Nine Elm Makes Danvers a Dining Destination

Posted: September 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Danvers, Nine Elm American Bistro | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

The dining scene in Danvers Square has seen quite a revitalization over the past year, and the leader of the pack is Nine Elm American Bistro, which has garnered a loyal following since Matt and Jean Sanidas opened the doors last September.

We decided to see what all the buzz was about and headed there for dinner recently. The cozy dining room was inviting, with warm lighting, wooden tables, chalkboard specials, and the smell of garlic wafting from the kitchen. An adorable bar lines one wall, though only beer and wine are served. (Danvers only accommodates nine full liquor licenses, so new restaurants are often granted a partial one.)

Our server was friendly, attentive, and quite happy to let us linger over the menu. After ordering a bottle of wine, we settled on the Prince Edward Island mussels, sautéed with parsley, lemon, garlic, and white wine ($8) and the summer vegetable tart baked with goat cheese and ricotta ($8) to start.

The tart was unexpected; instead of the sautéed veggies we imagined, it was a pastry shell with a cheesy, almost quiche-like filling. While tasty, it lacked a certain oomph. The mussels, however, were a memorable standout— lush and delicious. The shellfish was fresh and the jus perfect; it deserved to have every drop sopped up with the wonderful grilled bread that accompanied the dish.

For entrees, we chose the pan seared sea scallops with spinach-basil risotto and sweet corn butter sauce ($24) and grilled filet mignon with yukon gold mashed potatoes, blue cheese butter, and a red wine reduction ($26).

Once again, the seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly. The scallops were expertly seared, and the risotto had a wonderful light pesto flavor that tasted of summer. The steak was marvelous with a slightly smoky grilled exterior and melt-in-your mouth interior. Matt Sanidas’ secret to making red wine reduction is mystery, but with a taste like that, I bet the recipe is kept under lock and key.

We didn’t really need dessert, but we were having such a lovely leisurely meal that we decided to prolong it by ordering the flourless chocolate torte with vanilla bean ice cream ($6) The torte was rich and dense and quite good, though we regretted not ordering the profiteroles when we saw a delectable trio of them served to an adjacent table. Oh well, next time.

And where Nine Elm is concerned, there definitely will be a next time. Some may find the idea of an upscale bistro in Danvers Square a bit surprising, but with meals like these, it’s certainly worth investigating.

Nine Elm American Bistro
9 Elm Street, Danvers
(978) 774-9436
9elm.com

Nine Elm American Bistro on Urbanspoon

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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

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Holding Hands at Midnight

Posted: February 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Gloucester, Marblehead, Newburyport, Salem | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Holding hands at midnight,
’Neath the starry skies
Nice work if you can get it
And you can get it if you try
—Cole Porter

Planning to take your sweetie out next weekend? Here’s a roundup of some romantic spots for a Valentine’s Day dinner, along with a few places offering special menus.

Tryst in Beverly is offering a prix fixe menu on Friday and Saturday nights. The four-course meal is $75 per person. The regular menu will not be available.
www.trystbeverly.com

Ten Center St in Newburyport is serving a four-course dinner derived from its regular dining menu for $75 per couple or $40 per person.
www.tencenterstreet.com

The always-romantic Grapevine in Salem is offering a three-course prix fixe menu during the month of February and March for $21 per person (not including beverages, tax or gratuity).
www.grapevinesalem.com

For a more casual meal, Capts in Salem is offering three courses for $30 or five courses for $40.
www.capts.com/ValentineDay.aspx

Bella Verona doesn’t have a Web site, but this tiny spot across from the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is cozy and candle-lit. The food is great and very reasonably priced.
Update: Bella Verona does have a Web site, as Cathleen pointed out. It’s http://www.bellaverona.com/

We haven’t tried Duckworth’s Bistro in East Gloucester, but it was recommended to us by a Chowhound who goes there regularly, and the menu looks terrific.
www.duckworthsbistrot.com

It’s been a while since we dined at Pellino’s in Marblehead, but it has a great atmosphere, and we continue to hear good things about the food.
www.pellinos.com

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