Ah, to be back home in Boston once again. After taking just, you know, a little trip to the Bahamas for New Years being back in Boston is nice…even if it is -13 with the wind chill. Any-who, its become a sort of tradition now that when I’m home my parents and I treat ourselves to a fancy North End meal. I mentioned this in my Mammamaria post, but treating yourself to a special meal is fun and well worth it. This time we tried Mammamaria’s neighbor, North Square Oyster.
Located directly across the street is North Square, a lovely older building where the restaurant takes up two floors overlooking the square and an adorable little bar next door. The building is timeless, beautiful ceilings that look foreign in comparison to newer buildings in the area. Chairs and booths situated in the rounded out windows make for a cozy feel when sitting there and mood lighting certainly does, well, set the mood!
As we looked over the menu it is not the typical Italian one is expecting. It’s up there with Mammamaria in terms of how upscale and sophisticated the menu is. You won’t find classic rigatoni with sauce, but items like mushroom risotto and gnocchi in a sweet broth. All the items sound superb and any choices we made that night would have left our taste buds feeling a sense of expansion.
The first dish we ordered was actually a special that evening. Gnocchi in a sweet, sour broth. The gnocchi was definitely homemade, perfectly cooked and absolutely divine. The broth was delicious, a different sweetness to it than you’d expect. Not the typical gnocchi dish one would be expecting, but certainly a delicious one.
The next dish we got was the NY strip steak with caramelized onions, trumpet mushrooms, and pommes purée (mashed potatoes). Okay, first of all, I know mashed potatoes are just potatoes and butter, but these pommes purée were insane. So rich and buttery and seasoned perfectly. There really is nothing like good steak and potatoes. The steak was really juicy and had good flavor to it and was cooked well. The onions were so fragrant and had a strong taste to them, certainly fresh and I’m sure picked at the market that morning.
Lastly, and certainly the best of the three dishes, was the mushroom risotto. I like getting risotto when I go out if I can (and feel like it) because risotto is a rice that needs time, not something chefs on “Top Chef” like to make. This mushroom risotto was just incredible. With pickled chanterelles, maitake and cepes, and pumpkin spiced almonds it was out of this world. So creamy and warm, the flavors coming together between the mushrooms and pumpkin almonds. I guess, and I could just not be paying attention, but I never thought of mushrooms and pumpkin spice together! What a combination! It truly took the risotto up a notch with that hint of spice.
North Square is a higher end kind of place, being in the same square as Mammamaria you kind of have to be. Both restaurants have a bit of a reputation of serving superb Italian food and I can honestly say that it’s true. Different vibes, but one common goal…to serve incredible, high end, innovative Italian food. As you tour the Paul Revere house when you’re in Boston, think about just going up the street. Whether it be for drinks at North Square’s cute little bar or having dinner there, it’ll be worth every penny…your taste buds will thank you.