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Sep 21, 2007 08:54 AM

The little gem that is Trattoria Toscana

Realized it had been awhile since I’d been to Trattoria Toscana so decided to have dinner there last night. So glad we went, the meal was fantastic. Got a half carafe of the house red, which was actually quite good. A highly drinkable chianti at a great price ($13/half carafe, I think). DC had a few glasses of various whites which I didn’t really try but he seemed to enjoy. They recently switched to their winter menu, which seemed a little out of place on what felt like a late summer evening, but that’s okay. Started with crostini with chicken liver pate. I love chicken liver pate and this was very good, although it seemed a little bolder in flavor than usual, although maybe that’s because it was warm and I usually enjoy it more towards room temp. I had fettucine with proscuitto and porcini mushrooms that was outstanding. Perfectly cooked pasta, the earthiness of the porcinis and the saltiness of the proscuitto lightly bound with a little cream. Yum! DC had rigatoni with sausage and mascarpone that was also to die for, the mascarpone added a wonderful dimension. Both dishes were rich, but not overly so. Service was excellent as well. This is something I consider just as much as the food. Nothing can ruin perfectly good food like jaded or indifferent service, which was not the case here. Service throughout the room was genuinely friendly and helpful. The only downside, which isn’t their fault, is that parking is a total PITA without a resident sticker (and no, there wasn’t a baseball game). This is someplace I need to keep on my radar…

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  1. I so love this little place; it always makes me happy to read about other good experiences there.

    I only just noticed this a couple of months back, but there's a public parking garage on Queensberry Street between Jersey and Kilmarnock. Queensberry is one-way, so you have to circle around and approach from the Kilmarnock side; it's on the left (north) side of that block. I usually take the #55 bus to get here, or walk from Kenmore Station.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      MC you did a great description of Toscana in your article in the Pheonix this week. But, we may have to stop telling the unworthy about this place. (VBG)

      Great article and congrats on scoring a cover story!

      1. re: BostonZest

        Thanks for the kind words!

        I have sometimes had that very un-Chowish notion: "If I tell everyone about this place, it will become mobbed and I'll never get a table without a two-hour wait again." But I've decided it's better to promote great places I think are overlooked, even if it makes it harder to get in. I've seen too many hidden gems just disappear for lack of crowds, to be replaced by something horrible, e.g., On the Park by Joe V's.

        (I'm sure local Hounds could fill a thread with currently successful restaurants that are far inferior to the ones they replaced, but that's not really in keeping with the board's aims.)

        I hope the Phoenix piece brings some attention and business to places like Don Ricardo's and O Cantinho that I visit regularly to find the dining room half-empty. They deserve better.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I think we are all guilty of that notion from time to time (or maybe most of the time), so don't be too hard on yourself. However with Toscana, I think that their location will keep the crowds down somewhat despite their ongoing excellence. For some reason which is difficult to pinpoint, that part of Fenway is no mans land to many people. Even for those who have had consistently great experiences there, it somehow slips the mind. This is a good thing for those who love the food and the fact that they can always get a table. Though the owners and staff deserve to be mobbed...

    2. We always plan a special treat the week we return from our time away in Provincetown. It has to be something so delightful that we'll feel good about being back in the city.

      Last week we chose Trattoria Toscana to serve that purpose and it did not disappoint. We began with the mushroom crostini with glasses of Pinot Nero and Primativo. Next we shared an order of gnocchi with Tuscan meat sauce, and then my husband had the eggplant and I had the swordfish. He switched to Chianti and I had the Vernaccia. We finished with tiramisu and espresso. Service was perfect.

      We spoke with Chef Kociaj and he confirmed that they have ended lunch in order for him to have more time to shop and prepare things for the dinner service.

      Whatever he needs to do to keep the place we love the way we love it is fine with us. We'll just have to convince our friends to dine early if we want to score a table for six.

      Some of the best times we have had with food and friends in the past year have been sharing the food here with friends at a table for six. It solves that problem of wanting your favorites and wanting to try something new.

      Right now I'm waiting for a cool evening to try the lamb shank on their fall menu.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BostonZest

        i always thank chowhound for introducing me to this place. other than the parking issue, it has been a consistent pleasure in quality, price, and service. low key, friendly and everything you hope a good neighborhood place will offer.

        1. re: teezeetoo

          You can take the #55 Bus from Copley Square or from Dalton Street right to the corner of Jersey and Queensbury. That give you lots of parking opportunities or you can take the orange or green lines to the bus.

          From the Back Bay, we walk if it is a nice day, if not we take the bus.

          It's also not a bad walk from the Kenmore or Fenway stations on the green line.

      2. We finally made it to Trattoria Toscana on Tuesday, and just loved it. We arrived at about 6:45, and the just a few tables were full. The room is really warm and inviting. We were very warmly greeted and quickly brought menus and very good saltless tuscan bread with olive oil and balsamic. After reading recent posts, I knew I had to try the porcini risotto, which was absolutely fabulous. The highlight of the evening. The depth of mushroom flavor is incredible. We also started with the rigatoni with sausage and mascarpone. Delicious, but I was having a hard time breaking away from the risotto. For mains, we had swordfish with capers and butter and a side of marinated grilled zucchini. Very good, but I was pretty full by that time. My husband had the sliced sirloin with creamy gorgonzola sauce, which was one of the best steaks he's had in ages. The potatoes that came with it were crunchy and creamy, and the side of spinach was huge and tasty. We finished with excellent expresso. Service was very good, and the vibe was really positive in general. It looked like people actually enjoyed what they were doing, from the front of the house to the kitchen. It was a wonderful time, and we'll be back soon.

        A note about parking: The garage on Queensberrythat McSlim mentions above is great, but a little confusing. We weren't even sure it was public parking because it is filled with taxis. There are a few spaces, and signs that say you need to pay the attendant at 60 Kilmarnock. I tturns out that the attendent is in the Deaconess garage, in the taxi station. You have to open the door around the side. The atttendant asked us how long we would be, and we said about 1 1/2 hours. Get this: $7! I'm guessing it fills up on weekends. Thanks for the tip, McSlim.

        1. Ristorante Toscano, at first I thought the thread was about this place at 47 Charles Street, also a great place!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mmocpi

            Any recent reports on Ristorante Toscano (Beacon Hill)? I'd heard they were making big changes to the menu. I know they had recast one half of the restaurant as a more casual, less costly space a few years back, but it's been a long time since I've been or spoken to anyone else who has. Trattoria Toscana's superior, far cheaper take on Tuscan food kind of gutted its appeal for me.

          2. My daughter was deserved of a celebration meal (pulling up her French grade *considerably*), and she wanted a memorable Italian meal. Recalling the excellent posts here, I suggested Trattoria Toscana, so off we all went. We arrived Sat. night before 6pm, and it was just full. Luckily the hostess suggested adding a third chair to a two-top and we quickly agreed. Plenty of room for us! I had a glass of the house chianti, which I agree is a great value for the quality. We started with the Caprese and the arugula salad. I was concerned because I forgot to ask them to bring the dressing on the side.....I like extremely small amounts of dressing. I was not disappointed, though...the rucola was outstanding...not bitter and perfectly dressed. My daughter downed her Caprese in no time...delicious. We continued with the gnocchi in gorgonzola and walnuts, and the ravioli with pesto. When I originally ordered, I asked if they could use the pesto from the Orecchiette on the ravioli, as it usually comes with a cream/tomato sauce and I'm trying to avoid cream. The waiter said the chef doesn't like to make substitutions, and suggested we simply get the Orecchiette. No go, it has pancetta and we're vegetarians. Could they make the Orchietti without the pancetta? He said he'd see what they could do...well, he brought the ravioli with the pesto. Both dishes were outstanding. The gnocchi were some of the best I've had....light and airy, not at all gummy. And that gorgonzola sauce!!!! Wow! The ravioli were equally perfect, and the pesto was great...the basil almost finely shredded so that you could taste little basil bits, instead of the usual puree. We finished with a cappuccino and the chocolate tartufo. This place will definitely be on our list for special nights!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Science Chick

              Good for you Science Chick. Glad it met and surpassed your expectations. Sometime on this board, the reviews are so over the top that they lead to some disappointments by first timers. This place is the real deal.

              We've loved this place since day one...actually I had lunch there the 3rd day after they opened. They were having AC problems but the food more than made up for any discomfort. Zamir and his wife are wonderful people and he's a talented, humble chef. We've never had a bad meal or experience there. It's bittersweet as word gets out, it will be tougher to get a table. They deserve all the accolades. Gran Gusto comes close but TT is still our favor for Italian cuisine.