Circolo - Manchester By-The-Sea
Well, I am conflicted. Expectations of things italian like lots of bread and olive oil were misconceived. Sure, there was the bread lady with tongs working the room, but where was she when we got to the bottoms of our bowls and needed the bread? (the tables are so small there is no room for a bread basket..) A wine list that is predominantly Italian was intimidating as there was nothing familiar to order. After chatting with the owner, that is intentional. He has small-vineyard and unique wines that are 'approachable' but if you are not versed in micro-run Italian vintners, you need to ask. I did and got an obscure California chard that was acidic, sharp and unbalanced in any way and bascially undrinkable. It was taken back unquestioningly for a basic table wine that was fine. At the same time, another table was sending a bottle back and that seemed to raise some eyebrows. The food though - I wanted it to be better than it was although my wife had a veal chop that was absolutely transcendent. Writing about this chop would be akin to dancing about architecture; incomprehensable. My standard pasta and seafood dish could have been served up by any neighborhood hole-in-the-wall with bolder, brighter agressive flavors. I wished it were better and the bowl larger. We sampled the risotto: eh. But the place has potential and I hope it someday lives up to its pretensions. Its Nantucket prices without the knock-out punches that can make it worthwhile. I might go back on a few months if I am feeling charitable. It really at this point is not chowhound-worthy in my opinion. Several N. End places kick it, this place needs time.