Has anyone been to Grezzo yet??
I have a dinner reservation at Grezzo for Valentine's day and I'm wondering if anyone has been yet and, if so, have you got any recommendations or tips!!
I was there last night. It was FABULOUS!!! I had;
Candy beet ravioli for my appetizer- quite tasty, very unique
Red papaya and bitter endive salad- extreme opposite flavors that complemented each other well
Gnocchi carbonara- a stand out. Totally delicious- I had to restrain myself from liking the plate, the sauce was that good!
Since I couldn't decide between the 2 desserts, they gave me half and half,
The sinfully delicious cheesecake lived up to its name, while the Decadent deep dark chocolate fudge cake was very yummy.
They had wine and these creative specialty drinks- non alcoholic, however it was too cold outside for me to have one.
As I rolled out the door stuffed to the gills, I could only quote Arnold;
I'll be back!
What can I say about Grezzo....
If you are a raw food vegan, this place is clearly the pinnacle, the Olympus of your philosophy. Go here now.
If you are a cooked food vegan or vegetarian, I think you will find this place utterly fascinating, and may want to dine here regularly.
If you are an omnivore, such as myself, I have to say that it is worth a visit, if not purely out of curiosity, and it may even merit a return visit....
so to the chow....
Last night my gf and I arrived to a very busy restaurant - It is a nicely decorated place, pleasing earth tones, some highlights of color, but the room is very narrow (What was here before?) and so the tables are rather packed in and servers had some difficulty serving the patrons on one side of the wall - I made lemonade out of it and happily helped transport the plates over mine, but in the future, this should be remedied.
The first thing that struck me was the real quiet from the kitchen - utterly devoid of pops or sizzles - of course, the food is raw, so it is amazing how conditioned we are to those sounds in a restaurant. It was a little unnerving. There was some quiet Italian-themed music playing in the background. Seemed to get a little louder later in the evening...it helped with the ambience.
Our server, Nikki, was very friendly and enthusiastic. Ms. Cohen was tending the beverages - My gf started with a glass of biodynamic Cabernet and I tried a non-alcoholic cucumber "martini" - which had cucumber, kombucha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha) and other things I forget - it was delicious! Cool, very lightly fizzy, refreshing, like drinking a cucumber. ;) I later had a glass of red zin that was very nice.
For starters, we shared the beet ravioli - so let me be perfectly clear - we received three ravioli which were made of verrry thinly sliced and very pretty RAW beets, filled with a fig cardamom paste and sitting in a coconut curry cream. I think this was possibly the best item all night. You could almost cut through the beets with your fork - they had a pleasing crunch to them, and the filling and sauce was delicious - this dish could compete against so-called "regular" food anywhere. It was really very good.
Seeing what seemed to be the relatively small size of the portions, I added in the red papaya and endive salad along with the vanilla parsnip soup for the next round. The soup was of course served chilled - the texture was slightly fibery, but not unpleasantly so - the aroma of mushrooms and vanilla were a curious combination - the vanilla was almost too strong for my nose, started me thinking about soap, but I got over it.
The salad was sort of a failure for me - the ingredients were top notch but it really needed to be dressed in some way. I wouldn't order this again. It was just sort of boring.
For entrees, gf had the "land and sea" - a little joke as it had lobster mushooms, yellow oyster mushrooms and hedgehog mushroom lasagna - smooth riccota, dulse and aleria (these are two kinds of kelp/seaweed - I had to look it up...) Again, keep in mind that the "cheese" is not actually cheese from milk. This was honestly pretty good. The kelp was VERY chewy, almost like kelp jerky, but again, I sort of liked it?! The raw mushrooms were good, especially when mixed with the pesto that came on the side, which was outstanding.
I had the gnocchi carbonara - House-made dumplings, creamy rawmesan and fresh English peas with crispy eggplant and pea shoots, per the menu. I thought this was kinda sorta not great, in that the gnocchi were a paste that, if I am judging it in comparison to gnocchi, really bore no comparison. Once in the mouth, they smoosh down and you are left to contend with a smoosh of paste, instead of something firmer. Again, the flavors were actually quite good, but I could not fully enjoy because of the mouth feel. I think if they did not call it gnocchi, I would not have had such pre-formed expectations, and may have enjoyed it more. The sauce was excellent. The peas, being raw, had a welcome crunch.
Finally, we were severely tempted to beg off dessert to grab a cap and a cannoli, but in for a penny....So we got splits of the dessert. The chocolate cake had raw cacao, not carob, but was like putty. ok flavor, difficult to eat, meh. Was accompanied by two fruit sauces that were very light, not sweet, not bad. A garnish of shaved, dehydrated pineapple was interesting.
On the other hand, the "cheese"cake was really sort of outstanding - tasted like cheesecake, lightly sweet, "graham cracker" crust, but the lavendar/agave sauce really made it work. I had a hot water infusion of lemongrass to accompany - ok.
So a couple of thoughts:
I think you would want to confirm this, but I think if you have a nut allergy, you will be out of luck - although they do not use peanuts, which are not actually nuts...it seems that nuts make their way into lots of the concoctions.
The creativity to make raw food this delicious is off the charts. I did not really think I would enjoy my meal, and at least as a first time experience, I really did. Make no mistake - we were both FULL after our meal, although we supposed that our GI tracts were going WHOA WHOA WHOA, what are all these non-denatured proteins and stuff you are throwing at us?
There was a brochure about raw food on each table, and it remarked that people who eat raw food have the pounds just melt off. no doubt.
The thing that struck me about this cuisine was that the flavors, while all sharp and distinct, just seemed a bit off, did not blend quite right - I think this is due to my conditioning for how cooking foods combines flavors, melds them. Here, every dish other than the salad, had good flavors, but each flavor stood apart from everything else on the palette. Which is not to say it was not tasty, just different, not what I am used to.
Of course, the joke is, I just paid $20 for an entree at a restaurant for raw food. Yeah, there is that. But then, there is sushi too. I think this required much more effort and creativity.
At the end of the day, we were happy we went there. (GF scrounged up a snack at home of a couple tortilla chips, because she needed something cooked....I could totally sympathize.)
I think the website promises that the menu will change every couple of weeks, so I would go back again. I think for me, I want to see what they can do once the seasonal fruits and veggies start coming in. If they can make raw beets, parsnips and mushrooms taste good, I will be very intrigued once the bounty of spring and summer starts.
Can I honestly recommend that all my normally eating friends go here? Frankly, I think you have to be a bit of an adventurous eater to appreciate the food, but it is more of a mental thing. As a curiosity, as something outside the box, I would love it to succeed.
If you are a vegetarian, vegan or raw food acolyte, RUN don't walk to this place. It is the best vegan food I have ever had (although I am far from an expert or very experienced). With prior vegan food experiences, the food has been bland, icky, meh - or places like Grasshopper making things that are vegan that pretend to be/taste like meat. Grezzo has none of those shenanigans.
P.S. - this is probably one of the longest entries I have ever done here, so that may speak for itself. See what raw food dining can do!! lol
re: Bob Dobalina
Thanks for the review. I went there myself tonight, and they seem to have issues with timing still. My friend joked, "I don't understand why our dinner is taking so long if they're not even COOKING the food!" We actually tried VeeVee in JP last week, and when there was an extended delay in the food, the owner personally came out and apologized and gave us 4 free desserts! No apologies or explanations were offered tonight, but then again, I should expect it during opening week.
The gnocchi was definitely interesting and leaves a strong pine nut taste in your mouth after the meal. I second the pesto for the lasagna, as it goes very well with the "ricotta." Like you said, it's a cool and unique concept - very interesting and fun to try, but not exactly the place to fill up on a hearty meal for a cold winter day :P
I think half the Boston CH crew was at Grezzo last night, but I didn't suss anyone out. It was a good idea not to wear my leather jacket and deerskin gloves. Here's my report.
I found myself wondering all night "where do I set the bar?" Am I comparing Grezzo to Blue Shirt Cafe, which likes earthy-crunchy food? To Craigie Street Bistrot, which takes its mission equally seriously? To Clio, which aspires to "best-in-class?" Based on the marketing, they clearly ask for comparisons with serious restaurants. Roger Ebert tries to gauge a movie against its' own potential, allowing "Harry Potter and the Sorcerers' Stone" the same four stars as "Moolaadé." My trouble is: since I'm completely inexperienced with Raw Food The Movement, I dunno whether Cohen's food reaches its' potential. But it's very tasty and it's fascinating to experience. I enjoyed it and will go back with foodie friends.
My friend was a much better orderer than I, and hit home runs for each course. Highlights included the vine-ripened tomato soup, which used pepper very well and shocked us both with strong tomato flavor (easily the night's standout for me). Where, we asked, do you get tomatoes like that at this time of year? "Russo's," Nikki said. I kid you not. Somebody must stand there in Russo's picking through each tomato individually. My friend also ordered the filled Anaheim peppers, which stood out for the excellent "mole" sauce. The guac and mango were delicious. And when it came time for dessert, we were pleasantly shocked by the coconutty chocolate, non-date-y goodness of the fudge cake, though my enjoyment went downhill quickly and hard. Half the portion would have been better. And while I'm not a cheesecake eater, the cheesecake was really quite pleasant. The accompanying lavender-agave sauce was scintillating- sassy and brilliant.
When Cohen invites us to compare by naming her food after something mainstream, it's a calculated risk. She usually passed (cheesecake, yes! creamy rawmesan, yes!, mole, yes!) but occasionally fell short (nacho cheese, no. gnocchi, good but no.)
Bob's report mirrors my experience in several ways: the sweetly unprofessional passing of plates; the curious, pleasant lack of kitchen-y sounds ("they must keep their Vita-Mixes in the back alley," my friend said), and Nikki's enthusiasm. The place was so full that the back of my chair was pressed against another person's chair the whole night, so be prepared for serious "airline recliner seat" effect (this could've ruined the evening if I had been in a crankier mood). Cohen herself stopped by our table to ask after us, but moved to the next table before we even answered, a move she can't afford to repeat very often. I wished for some equivalent of the breadbasket on the table to nosh on. Though I was full by the end, and frankly in a little discomfort during the night.
They do have "a Cabernet" and "a Chardonnay" but didn't tell us what vineyard. They've only been open four days, so no big deal, but if the waitstaff don't have this information locked by next week, it'll be a problem. We had two glasses each of the cab, which hit like a ton of bricks.
Overall: there's one outstanding moment on every plate. They have some odd professional problems to work out. It's very crowded. And yes, they can compete with cooked food in Boston.
Hey, I was there last night too! Overall, I found the food to be fun, playful and inventive. There were surely a few duds, but it was exciting to try something no one else in Boston is attempting.
beet ravioli - sweet, creamy, nutty, spicy, crunchy
gnocchi - nutty and earthy with a nice hit of pinenut; surprising crunch of fresh peas; complex and creamy sauce
stuffed Anaheim peppers with avocado and mango salad sprinkled with poppyseeds - fabulous texture to the dehydrated nut mixture in the peppers, and the salad played between creamy, crunchy and sweet
onion flatbread - too oily; sprouted quinoa was pellet-like and sour
spanish rice on the pepper plate - was this a scallion salad? Couldn't taste anything else.
chocolate fudge cake - could have built a house with the bricks
Cheesecake was unobtrusive, if grainy; lavender sauce was lovely.
Service was sweet, but amateurish. 20 minutes after being seating, we were finally able to order. We watched tables receive small complimentary plates of olives to munch on, but were never offered any. At least the wine was flowin'.
Floor plan calls to mind an overflowing waiting room at a bordello. Too-big-for-the-space faux velvet red chairs had to be turned into the "aisle" to fit everyone at the tables. Saying that I felt cramped is an understatement.
I'm more interested to return once Cohen starts using in season fruits and vegetables. The flavor in many of the dishes suffered from the overuse of summer produce that was clearly flown in from Chile. How good can a strawberry in February really be? Cohen answers by slicing and placing them in sangria. It's a start
As DC, I only have a couple things to add to Gini's thorough post.
I actually enjoyed the flatbread. It had an interesting texture and taste, though it was on the oily side.
The summer produce was also noticeable on the drinks menu which was limited to a mojito, cucumber martini and sangria (the only alcoholic drink other than the wine). I was a little disappointed to see three summer drinks in the middle of February, but I’m glad that I went for the sangria. At least we had the fruit to munch on while waiting for our waitress.
By the end of the night the combination of the creamy sauce and some potent chardonnay had me feeling less than great, but I'd like to return once Grezzo finds its feet.
I stopped in and spoke with Grezzo’s owner, Alissa, about the menu. Some of last week’s dishes seemed nut heavy and rich, but Alissa told me that lighter fare, but bigger portions, will be available, along with bigger green salads. She’s also eliminating kombucha since it doesn’t work well with some of the dishes on the menu. I lucked out and got to try a new dish coming for next week – a spinach and cheese ravioli and it was delicious! I’m amazed at how they create this food! I asked her where her produce comes from, and she said she gets much of her food from specialty distributors and growers who have their own greenhouses. I’m looking forward to coming back and trying the new menu items! I told Alissa that when I return I wanted the front seat by the window since there’s more space there. But I guess they’ve removed a couple tables, so there is more space now, anyway. Grezzo serves wonderful food and I can’t wait to try it again!
Terrific reviews! I am going in the beginning of March with a group - I can't wait.
I'm not vegan, nor even vegetarian (at this point), although I am getting pretty close, and I actually ate almost all raw a bit over a year ago - never felt better in my life. Since I've had some potentially serious health issues lately, I'm leaning towards this way of eating.
Alissa Cohen is so cool - can't wait to go (and I'm hoping to be able to meet her, too). Of course, I will definitely post a review after I try it!
First let me start by saying I've been vegetarian 30+ years, vegan for more than 17 years, and RawVegan for over 10 years. So I was very excited to learn a new RawVegan restaurant was opening up in my home town. When I ate a Grezzo, I was less than impressed. The ideas sounded better than the outcome. It didn't taste fresh, and I left with a stomach ache. Something that doesn't usually happen to me. What a major disappointment. I really had high hopes for this restaurant, but I won't be going back here, or recommending it. I thought the waitstaff was pleasant, but that was the best part of my experience. The food definitely left something to be desired.
Your first post saladhead - General comments positive or negative aren't really helpful - please feed us more information - What didn't taste fresh? What did you order and why didn't you like it? Thanks.
Since that was my first raw vegan dining out experience (you know, except for salads), please elaborate on yours.
It's a hit! Yes, there are real problems with the wait staff, (I doubt they are trained, but probably share a passion for raw food) and timing problems with the kitchen. This is par for the course in any new restaurant, especially one run by someone who has no formal restaurant experience. I have worked every aspect of a restaurant myself, and it is a daunting task for a newbie. I am considering offering Cohen my services to help get her wait staff up to speed as I really want to see this place establish itself permanently in the Boston restaurant scene.
I went there last week on a Wednesday, and the tiny place was packed. I had a coconut juice that rivaled Bonobo's in Flatiron. Perfectly cool with a touch of viscousity that gave it a good mouth-feel, and a sweet nuttiness that satisfied my gnawing hunger pains. The little amuse-bouche for the table, some marinated green olives in cold-pressed olive oil, also took the edge off my growling stomach. It was a good thing as our appetizers took 45 minutes to arrive from the moment we sat down at the table, and we had a reservation. My caprese salad was exquisite. The tomatoes were bursting with summer-fresh flavor, the oils used were also fresh, ripe and not overpowering, but simply added a constant back-ground note of richness to the dish, and helped marry the flavors of the fruit with the "cheese", which, I am happy to say, was not in over abundance. I've noticed that some vegan places really go nut heavy in order to satisfy the traditional palate, and this just wasn't the case here. I had just enough to add texture and roundness to each delicious bite. It was as good as the many dishes I've sampled at Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy, and much better than anything I've had at Real Food Daily in Beverly Hills. My lasagna was similarly bursting with ripe, summer flavors, a rare feat in the depths of winter in New England. Vegan food is so often a hopeless mish-mash of flavors and textures, I was delighted to see that the chefs here are obviously trained in gourmet raw food preperation. The flavors are distinctive, the layers of the lasagna were carefully married and well-balanced, and kept their brightness and flavor from beginning to end. I know a dish was successful when I can sit and recall it a week after having it. My mouth is already watering! I used to have to wait for trips to NYC to enjoy great raw food dining, but Grezzo's has definitely made the cut. I also had the cheesecake. It was good but not amazing. I didn't really appreciate the texture of it, and the crust was a little too heavy, but it is worth trying. My friend absolutely loved it, so it is more a matter of taste, I think. If there was one complaint about the food, (other than the wait time) it would be an overuse of onion. As raw onion is so strong, the chef could definitely be more sparing in his/her use of it in the dishes.
Hope you get a chance to try it out!
Hi all, first-time poster, long-time reader, but my experience at Grezzo last week has motivated me to comment. I am a very adventurous omnivore, and I approached Grezzo with eager anticipation and an open mind, but our experience was so bad on so many fronts that I feel I have to share. First and most importantly, the food: I found the flavor profiles and textures peculiar or unpleasant almost across the board, from the overwhelming application of wasabi that masked all other flavor in the seaweed salad, to the bogglingly dense and bland "sliders" preparation paired with cloyingly sweet dehydrated potatoes, to the under-ripe and woody-centered tomatoes forming the shell of the tomato ravioli entree. I also sampled the gnocchi, which while pleasantly flavorful, disintegrated into a nutty paste on the tongue, and the vegetable lasagna, which was a sloppy pile of chewy, dehydrated vegetables swimming in a watery tomato sauce. The two pleasant surprises of the night were the corn soup, which was creamy, sweet, and subtle, and the cultured nut cheese that comprised the filling of the tomato ravioli, a worthy dairy cheese substitute. On to the service, which was amateurish at best: Water didn't show up on our table for 15 minutes, and our wine order took another 15. That's right... it took 1/2hr for wine to make it to our table; and they only have two wine options so I know it wasn't because they were digging for a bottle in the cellar. A different waitress seemed to appear at almost every interaction, and there was a clear lack of communication between them; two of our apps didn't make it to the table (but still made it to the bill), and the pacing of courses was completely out of sync, with some of our apps being brought out as others' entrees were delivered. The end-to-end experience took 3:15, which is especially surprising given that the food isn't, you know, cooked. Now onto the space, which is comically over-furnished to the point that when the four of us were seated, we were pressed tight into the table and still touching the chairs of the diners behind us, and which required the waitresses to lean over the poor girl at the next table to talk with and serve us. But most outrageous was the sheer cost of this experience: $310 for four diners, including wine. Yup, $370 all-in! Let's be honest about the value equation here: No matter how lovingly prepared, and how hand-picked and high-quality the vegetables are claimed to be, when you get down to brass tacks, you're looking primarily at creatively prepared salads (e.g. the $22 tomato ravioli entree, which is simply eight mandolined slices of tomato with a dollop of nut cheese between each pair, a little watercress, and a drizzle of truffle oil). I'm sorry, but given the numerous strikes against the overall experience, I have to very strongly recommend you stay away from Grezzo.
Thanks for the opinion and lengthy review. Here's to hoping you will continue to post.
Couple of follow-ups: How did you get to over $300 - even with the wine, that seems rather high, given their price structure. (Unless you were really downing the wine...)
Also the menu suggests that the tomato ravioli entree is $21 and includes actual truffle, not truffle oil. Did you not receive actual truffle? That would be disappointing.
That's really unfortunate about the service - I went the first week when I expected it would be a little crazy - bothersome to hear that they haven't polished that up yet.
re: Bob Dobalina
Thanks Bob. So on the overall price thing... yeah the wine definitely contributed since it's $12/glass. I believe we had 8 or 9 glasses total for the table (2 each plus an extra for one guy) so that's $100 right there. Perhaps they could consider a more affordable wine until they can serve bottles, since $12 is towards the upper end of the spectrum for by-the-glass wine? There are many reasonably priced organic and biodynamic wines available. But the food still seemed steep for what it was, especially since not everybody had an app, and nobody had dessert. And yes, the tomato ravioli was indeed truffle oiled only, as confirmed by the waitress.
Wow. Your report and mine (above) have very different tones & conclusions, yet I find myself really identifying with your experience. The seats are jammed together like stacked patio chairs; the service remains enthusiastic but unprofessional; the kitchen seems spotty in execution. I'm also not surprised that the flavors are so dependent on shopping for good produce. I especially appreciate that you back up your disappointment with lots of supporting context. Nice report.
Anybody care to compare and contrast the food at Grezzo to Organic Garden in Beverly or Life Alive in Lowell? Considering taking my husband here for his birthday but after the mixed reviews, not sure...