Antico Forno, N. End
Had a table for 5 reserved for 8:30 and was seated at 9:15. No apparent attempts at actually holding a table but we were in no rush thankfully. We ordered the calamari fritto, some salads and grilled shrimp with arugala for the table, served with bread and olive oil. All were good and we were happy to have some food in front of us.
Ordered a red wine Barbera San Silvestro 2005 (Piedmont) that seemed rather pinchy and high-noted with little balance; I may have sent it back if it were uncorked for me but such is life...so I ordered an Italian Chardonnay, Rivera Reludio No.1 Chardonnay 2004 (Puglia) because as they say in my neighborhood, drink what you like. On a whim, it was a real winner, just minerally and fruity enough but light and clean, more like a Pinot Grigio in some ways our visitors from California agreed. It disappeared quickly and we debated ordering another one.
Main courses were the Frutta di Mare, served en pappilotte and foil and it was perfect, one of the best there is with the bivalves and squid treated just right so that each is right-on. The steamed effect is a great twist on this dish. When I order it next time I will however make the effort to empty the satchel into the baking dish to to avoid the paper shreds that seemed to get scooped up at the bottom of the dish with the final forkfulls That was disappointing but now I know.
A pizza seemed good and crispy with lots of zip to the sauce. Another diner had the Rigatoni and Italian sausage and its apparently one of the many reliably good dishes served. Lots of great looking and great smelling food being served around us made me think I would want to come back and explore the menu some more.
Service was very good and attentive without being intrusive. A professional wait staff no doubt.
Dinner for 5 with added 20% gratuity came to $235 without dessert. We booted over to Lulu's for pastry and headed for home where the Sambuca is chilling.
I would go back but without making reservations since it seems 1st come 1st serve anyway.
I visited last Saturday 4/21/07 with a reservation for 6 at 6:00. Knowing that we'd have to take a nice walk after to make room for dessert, the early reservation worked very nicely. Another advantage of an early reservation: we were seated within 5 minutes of arriving.
The star of the table was the pizza with arugula.
Very nice review! I am a big fan of this place, consider it a reliable crowd-pleaser and relative value for the North End, and personally love just about anything that comes out of that wood-fired oven.
I was curious about your wine comment, though: "pinchy and high-noted with little balance." Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but this seems to imply that you might send a bottle of wine back because you don't like it. I've always thought that the only reason to send a bottle of wine back is because it has spoiled (usually from cork taint, although improper handling, notably allowing exposure to temperature extremes, and other factors can contribute to spoilage). Does that description of the wine mean you think the bottle had gone bad?
Everytime I have had a reservation there they never actually have the table ready when it should be! However, I keep going back because the food is great! They make a great linguine with clams, one of the best i've had outside of Italy.
The wait staff there is is definitely great. I had one really great experience a while back! My dad really loves Peroni beer and one night, we were there and they serve Peroni beer in a really cool Peroni glass. My dad really wanted one so he asked the waitress (who spoke very little English) if he could buy it from them. About two minutes later she came back out with a paper bag. Not only was a peroni glass inside the bag but she gave him about 20 peroni coasters (the kind you might get at a bar). Its service like that, that can make or break a restaurant!