Our visit to Enzo Restaurant & Bar in Newburyport on Friday night makes me wish I lived in town so I could become a regular. I have had few dining experiences that were so perfect from start to finish in every way, and we literally have been talking about the food ever since.
As I have mentioned in past posts, we typically make the journey to Newburyport every few months. We love the seaside town year-round; if we ever left the city it’s a place we could see ourselves living. Our last visit was very recent, but when I found myself having to go to Newburyport for a meeting related to potential Social Media work, my husband decided to meet me there after work.
My meeting was actually in the same complex of buildings as Enzo, so I arrived first, just as it was starting to lightly snow. Newburyport is colder than Boston, and I was happy to get inside and take a seat at the then-quiet bar. I initially thought that, being that Enzo’s focus is on Italian cuisine, I would want a glass of wine. That is until I saw their creative cocktail menu. I had a difficult time deciding, but since I always like something sparkly, I went with the Zenzero Frizzante: Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, maple bitters and Prosecco, spiced up with a square of candied ginger.
Bubbly and with a warm, spicy ginger kick, this drink was absolutely delicious. The bartender was very sweet and hospitable, and I felt relaxed and at home while I waited for my husband. He’s often the one late to arrive due to his commute, and sometimes I feel pressured to order food or more drinks while waiting; not here. It was nice to quietly enjoy my drink while catching up on emails I missed during my meeting.
One my husband arrived, we were seated at a cozy window table for two, and we started going over the menu. While we did so, we each ordered a cocktail. This time I opted for the Cranberry Old Fashioned: A seasonal take on the classic Old Fashioned: local, organic cranberries muddled with orange and Old Overholt rye. I loved the tart cranberries in this very New England-y drink. We can’t wait to return to Enzo just to try more of their cocktails.
We had a really hard time deciding on what to order; Enzo would be a great place for a group because there are so many appealing options. We wanted to share every appetizer, but we finally agreed on two.
Gamberi fritti / Fried Maine shrimp – fresh Maine shrimp (caught for us by the F/V Sweet Carolyn), flash-fried and served shell on with fingerling potato chips and tartar sauce
These shrimp were super fresh, and, as the menu suggested, tasted really great with the flash fried shells ON. The fingerling potato chips acted as more than just a garnish; they were really great dipped into the tartar sauce as well.
I also had to have the olives.
Olive all’ascolana / Fried olives – crispy morsels stuffed with herbed cheese
Eric’s brother and his beautiful wife and our two adorable nephews live in Marche, very near Ascoli Piceno where Olive all’ascolana originate. My sister-in-law, who is native to the region, makes the most amazing olives stuffed with a meat mixture, fried, and topped with fresh lemon juice and salt. These olives were vegetarian, and the creamy, warm cheese went perfectly with the briny olives. With any luck, this June, I will be eating olives in Ascoli, but Enzo’s will definitely do for now.
After a week of several tough marathon training workouts, my body wanted comfort food, and I found it in the Mandilli con salsa marinara e ricotta / Free form lasagna – house-made pasta handkerchiefs layered with house-made ricotta & roasted tomato sauce. I added in the optional Kellie Brook Farm hot Italian sausage for a flavorful, satisfying meal. The house-made pasta was light, silky, and fresh, absolutely perfect. And being that it was a deconstructed lasagna made it fun to grab a bite of this and that together.
And despite being quite full, we saved room to share dessert and cappuccino. What you see here is called Bicherin: a traditional sipping dessert from Turin: a layer of dark, rich chocolate sauce, espresso (regular or decaf, your choice) and lightly sweetened whipped cream; spoon it or sip it, either way it’s a delicious way to end your meal.
I call it pure heaven. Each spoonful brought a bit of dark, hot chocolate from the bottom of the jar, along with some espresso and cream. Heaven.
To our cappuccino, we added some of the house-made Reilly’s Irish Cream. Don’t tell any of the family back in Ireland, but we liked Reilly’s even better than Bailey’s.
There’s a lot to love about Enzo, and it doesn’t just end with the food. The service, from the minute I walked in, was warm, attentive, and welcoming. And the restaurant makes huge efforts to source their food locally from small producers; they even have a farmer’s market dinner every other Sunday. What a great experience!
What was the best dining experience you have had recently?