>>  Sunday, September 11, 2011

There are at least two reasons to visit the Scampo if you're in Boston.

First, it's housed in the storied Liberty Hotel, a former prison that's rich with all sorts of history. The former Charles Street Jail housed prisoners from 1851 to 1990. The US district court ruled in 1973 that the jail violated the constitutional rights of the prisoners because of terrible overcrowding.

Massachusetts General Hospital now owns the property and opened a luxury hotel in the space in 2007. They have maintained some of the original architecture, so it's quite fascinating to see the former jail decked out in luxury finishes.

Of course, architecture and history alone would not be enough reason to visit a restaurant. The second reason to visit Scampo is that it's another restaurant by Lydia Shire, probably one of the most well known chefs in Boston. A driven woman who worked her way to the top during a time when male chefs dominated the industry, Lydia Shire continues to wow us with her current empire, which includes the venerated classic Locke-Ober, the trendy Towne Stove & Spirits (opened this past year), and Scampo - the ever so popular restaurant inside the Liberty Hotel.

It's hard not to be impressed by your surroundings right when you enter the Liberty Hotel. The high ceilings of the former jail fill you with a sense of wonder and fascination at the same time. Scampo is in the lower level of the Liberty Hotel, which also houses the new American restaurant Clink.

The space at Scampo is trendy, lively, yet cozy and warm at the same time. A huge open kitchen sits at the center of the restaurant. You can watch chefs preparing pizzas in the brick oven or baking their homemade naan.

The restaurant is decidedly Italian, although it draw influences from both the Mediterranean region as well as the Middle East.

For example, we enjoyed an interesting edamame (? or was it pea?) puree with Italian breadsticks. Naan-like bread is also cooked in tandoori ovens.
We started with this lovely lobster appetizer that came with fresh avocados, thinly sliced radishes, and a fried plantain chip on top.

Razor claims with house made gnocchi, potato chips, and basil were sweet, fresh, and perfectly seasoned.

Roasted Suckling Pig
A special only available on Fridays, the generous portion of the "roasted suckling pork" was juicy and had perfect crispy skin (not unlike Peking duck!). It was served with fresh handmade pasta (Bryan's favorite!) and asparagus.

For dessert we tried the "house made cookie plate - chef's whim" and the tiramisu. The cookies are great because you can easily take them home if you can't finish them. 
We definitely enjoyed our meal at Scampo. In fact, we could definitely see the resemblance between Scampo and Lydia Shire's other restaurant that we've tried, Towne Stove & Spirits. Everything we tried was solidly executed and had great flavors. Ingredients were top notch, and overall the meal was quite enjoyable.

The menu is quite interesting, and there are still so many things we haven't tried. For example, they have a mozzarella bar full of their house made mozzarellas. You can even try a mozzarella tasting where you sample burrata, buffalo, house made, and quark mozzarella. I'm so curious to try that. There are also many types of pizzas, including Lydia Shire's famous lobster pizza (named best pizza in Massachusetts by the Food Network).

All in all, Scampo has excellent food and a great atmosphere. I'm looking forward to my next visit, hopefully soon!

215 Charles St
Boston, MA 02114
Scampo on Urbanspoon

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