I had read a very positive Boston Globe article about this restaurant in Ball Square (Somerville) awhile back, and have been meaning to try it for awhile. I finally had a chance to go tonight. I called at around 5 PM and was able to make a 7:30 PM reservation with no problems. We were also able to find metered street parking pretty easily.
Our over all impression? Pretty good, although we’re not sure if we’d come back again.
Why? Honestly? We kept comparing each dish with similar ones from Basta Pasta and continued to judge the ones from Pescatore inferior. Granted, you can’t completely compare the two restaurants. Pescatore is full service, sells wine, accepts credit card, and has much better ambiance. However, the food is clearly several steps below Basta Pasta. I will describe each dish we ordered below:
These are deep fried arborio rice balls filled with cheese and accompanied by a tomato dipping. The arancini balls here were pleasantly crunchy on the outside, but had bland flavor inside. The cheese flavor was not very noticeable, and the peas inside did not add much. If Basta Pasta’s arancini was an “A,” these would be C+.
Crab Cakes ($11.95)
Again (this will begin to seem like a theme), “not bad,” but also, as one member of our party said, “not the best I’ve ever had, although there are some nice big chunks of crabmeat.”
Fusilli Amalfi ($16.95)
The reviewer from the Boston Globe strongly recommended this dish, stating that “it was so good it made our eyes roll.” This dish was actually pretty good. Clearly these chefs specialize in seafood, and all the seafood was perfectly cooked – nothing was rubbery or overcooked. The homemade fusilli was pleasantly chewy (although still a few steps inferior to the homemade fusilli at Basta Pasta), and the broccoli rabe, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and shrimp in a white wine, garlic and oil sauce created a very nice blend of flavors. This was probably my favorite dish.
Gnocci Sorrentino ($12.95)
The homemade gnocci came in a ceramic bowl covered with cheese and tomato sauce. Basta Pasta actually does not sell gnocci dishes, so I cannot make that comparison. I thought this dish was OK (I like the one at Il Panino better), and Bryan said he liked it.
This Italian seafood stew was one of the specials of the day, and we ordered it. Like I had mentioned before, these people know how to cook seafood. Generally, I don’t like fully cooked tuna because it is tough and flavorless. The tuna in this dish was extremely fresh (Catch of the Day). It had good flavor and a perfect, soft texture. The remaining seafood also were cooked perfectly. The sauce was good, and we enjoyed this dish.
Chicken Marsala ($14.95)
This was probably the worse dish we had, which further emphasizes the point that these people know how to cook seafood. The chicken was overcooked and was a bit dry and tough. The Marsala sauce had virtually no sugar nor cream, which made it taste differently from most Marsala sauces we’ve tried. The small dumplings that came with the meal were mediocre at best. We couldn’t help but keep talking about how good the chicken marsala at Basta Pasta was, and how Reno (the cook at Basta Pasta), really knows how to cook a perfect chicken breast. As one member of our party says, “there’s no one that can cook chicken like Reno does. I’m not sure how it does it.” There was no comparison here.
The tiramisu was actually excellent – layers of lady fingers soaked in a nice, dark espresso + rum mixture with light marscapone cheese in between. I even said at the end of dessert, “that was the best part of the meal.” We all agreed that the dessert was really good.
To reiterate what I said before, the food here is quite good, and they definitely know how to cook seafood. The ambiance is also very nice. However, the over all general talent of the chef is still inferior to Reno’s (of Basta Pasta) and those in North End. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a reasonably priced restaurant (most of our entrees ranged between $12 – $17), a nice ambiance, good food, wine, and seafood, this is not a bad option.
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