table and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant & Jazz Lounge.

As the four chefs competing for Best Chef title prepared their entrées, the live auction got going, with much fanfare. The entire event was extremely well thought out and ran smoothly from start to finish. The Best Chef contestants were Christopher’s Table (Ipswich), Fibber McGees (Beverly), Alchemy Cafe and Bistro (Gloucester) and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant (Beverly).

Top: The judges taste and compare notes. Bottom: The winning dish from Christopher’s Table.

The contestants used ingredients from the Beverly Bootstraps pantry as 75% of their ingredients, with 25% coming from their own kitchens. They were judged on taste, appearance, and the originality of the use of pantry items by Eliana Hussain of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Sam Hunt of Wild Horse Café, and Paul Guanci of Super Sub Shop of Beverly.

The chef’s creations were wildly imaginative, including goldfish-encrusted spam cooked sous vide from Alchemy and a chicken pot pie with crust made from pumpkin bread mix and Bisquick. But the beautifully plated pho from Christopher’s Table was the judge’s winner. It featured ramen noodles in a broth flavored with peanuts, cilantro, and lime, plus a spring roll accompanied by a hoisin sauce made with grape jelly.

A good time was had by all. (L) Lindsey Sakonchick, Development/Marketing Coordinator for Beverly Bootstraps had everything under control. (Center) Matt Blanchard, new owner/manager of the Wild Horse Café and Mark McDonough, owner of Serenitee Restaurant Group are old friends. (R) Blanchard’s Wild Horse partner and 2012 Best Chef winner, chef Sam Hunt chats with Christopher DeStephano, this year’s winner, as he preps his meal.

It was such a pleasure to see the North Shore turn out for this sold-out, fun-filled event!

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Four North Shore Chefs Will Battle It Out at Beverly Bootstraps Event

Posted: February 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , | No Comments »

If you’re a fan of Food Network-style cooking competitions, consider checking out a live version on March 4 at the Danversport Yacht Club. Four chefs will compete for the Best Chef title—plus there will be sampling stations from more than 20 local restaurants, a cash bar, and silent and live auctions. Proceeds will benefit Beverly Bootstraps an organization devoted to providing critical resources to Beverly families and individuals so they can achieve self-sufficiency. The evening will benefit the organization’s food assistance, client support, adult education, and youth and family programs.

The event, which beings at 6:00 pm, features Karen Nascembeni, director of communications for North Shore Music Theatre, as the host. Judges include Paul Guanci, owner of Super Sub and City Council President; Sam Hunt, 2012 Best Chef winner and Wild Horse Café’s new chef; and Eliana Hussain, personal chef and instructor at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.

The competitors this year are Christopher DeStefano of Christopher’s Table, Stephen Crato of Fibber McGee’s, Scott Jenson of Alchemy Café and Bistro, and Chianti’s of Beverly. All four will duke it out in the kitchen using mainly food pantry ingredients (only 25% of the dish’s ingredients can come from the chefs’ kitchens).

Tickets are $50 and can be reserved at BeverlyBootstraps.org or by calling (978) 927-1561. Sponsorships are also available.

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Digging Out From Nemo: What’s Open Today

Posted: February 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Amesbury, Beverly, Event, Grand Trunk Imports, Hungry Betty's, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, Rolly's Tavern on the Square, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We hope everyone is safe and warm and starting to dig out from this crazy mess the blizzard has dumped across the North Shore. Some folks are without power, and as of this writing the driving ban is still in effect in Massachusetts, so a hot meal or a cold cocktail may be hard to come by unless you can walk, snowshoe or ski to a local establishment. Most markets and restaurants are closed today, we’d like to help out by listing which places are currently open or will be serving dinner tonight.

We’ll keep this as a running list, so please feel free to contact (email@northshoredish.com, @northshoredish on twitter) us with updates!

Updated Saturday February 9, 2013 at 7:44PM

Amesbury

• Barking Dog Bar & Grill is open
• Phat Cats Bistro will be open for dinner

Beverly

• Chianti will be open, live entertainment still pending
• E.J. Cabots is open
• CitySide Diner is open their regular hours.
• Cielito Lindo will be open for dinner

Essex

• The Farm Bar and Grill is open tonight

Gloucester

• Cape Ann Brewing Pub will be open at 6:30pm…bar only. Kitchen is closed
• Seaport Grille is open

Ipswich

• Christopher’s Table is open and has live jazz

Lynn

• Tatiana’s is open
• The Blue Ox opens at 5PM
• Rolly’s Tavern plans to open at 4pm

Marblehead

• Hayley’s Wine and Market Café is open
• The Landing is open
• 5 Corners Kitchen will be open at 5pm for dinner
• Maddies is open.
• 3 Cod Tavern will be open for lunch and dinner
• Hungry Betty’s will be open at 4PM

Newburyport

• Mission Oak Grill is open for dinner
• Brine will be serving dinner after 3PM
• Ceia Kitchen + Bar will be open at 3PM
• Enzo will be open for dinner at 5PM
• Andiamo will have the bar open at 5 and dining at 6PM
• The Grog opens at 5PM and Mardi Gras is ON
• Grand Trunk Market potentially opening at 1PM today

Peabody

• Maki Sushi is open
• Bill & Bobs Roast Beef will be open at 6PM

Salem

• Salem Beer Works is open
• Sushi Garden is open and DELIVERING
• The Grapevine opens at 6PM
• 43 Church is open and WILL have live music
• Victoria Staion and the Boathouse are open, with fires roaring
• Pamplemousse is open
• 43 Church will be open at 5Pm
• Bill & Bobs Roast Beef will be open at 6PM
• The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel is open, with roaring fire.
• O’Neill’s will be open at 4 and their Black Heat Ball will go on as planned.
• Witches Brew café open at noon
• Gulu Gulu will open at 4PM
• In a Pig’s Eye will not be open for lunch, but will open later for dinner.
• Village Tavern open their regular hours, 11 – 1AM
• Howling Wolf will be open at 5PM

Swampscott

• Red Rock Bistro opens today at 4PM

6:56 PM Additional: Swampscott Patch just reported that the following take out places are open and delivering

China Green
781-203 Burrill St Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 592-5357

Captain Pizza
3 Railroad Ave Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 593-1568

Cindy’s Pizza
653 Humphrey St Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 599-0358

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February: The Sweetest Month?

Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Christopher's Table, Event, Finz, Gloucester, Harbor Sweets, Ipswich, News, Red Lulu, Rockport, Salem, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We hope you spent January getting all the holiday excess behind you because February promises to be a great month for indulgence, with or without a sweetheart. There’s one contest to win chocolate, two chocolate tours, and several Valentine’s Day dinner menus.

Wake up your creative side and enter Harbor Sweets’ Valentine’s Day Poem contest—the winner receives the gift-basket (pictured above) of chocolate worth $100 sent directly to their sweetheart. Just write a poem (1,000 words or less) about chocolate and submit it by February 11 to Poems@Harborsweets.com. Include your first and last name, phone number, and email. The winner will be notified by February 13 to allow enough time to ship the basket.

Chocolate lovers will want to be in Salem on February 8 for the 11th Annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting. Tickets are on sale now ($25 at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, this event sells out quickly, so don’t wait). From 6:30 to 8:30 at the Colonial Hall, there will be samplings galore from restaurants, stores, and sweet shops. For a taste of what to expect, check out our coverage of the 2011 event. The tasting is part of Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, which runs from the 8th to the 14th and includes a myriad of offers and tastings.

On February 9, Gloucester hosts its first Downtown Chocolate Tour, marked by retailers with large red hearts on their doors. You can pick up a tour map at Toodeloos, Harbor Goods, or Premier Imprints after February 1. Then simply follow the map to pick up goodies at all the participating stores and bring your completed map to Island Art & Hobby to be entered in a raffle for a Cape Ann gift certificate.

Christopher’s Table in Ipswich is celebrating February 14 with a four-course romance-inspired dinner that includes a wine tasting. They’re following that up with a Crazy Sexy Chocolate party on February 23. This “evening of chocolate decadence with a cash bar” sounds intriguing.

The Valentine’s menu at Finz in Salem has unusual items such as strawberry burratta salad, cocoa-dusted scallops, and duck breast with a ginger/brandied pears/cherry/soy reduction.

Rockport’s Emerson Inn by the Sea always goes all out for Valentine’s Day. This year, the menu features fire-roasted shrimp and corn chowder, beef wellington, duck confit with blackberry reduction, and expresso crème brulée or spiced apple anadama bread pudding.

Red Lulu in Salem promises secret suprises on the 14th, along with a menu that includes spiced lobster bisque grilled endive and frisee salad with spiced candied walnuts and manchego cheese, statler chicken breast with don julio reposado
tequila sauce, and blackened ribeye with creamy polenta and tart cherry sauce

Also in Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel will be serving up Wellfleet oysters, seared tuna with spicy mediterranean-style relish, and Valrhona chocolate torte for two, among other things in a lavish Valentine’s spread.

Last, but certainly not least, Andover’s Wine ConneXtion and China Blossom are collaborating to find help you create a simple, romantic evening with their Take Out to Stay In deal. Place any takeout order from China Blossom before the 14th, and they will contact the Wine ConneXtion to put aside a perfectly paired wine for the order and have it ready for pick up. Or you can peruse the Wine ConneXtion aisles February 10 through February 14 for highlighted wines along with suggestions of the best China Blossom dish for pairing.

So go out and celebrate—we’ll eat healthy in March!

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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

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North Shore Nostalgia: Remembering the General Glover House

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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.

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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

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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

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