North End

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Snugly nestled in Boston’s bustling North End sits Parla, an Italian speakeasy that opened in April. I got to check it out on a recent girls’ night out, and it is the perfect place for such an occasion.

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The cocktail list at Parla is a ton of fun; classics like the margarita are mixed up with rye; I am a huge fan of rye and was excited to see this. To start off, I went with the Bee Sting Julep, a slightly spicy, slightly sweet blend of habanero honey infused whiskey with mint and lemon. It had a nice kick while also being refreshing!

 

bee sting julep cocktailAs it often happens when I am out with these ladies (which is not often enough!) we ordered lots of things to share. Parla’s menu is perfect for sharing, especially since you’ll have a hard time choosing what to order. What did we have?

arancini

Braised Oxtail Arancini – These were one of my favorites of the night. I loved the bit of meat in the hot and chewy arancini, and the sauce that came alongside would be perfect for mopping up with bread or just about anything.

quail egg carbonaraWe also had the Quail Egg Carbonara, which was topped with a runny quail egg just waiting to be mixed in with the hot pasta and salty bacon.

lobster ravioliThe Lobster and Uni Ravioli was as beautiful as it was delicious. Out of all of the pasta dishes (We had four, but my photos didn’t come out great.), this was my favorite. I loved the creamy pink sauce, and the addition of fava beans was nice for texture.

Secco You can’t have a dinner outing with the ladies without a bottle of bubbles, and we enjoyed a bottle of Secco Prosecco with the meal. Italian bubbly certainly goes well with Italian dishes and lots of chatter!

I would recommend Parla heartily; I sent some friends there the following night, and they loved it too. It’s a great spot in the heart of the North End, doing food that is fun, creative, and delicious!

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Tags: Boston, cocktail, Dining out, dinner, food blog, Italian food, North End, prosecco, restaurant, Restaurants, wine

I can literally count the number of times I have cooked a real meal this summer on one hand. This blog, once full of recipes and food photos hasn’t seen a homecooked meal since our Bastille Day bouilliabase feast.  With such gorgeous weather, the thought of spending any time inside just hasn’t appealed to me, so there have been plenty of dinners out, calls to Shanti, and turkey subs. . . lots of turkey subs on the boat. I am okay with all of this, hoping that now with the depressing darkness and cooler temperatures, I will be more inclined to stay inside to cook and blog.

One of the best parts about the summer is that there have been lots of date nights, often spontaneous ones, that turn out to be incredibly special and memorable.  Our date night at Mamma Maria was one of them. We met up after work, our only plan to wander the North End, and when hunger started to set in, we found ourselves near Mamma Maria. In the past we have enjoyed cozy meals in their Piccolo Room, a dining room that seats four, overlooking North Square. It was just our luck that the Piccolo Room was open for the next two hours, and we were soon seated in our own private restaurant.

Mamma Maria Piccolo Room

We caught up on our days over cocktails. I don’t quite remember what mine was called, but it was full of fresh peach puree, summery and delicious.

cocktail

Villa Bucci Verdicchio

We decided to share a half bottle of wine with our meals, which consisted of several small plates. The Villa Bucci Verdicchio was perfect with food, acidic and full of floral and mineral notes.

burrata

To start, we shared the burrata with tomatoes and the zucchini special, which included zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and fried. Heaven is fried zucchini blossoms.

zucchini blossoms

scallops

Our second course was all about gorgeous seafood. We shared the scallops, which were perfectly seared and accompanied by orange slices, fennel, and peppery arugula.

lobster ravioli

The lobster ravioli, a signature Mamma Maria dish, were full of sweet lobster and dressed with the perfect amount of rich sauce, asparagus, and mushrooms. The portion sizes were perfect for sharing, and every bite was absolutely delicious. The fact that we were all alone in the room with really attentive service made it a romantic evening to remember.

We decided to skip indoor dessert in order to take a neighborhood stroll, taking in all of the locals enjoying the warm summer evening. We eventually landed at Bova’s for cannolis, a sweet way to end the perfect date night.

If you live in Boston, what’s your favorite North End restaurant? If you don’t what’s your favorite place for a date?

Happy Birthday today to my mom, the most wonderful woman in the world!

 

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Tags: Boston, Dining out, Food, North End, Restaurants, wine

The North End’s Nebo has been on my “must-visit” list for quite some time now. Over the Boston Marathon weekend this past year, we had plans to go there. Heat and huge North End crowds drove us to the cooler, quieter suburbs for dinner at A Tavola in Winchester, so when I had an event in the North End this week, right across the street from Nebo, we decided to make a long overdue visit.

Nebo has been around since 2005, which makes it even worse that I made my first visit in 2012! It is owned by two sisters, Carla and Christine Pallotta, who have been inspired by their grandmother, mother, and travels through Italy to create a beautiful, delicious wine bar and restaurant.

Nebo Boston

Our dinner at Nebo happened on a 90 degree evening, so we both cooled off with a rosé wine from Planeta, one of my favorites, and a stop on my dream vacation to Sicily. Pretty, pink, cool, with flavors of ripe strawberries and rose petals, this wine, like all Planeta wines, was delightful.

Planeta wine

We had a hard time deciding on what to order from Nebo’s extensive menu and eventually decided to share a few things. To start, we had the bruschette ricotta: nebo fig spread, ricotta, prosciutto di parma, all which went perfectly with the wine. The salty meat and sweet fig spread were a big hit with both of us. As with the rest of our meal, the portion size for the price provided some really outstanding value which is always a reason to return.

bruschetta

We split two entrees; of course we had to try the winner of the Bobby Flay Throwdown, zucchini lasagna which was made up of layered zucchini, homemade ricotta, mozzarella, romano, marinara sauce. We also ordered the pappardelle alla Bolognese: slow braised meat ragù, tomato, cream, pecorino romano. Both dishes were hearty and made with a fresh, tangy tomato sauce. The pappardelle was to-die-for; it doesn’t get much better than homemade pasta!  And we could totally tell why the zucchini lasagna was a winner. My meat-loving husband actually liked that dish even better than the Bolognese. We ended up with two sizeable portions to bring home for lunch the next day.

dinner at Nebo

We were fairly full by the time the dessert menu came along, but Nebo offers a simple favorite, affogato, so we had to share it. Fluffy, creamy vanilla bean gelato mixed with rich, hot espresso? Dreamy. It was just the right amount of sweet to end the night.

affogato

The service at Nebo was fantastic. Our server was very friendly and checked in on us several times without being too pushy. It was the perfect place for a relaxing date. With so many menu items to try, Nebo will be seeing us again!

Did you eat anywhere delicious this weekend?

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Tags: Boston, dessert, dinner, Food, Nebo, North End, Restaurants, wine

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