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Mar 13, 2000 03:28 PM

Monica makes magic

  • t

At the urgings of Monica herself, I visited "Monica's" restaurant over the weekend. It's a bit fancy for chowhounds, but we've been talking about supa fancy joints like Truc and Biba, so I'll share my experience at a ~$17 a plate place.

I met Monica at her Salumeria, right across the street from my apartment on Salem. She also owns a pizzeria across the way on Prince St. and the restaurant on Richmond. Before I even had a chance to look around her salumeria, Monica had me gnawing on a free sample of homemade salami, an excellent way to make friends with a chowhound. The Salami was excellent, as are most of her ready-made dishes, but expect to pay yuppie prices. Don't expect traditional Italian, as Monica hails from Argentina and has managed to fuse together her culinary roots with the deep Italian roots of the North End, thereby creating a truly unique cuisine that is remarkable. Unfortuately, her flair does not translate to the realm of pizza very well. The first and only pizza I had from her pizzeria was too bready, dry, short on toppings and cost over $10. But I am not writing to tell you about her pizza, I am writing to tell you about her FOOD.

Imagine Italian food where the sweetness of the tomato is subtly replaced with the zest of a red pepper. I think. All of the dishes had a particular zing that complimented the tomato, perhaps it is that she does not rely as heavily on the sweet roma tomato and opts for a less sweet variation, I don't know. But whatever it is, it's good. Really good.

We started with the mussels appetizer: a huge bowl of fresh mussels soaked in a zesty, somewhat vinigary red sauce. It was the highlight of the meal and we soaked up all of the sauce with some fantastic bread. The bread came to the table with an herbed olive puree, which was one of the more imaginative 'bread dips' I've had in a long time---the last memorable one was actually nothing more than pureed brucetta tomatoes.

Well, I must be off, for now. I'll include the rest of the meal soon...

take care, chowhounds

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  1. Tom - I was thinking about you today and was happy to see your post when I got home this evening. My wife and I went down to the North End this evening to find some of that imported mortadella that Paul has been talking about. We started at Pace - no luck - we went over to Richmond St to the Salumeria Italiana. They repeated the story Paul told me about Tutto Italiano -- that the supplier was supposed to come through with some real Italian mortadella later this week. We crossed back over Hanover to another Salumeria - who tried to pass off the Canadian stuff on us. Monica's Salumeria on Salem was our last stop - no luck there either -but isn't she something. I like the lady and she appears to know a lot about Italian foodstuffs.

    I was curious about Monica's pizzas -across the street under those black sunshades. They had a large pizza with all sorts of toppings for $14. We didn't try it -but went back up Salem to D'Amore's -, which I am about to report on. Afterwards we walked to the Modern and took a couple of canollis home. Ran into Jack Powers -the great Boston poet -- while checking on Ida's menu -Jack just moved into the North End and has a place overlooking the entrance to the tunnel to Eastie. He started the Stone Soup Poets and lived on Beacon Hill. The poetry business is not very lucrative and when his rent went from $450 a month instantly to $1400 -Jack went looking for new digs. The North End sure isn't cheap -but he found a good place he could manage down behind Ida's - so now I have another reason to go down there. Jack was screaming poetry blessings down on the cars funneling north under the harbor below his yard and I recited some verses from the Gospel of Thomas hoping that the drivers were practicing --
    Verse 50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the Living Father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement with repose.'"

    Something every driver ought to remember :-)

    The progress on the Hanover T Station is good -much more comfortable to use now - and the Big Dig is coming along as well. Keep feeding us your adventures in the North End. It is full of wonders.