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Comella's, No "Mess", "No Mas"

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A very sad thing occurred to Comella's in West Newton. Several years ago, they concocted a dish called "Mess" which appeared to be leftover lasagna, stuffed shells and eggplant parmigiana all mushed together with more cheese melted on top. It was excellent and earned them well deserved raves from the Boston Globe. I returned yesterday after several years away and found that they now have approx. 30 variations of "Mess". I proceeded to order 3 dishes, Lasagna with "mess", Chicken Parm. with "mess" and "Papas Mess" (Mess with meatball). I brought the food home and when I opened each meal much to my chagrin, I found that sadly the aforementioned "Mess" had evolved from lasagna, eggplant parm and stuffed shells to Ziti with sauce, a couple of very small slivers of eggplant (not eggplant parm) and cheese melted on top. I was so saddened by this turn of events that I called Comella's to voice my dissapointment. When I did, the woman on the phone merely said that she "...was sorry that I felt this way..." I chose not to inform her that this was not a feeling or an emotion but a fact that ziti with sauce is not and never will be "MESS"!! Shame on you Comella's!

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  1. I'm sorry to hear your comments. I saw this restaurant reviewed by the Phantom Gourmet; he thought it was wonderful and I definitely wanted to try it sometime. Now, I'm having second thoughts about going there. Thank you for the info.

    1 Reply
    1. re: skiboom

      Since that person's comment was from more than 4 years ago, it might have little to do with any recent Phantom review.

    2. Has anyone been to Comella's recently, who can give a more recent review? Thanks in advance.

      1 Reply
      1. re: skiboom

        I was there New Years Day, after a movie next door. It was my last blast before going back on Weight Watchers. I got the veal parm with eggplant parm, but my daughter got "grandpa's mess", and we saw other folks getting mess as their side on the dinner plates. My daughter's "mess" was the leftover lasagna, eggplant, etc, etc. with meatballs and sausage. It was also possible to order the dinners with a side of ziti, and I'm wondering if that's what might have occurred to the original poster. Maybe the order was incorrectly filled, and the person who answered the phone at Comella's didn't want to "fess up." The folks who work in the front of the shop are mostly youngish (high school?)kids.
        I'd definitely give the place another shot. All our food was yummy.

      2. I went a number of times, but about a year ago or longer. The mess was indeed the mess I've come to know and love. I heard they are opening a new location in West Roxbury? Anyone know if it is open yet?

        my blog

        1. Looks like it will open late January or February.


          I heard it will be in the old Yankee Copy at 1844 Centre Street

          1. My family absolutely loves Comella's "mess". I think we get "Pa's Mess" most often. It's the one with the meatballs. I'm not sure if it has eggplant or not, but it's full of different types of pasta and lots of meat and cheese.

            Their fusilli is really good too. It's homemade.

            1. VERY late in replying to this, but I've got to add to this post. I'm often in Newton/Needham/Wellesley for work and have heard repeatedly that Comella's is a must visit for their "homey" Italian food. Bolstered by all the raving press I've seen on them (Phantom, Globe, etc.), I just *had* to eat there, and soon! Racking my brains on how to get the family some dinner after a very long day at work, I called in a take-out order to Comella's in Wellesley ... spoke with a young-ish girl on the phone who described "mess" to me as "kinda liked baked ziti", and said that the portions were huge. Intrigued and hungry, I ordered a mess with eggplant and veal – I was assured that the two could be put on the same plate, but for an additional cost. No problem, and we’ll take a garden salad, a Caesar salad, and a half-loaf of garlic bread. I arrived to an entirely empty restaurant (I was the only customer there) to pick up what was probably the *worst* meal I’ve had in years. The veal was leather-dry, the eggplant an oil-soaked mush – breading sliding off both and blanketed with cheese – but the absolute WORST thing was the “mess” itself. Overly sauced, semi-reheated, **PAR-BOILED**, pasta! You know, when cooking is to be completed a-la-minute … well, that second part seemed to be missing from the formula. Plus they screwed up and prepared two orders of this mess (instead of one), and the nice girl behind the counter argued with me that that’s what I ordered (whatever ... I bought the two thinking that "mess" should make for good leftovers). I also bought tiramisu, almond cake, and oreo pie for dessert as well. Simply put, "freshness" does not exist in their dictionary, it seems. We binned the entire meal and I vowed never to go near that place again. Redux: last week a coworker decided to bring in dinner for a late work session -- you guessed it: Comella’s. I ordered exactly the same combo to see if my experience was a fluke (after all, these are people who are jumping up and down in their seats excited about the dinner to arrive). The *very* same experience yet again. Most horrifying is their abuse of the pasta … how can they get away with that? More shockingly is that nobody seemed to think that anything was wrong until I tossed out my entire meal after two bites, and returned to my office. Then they were saying "wait, this doesn’t taste right?" Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Mess indeed. Never again.

              7 Replies
              1. re: onlyfood

                I must pipe in that I visited the W. Newton Comella's last year and was thoroughly underwhelmed. ciabaresta hits it right on the head. Just because a place has been in business for 20 yrs, doesn't mean they maintain their quality...also, plenty of mediocre places survive for a LONG TIME!

                1. re: Science Chick

                  I've been to Comella's once --ordered a chicken parm sandwich and it was excellent and enough for 2 meals (which is always a plus for me.) I will say that The mess doesn't sound at all appealing to me, so I wouldn't try it anyway. I have friends who dine often at the W Rox location and have only good things to say; might be best just to stick with the basics here.

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    Agree - stick with the non-mess basics. I keep going back to the W. Newton store for The Mess in the hopes it's as good as it was the first time I had it 2+ years ago and end up disappointed every time. I, too, have found that it's nothing more than ziti/shells with sauce and cheese - no lasagna, no eggplant, no Mess! The basics that don't involve Mess, on the other hand, never disappoint.

                2. re: onlyfood

                  I ate lunch there once about two years ago when I was working in the area. I thought the "mess" was OK, though mainly distinguished by the size of the serving. One of my colleagues however, disliked his food so much he vetoed any suggestions to return.

                  1. re: ciaobaresta

                    Did takeout from the Wellesley location about 6 months ago. Watched the kid at the counter take something out of the refrigerator and microwved it. It was so bad I threw it away. The worst food I have had in a long time.

                    1. re: emilief

                      Not for me either. My husband brought me home one of those messes and I politely asked him to never bring that home to me ever again. My daughter and her friends love it there but it is not for me.

                      1. re: hoplover

                        Sorry to dig up old threads, but I just wanted to report on my first ever taste of a Comella's mess (got the Nephew Mess) from the W. Roxbury occasion. My sentiments echo the ones above - pretty blech. Overboiled pasta, sugary sweet, un-nuanced red sauce, hard dry chunks of sausage and unseasoned eggplant. A buttload of bland food. I guess I can see the "mainstream" (non-chowhound) appeal of this dish, it's a novelty, and a gargantuan novelty at that.