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Prezza review - Warning: very long!

j
Jujubee Jan 9, 2002 03:05 PM

I had dinner at Prezza last night and was very impressed. At most 'nice restaurants' I find that the food is usually good, but not spectacularly so. However, I had quite a few moments where I found myself thinking 'wow, how do they do that?'

I went with a large group of people and we asked the waiter to bring out lots of appetizers for the table (all from the menu, but just in bigger portions). There were a lot, so I can't remember the exact names, but here goes:

Steamed mussels in a tomato sauce with bits of sausage: The mussels were good - plump, fresh, not at all off tasting - but what really impressed me about this dish was the bits of sausage underneath the mussels. They were a perfect balance between too chunky and too smooth, with a great flavor. It was just salty enough with other savory flavors, but no one flavor (particular spice or meat) dominated. I can't describe it except to say that I was surprised at how very good it was.

Huge fried prawns in a crispy light coating: quite yummy, not at all greasy, good balance of flavors (very slightly sweet), cooked until tender but not chewy. Very well done, but considering all the other interesting things they had, not a taste standout.

Lamb skewers with a lentil sauce: I thought this was a bit underseasoned but was very impressed by the lamb itself. Tender but not mushy, with a clear young lamb flavor that was not so strong as to make me think 'mutton.' The lentils underneath were okay, but I thought they were a little undercooked and tasty faintly medicinal.

Portabello mushrooms on polenta: fabulous. The polenta was incredible - extremely smooth and creamy, but not mushy feeling, with a surprisingly integrated flavor for polenta. The usual buttery, corn-y flavor was there, but somehow better fused together with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. The slices of mushrooms were intensely flavored, without being too salty or one dimensional, and were a perfect complement to the polenta. I would definitely order this appetizer again.

Bread and olive oil: Both of these were much better than average. A generous basket of very warm bread - crusty but not too hard on the outside, warm and soft with the perfect density on the inside served with excellent olive oil with quite a few olives swimming around. Very fresh tasting (if fresh tasting oil makes sense), not overpowering or murky.

We also asked the waiter to bring out some of the pasta dishes to share as appetizers:

Veal ravioli-type-things with a light sauce and black truffles: WOW. These were little packets of tender, smooth veal with a shaving of black truffles and a very thin coating of a sauce I'm going to describe as... creamy but in a syrupy sort of way. Like a thick reduction sauce maybe. I don't know, I would have to be a better cook to get any more specific. But the combination of flavors was just super.

Ravioli-type things with tomatoes and sausage and fennel(?): Good, but I was too busy trying to scarf a few extra veal raviolis (remember we were sharing). However, the sausage on these was quite tasty.

I also split a salad with one of my dinner mates:

Arugala, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, in a balsamic vinagrette ... - can't remember exactly: These salads are HUGE. We split one, and when the waiter brought it out we thought he had accidently brought us each our own. Then we looked down the table at the people who had ordered their own - huge dinner plate sized mounds of greens and such. I was really quite surprised since this was otherwise a sort of very-modest-sized-plates-of-arranged-food type of place (but not too arranged). The argula was fresh, not old and tough, with good creamy, not-chalky goat cheese and flavorful red peppers in a well-balanced vinagrette. However, I probably wouldn't order it again since it's the type of thing I could make myself if I had really good ingredients.

For an entree I ordered the veal loin with saffron lobster risotto and some sort of green (I forget exactly). Excellent quality veal, nice crust on the outside, and very tender and juicy on the inside, but I thought it was a bit underseasoned. However, it had this unctous glaze-y sauce that was tasty, but hard to figure out. One of my dining companions thought maybe it had barbecue flavorings but I didn't taste it. (It was not like barbecue sauce at all, we were just trying to figure out the flavor.) The risotto was good, with generous chunks of lobster considering it was just the side, and the creamy richness contrasted nicely with the slightly bitter greens. However, a few of the lobster chunks were a bit overcooked. After all the fantastic appetizers we had just had, I was not enthralled with my entree, but if we had been in any other nice restaurant, I think I would have been quite happy with it.

I had the red wine the table ordered - a full-flavored, but not overpowering, zinfandel. I would certainly recommend it except that someone else ordered it so I don't know exactly what it was. But they do have a very extensive wine list and a helpful staff.

Dessert was a chocolate hazelnut flourless cake with hazelnut ice cream. Another winner. Very smooth, chocolately, dense, yet surprising light textured. It avoided the major problem with flourless chocolate cake: being TOO dense and bricklike. The hazelnut ice cream was an excellent complement. Actually it was too bad it's overshadowed by such a good cake, because when I took a few bites of it alone, it was quite delicious, creamy and not too sweet, with good sized chunks of hazelnut.

I also shared a small glass of tawny port with a dining companion. Don't know much about port but it tasted great to me.

Overall food-wise: excellent quality, very well integrated flavors, with quite a few 'wow' moments. More than just trendy restaurant hype.

Also, the service was excellent. When 4 (out of 12) arrived early for our reservation, we were seated right away. There was no griping or making us feel uncomfortable when the rest of our group came late. Our waiter was attentive, informative, and accomodating without being intrusive. And the valet parking attendent had my car waiting out front (prewarmed, seat adjusted back to fit my short legs, friendly and helpful in directing me back to the freeway) even though I forgot to give the waiter my parking stub at the end of the meal. (How did he know?)

It was very pricey (about $70 per person with tax, without tip) but we ordered a TON of food and very good wine. If I was going with myself and a date, I would have probably ended up paying about $50 per person.

All-in-all, I highly recommend Prezza for your next special night out!

  1. g
    galleygirl Jan 9, 2002 05:43 PM

    Very careful,informative review--thank you!! Did you happen to notice ANYTHING that had seafood, but no meat? Tho you had me with that lobster risotto!

    4 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl
      j
      Jujubee Jan 10, 2002 06:30 PM

      I thought I had already posted a reply to this message... well, apparently not, since it's not showing up.

      To answer your question, yes they did have plenty of seafood-without-meat options. In the entree section I saw swordfish, salmon, sea bass, and lobster fra diavlo, all of which I'm pretty sure did not have any meat in the accompaniments.

      Cheers!

      1. re: Jujubee
        r
        Rubee Jan 11, 2002 10:16 AM

        Jujubee, I did read your other post earlier about the different seafood options - that's odd that it just "disappeared" ?

        I love Prezza but haven't been there in a while. Your post reminded me and we had dinner there last night. Your descriptions of the dishes were great and made me wonder why I don't go more often. The atmosphere is not your "typical" North End. It's upscale and modern with a warm yet energetic feel. I can't praise the service and the people who work there enough. Anyways, on to the food -

        The chef sent over a melt-in-your mouth rabbit ragu with gnocchi app that was simply delicious. Braised rabbit in an earthy and rich sauce with mushrooms and pearl onions over light potato gnocchi.

        For the entree, I ordered the lobster fra diavlo with saffron parpadelle because you had noted that it wasn't as spicy as some. I don't usually order it because if it's too spicy, you can't taste the lobster. At Prezza, it's just perfect - the pasta (as usual) was cooked perfectly, and the sauce itself was a wonderful combination of brothy, yet rich tomato sauce with just a touch of heat. I wasn't able to have that veal agnolotti with the truffles - we ate late and they had sold the last dish minutes before so I'll be sure to go back for it. However, I have to say that the veal with lobster risotto was my WOW dish - just excellent - juicy, tender veal with far more lobster than you usually find in a risotto, especially as a side dish.

        And if anyone loves coconut cream pie as I do, hurry over to Prezza. A creamy coconut cream pie filling in a buttery, crumbly tart shell, drizzled with chocolate. Just great.

        Also, GalleyGirl - on the menu, they had a wood grilled Squid and Octopus dish with braised white beans and toasted parsley, and a gnocchi in porcini cream that looked like great non-meat options. Link below.

        Link: http://www.prezza.com/

        1. re: Rubee
          t
          tony caturano Jan 15, 2002 09:00 PM

          Thanks for your support

          Anthony Caturano

          Chef Owner Prezza Rest.

          1. re: tony caturano
            e
            Epicurean Feb 4, 2002 10:35 AM

            This is the best food I have ever had. I won a contest and it included dinner here. I can not wait to go back. Save room for dessert!
            Go to www.prezza.com and view the menu.

    2. l
      lynn Jan 9, 2002 07:56 PM

      a request -- actually for all reviews -- please include the location -- the address would be nice, but a general location would help a lot. thanks.

      6 Replies
      1. re: lynn
        j
        JJP Jan 10, 2002 10:14 AM

        Thank you Lynn. I also get frustrated by reviews on this board by folks who rave about the restaurant but apparently want to keep the location a secret.

        1. re: JJP
          n
          Nick Jan 10, 2002 10:33 AM

          24 Fleet Street in the North End. It's also one of the few places that have valet parking.

          1. re: JJP
            j
            Jujubee Jan 10, 2002 12:10 PM

            My interpretation of the purpose of this site varies slightly from yours. It is a forum for food fanatics to exchange ideas and advice, that much we can agree on. However, I think it fundamentally differs from cites like citysearch or zagats in that it's not trying to provide concise professional reviews, complete with all the info needed to dine at that restaurant (locations, phone numbers, etc). I see it more as casually, and somewhat obsessively, telling my experience to some friends. Now of course, if I happen to remember the exact address of the restaurant I would be happy to pass that along, however I usually do not and it is just as much trouble for me to do a quick search online as it is for you. Thus, I do not mind if someone happens to ask for the address or whatnot, but I feel to request that of all future posts and complain about the lack thereof discourages spontaneous posts.

            Please understand that I am not trying to attack either of you for your posts, as I am sure you were just sincerely trying to make the site more user-friendly for all. However, I would certainly feel less inclined to post if I felt I had to "formalize" my review. For me, this is a site among friends, complete with faulty memories, incomplete information, and disagreements.

            Best,
            Julie

            1. re: Jujubee
              i
              ironmom Jan 10, 2002 02:00 PM

              Just keep in mind, that if two people have a discussion about some restaurant, with no city cited, people like out-of-towners can't even look up that restaurant.

              I know I can't visit restaurants when I come to town, regardless of how many people like them, if I don't have a clue where they are.

              1. re: Jujubee
                j
                JJP Jan 12, 2002 12:15 PM

                Julie,

                I appreciate your sentiments, however, no one is asking that you "formalize" your review, complete with address, hours, phone number, credit card info, etc. It's hard to believe, however, that if you had a *verbal* conversation with your friends, and told them about a restaurant you enjoyed, that you wouldn't even mention the city where the restaurant is located! Surely it would take a very faulty memory indeed to not remember that much. There really is a point to this. I happen to live in Norfolk, MA. I would be much more inclined to investigate (or avoid, in the case of a negative review) a restaurant in Needham than in, say, Everett. I wouldn't think that asking reviewers to include that small bit of information as a courtesy should discourage anyone from posting.

                Regards,

                JJP

                1. re: JJP
                  g
                  galleygirl Jan 12, 2002 12:28 PM

                  I guess since it's a Boston board, I've just assumed the places were in Boston, unless someone mentions Medford, or Somerville or...

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