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The Goodlife - Finally

l
lypp Feb 11, 2007 05:18 AM

Any regular readers of this board know that I am a huge fan of Michael Scelfo's food so I am excited to report that I FINALLY got to get over there and try out the Goodlife. I was not disappointed!

There were 4 of us and we headed over around 7:30. The dining room was probably half full so no problem getting a table. We started off with drinks from the menu - the 28 Kingston was delicious and my husband ordered the filthy martini but was disappointed to not find blue cheese anywhere. The rest of the evening was stellar though.

Although they had some specials last night (including steak tartar and a crab and asparagus pizza that we got to go home but somehow ended up with one of our dining companions...) we stuck to the regular menu and got 4 appetizers and 4 entrees to share among all of us. To start, we got they oysters, the cider braised berkshire bacon, the pressed duck reuben, and the risotto. The bacon was honestly one of the best things I have ever tasted. The pork was crispy on the outside but melt-in-your-mouth tender and had some kind of warm spice that I was never able to figure out because my dining companions wouldn't let me have all of it! The risotto was also outstanding. We have always thought that Scelfo has a way with risotto - it's always creamy but not heavy - and this rendition was no exception. The creaminess of the risotto was matched nicely with the brocolli and the 2 big scallops on top were cooked to perfection. Another home run. The pressed duck reuben (I was skeptical) was another hit - crunchy bread stuffed with duck and a sour cherry slaw. It was served with homemade pickles and a crunchy cole slaw that we all really enjoyed. Finally, the oysters were fried oysters served with an old bay tartar sauce and some (I think) celery root slaw. While this dish was also quite good, it was the least complex in terms of flavors - great for someone who likes straight ahead, clean flavors. The slaw was also very refreshing.

On to the entrees. We got the "local fun guy" pizza, the steak frites, the monkfish, and the pasta carbonara. The steak frites was amazing - a strip steak cooked perfectly medium rare, served over DELICIOUS creamed spinach and a side of Scelfo's rosemary fries. Two things make this an improvement over the version at the NSG. First, the cut of meat is MUCH better and there was really no fat or gristle to remove. Second, if I recollect correctly (and my memory may be failing me here), the fries at the NSG were skinless while the one's he served last night had the skin on, just bringing out the earthiness of the rosemary fries even more. He has also added cheese to this version, which for me not being a cheese fan, was overkill, but the cheese lovers at my table LOVED it. Nevertheless, there were plenty of fries to pick at without cheese and plenty with cheese so we were all happy. The pizza had a thin, crispy crust that was delicious and one of my dining companions commented that even though she hates mushrooms, she could have eaten the entire pizza. Another hit. I was also very excited to try the pasta dish because to the best of memory, Scelfo never did pasta at the NSG. This version was outstanding. The pasta came out with an egg yolk on top that we then swirled into the bacon and regianno laden sauce. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the pepperiness of the carbonara just right against the smokiness of the bacon. A truly outstanding dish. Finally, we had the monkfish, which happens to be one of my favorites. This version came perfectly seared on the outside and tender on the inside and was served over potatos, bacon, and brussel sprouts. The dish was good, but compared to the rest of the entrees was probably our least favorite - again perhaps due to the fact that it was the least complex flavorwise.

Although we barely had room we also tried dessert - a banana cake and a chocolate cake. The banana cake was the clear winner even for my friend who said that "if it ain't chocolate it ain't dessert." The banana cake was reminiscent of banana bread and served with a caramel sauce, whipped cream, and delicious vanilla tuille cookie. The chocolate cake, while also good, is not for the faint of heart - very decadent and rich. It was served with a raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and a chocolate tuille. We actually found ourselves fighting over who got to eat the tuille cookies so they may want to consider adding a dessert with just those (maybe with some fresh berries)!

Our server was nice, efficient, and knowledgeable. She brought sharing plates for us as well as new silverware between the apps and the mains. And as she brought each dish she described it to us so we would remember all of the elements. After making gluttens of oursevles we ended up at about $80 pp., which included several rounds of drinks, 2 bottles of wine (all their wines are available by the glass and by the bottle and while there were 6-7 options each for red and white, we were told that they are going to be expanding the wine list shortly), all the food noted above, and tax and tip. It is probably the most you could ever spend there as the prices are VERY reasonable. Around 10 o'clock the downstairs started getting busy and it was time for us to move on, but all in it was a FABULOUS experience and we will definitely be back.

  1. t
    twentyoystahs Feb 20, 2007 11:36 AM

    The antipasto platter is a MUST at Teatro. It's always phenomenal.

    1. s
      Splendid Spatula Feb 20, 2007 09:05 AM

      The night before Teatro a group of us went to the Good Life. A fine meal, in a disturbingly empty room. Steak frites was highly flavorful and almost fat-less (could have used a less precise hand in the trimming in my opinion). I thought the risotto mushy but again, had such a small taste that I shouldn't really comment. The green salad was liked so much that a second one was ordered for the table. And those fried oysters, wow, that's not just cornmeal coating them, I'd guess cornbread crumbs. Very crunchy, a touch spicy, not something I really wanted to share with anyone else! Other entrees not sampled but pronounced good were the chicken (looked boring to me, but I didn't try it) and the monkfish, the eater of which practically licked the plate. I'd have liked more blue cheese on my otherwise tasty fried. But the room was completely empty except for one table when we arrived at 7, and only one other party came in before we left at 9. This on a Saturday night - odd. The bar wasn't much busier. I thought we were in the wrong place when we arrived!

      The next night was Teatro, with my friend's cream-less carbonara. Really! But then my (large, juicy, delicious) grilled veal chop did not come with the advertised grilled endive and radicchio , rather it had a bed of broccoli rabe and a strip or two of grilled radicchio. Not a disaster, but the endive had really sold me and since it was a special one might think they'd keep the waitstaff better informed on that. We split an antipasto platter to start, which was tremendous. Very thinly sliced salami and prosciutto, some fresh mozz with just a bit of fresh tomato, bruschetta with roasted peppers, addictive caponata, small rich arancini, white bean spread, and the only slightly blander option a squid salad. I'm likely forgetting a few things, but this was very large (three of us had plenty for $24) and delicious. Finished there with panna cotta, beautifully white and smooooooooth.

      1. w
        wontonton Feb 19, 2007 07:23 AM

        I've had lunch here since the change in the kitchen and enjoyed it, finally, I ate dinner here and while I agree the steak frites was good, cooked to order, with great spinach, fries, etc, there happened to be a lot of fat that needed to be trimmed off, which was a bit of a bummer but maybe just the luck of the draw. We also ordered a margherita pizza that was surprisingly rather blah, with wimpy crust and not much zing on top. To give you an idea how I'd rank it, I've had better bar pizza at Kings (that bowling alley) and Charlie's Saloon on Newbury, no kidding. The mac and cheese was indeed very good and heavy on the garlic. I would definitely go back, but maybe the pizza needs a topping to be worth it.

        1. b
          bartleby Feb 15, 2007 03:36 PM

          Had lunch there today. The wait was longer than advertised, but the hostess kept checking in and then (after getting our okay) improvised a table-for-three that was a little snug but saved an additional wait. I had a Cuban sandwich that departed from the norm by using pulled pork instead of roast pork. The pickles were unusual, sliced thick and spicy. I'm no Cubano expert (never even been to Chez Henri), but this was a damn good sandwich. Fries were pretty nice, too. My companions both had another pressed sandwich, turkey and brie and sliced green applies on thick slices of rustic white. Didn't get a taste, but they were impressed. Pricier than my usual lunch (the bill was $48 for three sandwiches and soft drinks), but I'll be back for that Cubano.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bartleby
            n
            Northender Feb 16, 2007 09:27 AM

            I think Mike Scelfo makes his own pickles from a recipe he obtained from either an aunt or a grandmother... they are pretty good.

          2. Food4Thought Feb 14, 2007 02:21 PM

            Disclaimer: We dined here after an all day adventure at the Boston Wine Expo (Doubt we'll do that again) and then a few beers across the street at the irish dive.

            I was very excited to about GL from the wonderful posts here. We got there initially at about 5:15 and were informed that they did not open until 6:00 no big deal...across the street for a few pints. When we arrived about an hour later, we were amongst the first in the dining room. Low dance/trance music playing in the background.

            My wife and I pounced on the tuna tartar but they were out. 3 of us shared the Mac n' cheese, the carbonara and the pizza of the day which was crab (real) and asparagus.

            My wife had a glass of chardonay and my buddy and I had the bar tender surprise us, we were served the Dark and Stormy and the El Diablo (sauza blanco tequila, pomegranate juice, fresh lime and sugar) both very good.

            When the dishes arrived we were informed that the chef was not pleased with the Foie gras which usually accompanies the mac & cheese so it would be taken off of our bill. Wow. Regardless it was very good and even passed muster with the wife who regards Kraft mac and cheese as a holy comfort food (hey, we all have our guilty pleasures). This was a big hit. The pizza was very good, but the crust could have been a little more well done, yet I can understand not wanting to subject the fresh crab more than necessary to the heat of the oven, it was best to eat this just as it came out.

            I was excited about the classic preparation of the carbonara with the raw egg yolk but my DC's were more accustomed to the gloppy creamy variation which is fine.

            I'm with Lypp, this was a perfect al dente which made the pasta a stand out element of the dish as opposed to just a transport for the wonderful sauce, everyone turned out loving this.

            The service was fine, but a little spotty, perhaps it was due to the early hour before they had time to get their game face on, but it was still acceptable. We recieved the bill and the Mac and Cheese was on it, but a few momets later our server stated that she was printing out a new one sans M&C w/ out or prompting. We would have gladly paid for it even though it was missing the Fois Gras ( we tipped as though it was included)

            We will certainly go back to try some of the other dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Food4Thought
              t
              twentyoystahs Feb 16, 2007 09:49 AM

              A question on the carbonara: from both your posts, it sounds like this dish was prepared the authentic and traditional way --olive oil, pancetta, egg yolk, reggiano cheese, a dash of salt and pepper and red pepper too --no cream. Is that true?
              Unfortunately authentic carbonara has been bastardized in america, in most cases it's just a big gloppy creamy mess: as you say, all about the rich sauce and not at all about the subtle flavors when the sauce and pasta combine. I'm curious to know if this guy is making it right.

            2. Rubee Feb 12, 2007 08:57 AM

              Great review. That carbonara sounds delicious - I'll have to order that the next time we go!

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