This year Mario, Paula and I decided that in lieu of exchanging gifts we would instead go out for a really nice dinner and celebrate Christmas together eating and drinking the night away. I mean do I really need Mario to get me another bottle of cologne or does Paula need us to get her another purple shirt that may or may not need to be returned? The gift of our time and enjoying a new dining experience was so much better and will now become our new tradition.
We wanted to go somewhere none of us have ever been so we settled on Cinquecento in Boston’s SoWa district in the South End. This area is known for its urban lofts, art galleries and trendy restaurants. Paula is a huge fan of Italian food so this place was a no brainer for her. What drew me to select this place was the name. When my friend Katie and I backpacked through Italy every person we met was either coming from or going to Cinque Terre, an area of 5 towns on the Italian Riviera. It became a running joke between us that anyone who now tells us that they went to or are going to Italy we ask if they are going to Cinque Terre.
I really loved the decor and style of this place. An enormous archway greets you and leads you down into the entrance way of the restaurant which is a brightly lit wall of glass adorned in front by several happily lit trees creating a perfect mise-en-scène. Upon entering the restaurant a grand iron staircase studded with pockets of light bends upward towards the dining floor. The dining room is adorned with oversized vintage posters and murals punctuated by towers of Aperol and Campari adding a bit of bright red color to the otherwise monochromatic space.
For dinner we started with a few appetizers of bruschetta of shaved beef heart pastrami, giardiniera and salsa verde as well as charred beef carpaccio, hazelnuts, parmigiano crema and grilled bread and to top it off some fried baby artichokes, lemon and salsa verde. All three of these dishes were light but packed an incredible amount of flavor.
For my entrée I had gnocchi with wild boar, golden raisins, pignoli nuts and pecorino cheese. I love gnocchi! It is one of my favorite pasta dishes but this dish was a whole other level, the meat so tender, the raisins little bursts of sweet, the pignoli nuts perfectly toasted. I’d go back JUST to eat this dish again. Mario ordered rigatoni with fennel sausage, cognac cream, basil, and pecorino cheese and Paula got the sole cooked in parchment with potatoes, leeks and porcini. Needless to say none of us had any trouble wiping the plates clean.
Just when you thought there wasn’t any room left we couldn’t help ourselves and we ordered dessert. I got a lemon and ricotta torta topped with cream and a grape coulis, Mario got a warm molten chocolate cake and Paula ended with some gelato. We washed it all down with some limoncello and called it a night!