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Dinner at Scampo- Report

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emilief Apr 4, 2008 10:09 AM

Had dinner at Scampo last night.Wonderful! According to the hostess, last night was the first night of full operation. Wednesday night was reservations only.
The restaurant is on the main floor of the hotel with a separate entrance immediately to the left of the front door to the Hotel. There are three steps down, but for those needing access, there is an elevator immediately as you enter which will bring you to the lobby so you can enter without stairs. Valet parking is validated in the retaurant- 3 hours for $10.
The room is very nice. As you enter there is a seating area whichoddly has a very long table and a couple of small tables. On the right is a U-shaped bar which seats about 15 people. On the other side of the bar is the dining area. Off white leather seats, pleasant sort of modern Italian decor. In the middle of the restaurant opposite the bar is an open kitchen. This kitchen is obviously not making all the food- there were about 6 people with chef's hats filling bread, pizza and salad/ appetizer orders.
The menu lists about five different bread items for $5-7 each. So, you assume they do not serve bread. However, after we placed our bread order, we were served complimentary crispy bread sticks with a fava bean puree with pignoli- delicious. The bread choices were garlic, focaccio, naan, another which was described as a pizza dough with a filling and a roti with or without chicken curry. We had the garlic bread which was excellent- charred on the grill, a little oily and flavorful with slices of garlic. A generous portion enough for 2.
The menu lists a few pizzas, spaghetti in several preparations, and house made mozzarella prepared about five ways. About 6 appetizer, a list of housemade pasta dishes, about 6 entrees, a sirloin -6 or 12 oz. and a wagyu sirloin -market price; a $50 lobster dish and dover sole for 2 @ $85.
I had the burrata on a crisp bread with cherry tomatoes and micro greens. Very delicious. A burrata BLT was also an option. DC had fried artichokes with hummous. Artichokes were somewhat overpowered by cheese and the hummous was ok.
For entrees, DC had a handmade pasta with zucchini and cockles which he said was incredibly delicious {he almost picked up the bowl to drink the remainder of the broth]. I had a cod with crab and cockles which was really outstanding.
We shared a dessert of fresh strawberries with zabaglione. Very rich and the strawberries were very good.
Service was amazing. Very attentive but not overbearing. The weird thing was the amount of people working. There were 6 people wearing chef's hats at the bread/ ppizza kitchen. There were at least 10 bus boys/ back waiters wearing striped prison t-shirts. Plus about 5 waiters. A couple of waiters were amusing- soooo Italian, big tall heavy men with heavy Italian accents. DC was wondering if their ad for bartenders said something like " female bartenders with breast enhancements willing to wear low cut sweaters wanted."
He kept saying he needed to go sit at the bar.
Lydia Shire was there and came around to speak to everyone. She was very nice and friendly and clearly pleased with her new place. [she also confirmed for me that Susan Regis is still at her new restaurant in York Me- "Blue Sky"]. The general manager as well as the hostess [who was a bartender at Locke-Ober for 6 years] also came around to all of the tables to chat.
The total bill for one martini, 3 glasses of wine, bread, two appetizers, two entrees, one dessert and 1 double espresso was $140 (before tip). Quite reasonable for excellent food and great service.
BTW- we walked in without a reservation at about 5:45 and it was never completely full.

  1. MC Slim JB Apr 4, 2008 10:34 AM

    Great review! Some things you describe remind me a little of Pignoli. I'm glad to hear Regis has landed back with Lydia.

    1. Gio Apr 4, 2008 10:59 AM

      Loved reading your review! And, thank you for the access info. Very nice.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio
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        emilief Apr 4, 2008 11:19 AM

        Put it there for you!

        1. re: emilief
          Gio Apr 4, 2008 12:33 PM

          That's very kind of you emilief!! I really appreciate it. Thank you.

      2. Joanie Apr 4, 2008 11:22 AM

        I wish I could remember the name of the bartender at Locke Ober who I think may be the hostess you refer to. She used to bartend at Vox P. then was at LO for a while. Short hair, glasses, a few extra pounds, really cool and nice. Sound familiar?

        $140 sounds like much more of a bargain than I was expecting.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Joanie
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          emilief Apr 4, 2008 11:39 AM

          Glasses but not real short hair, but very curly hair, brown with sort of gold streaks. Very nice. The Cod with crab and cockles was $24, I think the pasta dish was about $18.Wine, $11 per glass.Appetizers around $10-12.

          1. re: emilief
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            Wursthof Apr 4, 2008 11:42 AM

            Is that Cara? Probably one of the best Negroni makers in the city.

            1. re: Wursthof
              MC Slim JB Apr 4, 2008 11:46 AM

              Did she formerly hold court at the old Restaurant Zinc? I've been trying to track her down for years, a very fine bartender. A stint at Vox would explain why I lost track of her (terrible place), but I get into L-O a few times a year, and had never seen her there.

              1. re: Wursthof
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                Falcon 64 Apr 4, 2008 01:42 PM

                Yes, it is Carah from Locke Ober. She's the new AGM @ Scampo.

            2. re: Joanie
              Small Plates Apr 4, 2008 12:55 PM

              Cara McLaughlin

              1. re: bearisland
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                bearisland Apr 5, 2008 09:02 AM

                And for ther record-----> Mario Capone is the Chef along with Lydia @ Scampo-----> Susan Regis is in Maine @ Blue Sky....

                1. re: bearisland
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                  harleyj Apr 5, 2008 12:48 PM

                  Do you know who the GM is?

                  1. re: harleyj
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                    Falcon 64 Apr 5, 2008 01:05 PM

                    Eric Buxton

                    1. re: Falcon 64
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                      harleyj Apr 5, 2008 01:12 PM

                      Thanks.

                    2. re: harleyj
                      almansa Apr 5, 2008 01:05 PM

                      Eric Buxton, ex Davio's, etc.

                      1. re: almansa
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                        bearisland Apr 7, 2008 03:54 AM

                        yes that Eric Buxton

                  2. re: bearisland
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                    9lives Apr 5, 2008 09:40 AM

                    I've been a fan of Cara for years..great bartender..wonderful person.

                    I think some of you are making too big a deal about the "few extra pounds" comment. I'm sure Joanie meant no insult.

                    BTW, I have a few extra pounds too..occupational hazard of being a devoted CH..:)

                    On topic, I have friends that went to a family and friends dinner and were very impresssed with Scampo. I've also been a fan of Lydia Shire's from the Biba days and looking forward to going. They mentioned the lobster pizza is on the menu and that was always a hit.

                2. capeanne Apr 7, 2008 07:51 PM

                  Emilief thank you. We had a wonderful evening and meal. Lydia came over almost immediately to advise that the room was not yet " done". Banquettes on order but we found the room to be warm and inviting. The menu on first pass is dizzying. Couldn't make choices as so many things we wanted to try again ( memories of Pignole) We shared the lobster pizza ( $24 and worth it ) and mozzarella with aubergine. Just really really fine. DH had the pork chop which was crusty and juicy and huge. I did the brick chicken which seemed to me almost to be terrific fried chicken with house made potato chips. We shared the caramel brulee for dessert and anticipated our return . I think Boston is on a food roll right now with Hungry Mother, Benatti, Scampo and so many tried and trues like Rendezvous, Green Street, Pigalle and Salts. !!!! Good for us .

                  1. k
                    Kodiak604 Apr 14, 2008 10:18 AM

                    do they have a website up yet?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kodiak604
                      capeanne Apr 14, 2008 11:59 AM

                      Not yet and Opentable will start online reservations tomorrow

                    2. j
                      jajjguy Apr 20, 2008 09:00 AM

                      Went last night, had a great time.
                      They were quite full, and haven't quite worked out table management, we were seated about 30 minutes after our reservation time - assuming they'll work this out. Dining room was rather loud, but not off the scale. The music was of questionable taste, but not intrusive.
                      Our waiter was charming and extremely knowledgeable. A big man with an italian accent and a high voice. This guy's a gem.
                      Apps: burrato with anchovies and tomato on toast, fried artichoke with humus, prosciutto with mozzarella. All just fantastic. Great use of infused oils and other flavor accents put it over the top. Waiter explained (we asked) the process of making burrato, a cheese related to mozzarella with a light flavor and a strange gooey consistency.
                      Mains: hazelnut risotto with crispy fried sweetbreads; squid prepared 2 ways (crispy fried and grilled) on gnocchi; semi-deboned quail with a sweet-savory glaze, semolina & parmesan gnocchi, and sabayon with golden raisins. The composition of every one of these dishes was beautiful, great flavors and presentation. However, there were some curious weaknesses with with main protein elements. The sweetbreads, though tasty, were overwhelmed by the crispy fried preparation that made them more like a yummy bar food than the rich subtle bit they probably could have been. The squid was good when grilled, but the crispy fried version suffered the same way as the sweetbreads did. The quail was strangely flavorless, especially the legs, which was very surprising, though the texture was perfect.
                      Desserts: a perfect tiramisu, strawberries in zabaglione, creme brulee. All really good.
                      A great meal start to finish, I'll definitely go back, though next time i may prefer to focus on the housemade pastas rather than the meat plates, which offered the only disappointing features of the meal.
                      Good wine offerings too. With the appetizers we each had a glass of Bennett Family 2005 Chardonnay, which is a nice, balanced, not overly-oaked chard that went well with appetizers. With the mains we had a Bitozet-Prieur 2004 Volnay, which paired very well with all the dishes.
                      With dessert we had a Ramos Pinto LBV 2000, a Jocopo Poli Moscato grappa, and a glass of strega. I confess that I had no idea that Galliano was an American reproduction of strega, a saffron liqueur. It was a treat to try the real thing, along with an espresso.
                      An almost irrelevant side note: the whole Liberty Hotel was a crazy dress-up scene, with people lined up at the velvet rope outside, showing their bling inside, overwhelming the restrooms, very much an upscale nightclub environment.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jajjguy
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                        emilief Apr 20, 2008 12:18 PM

                        Had dinner at Scampo again last night. Unlike JJG party, we were seated exactly on time for our reservation. Began with yummy cocktail- the "Pop Tart" made with cachasa, framboise, muddled strawberries and lime. Excellent. WE ordered two breads- the Naan and the garlic bread. Two minutes later a basket of garlic bread and a plate of foccacia with grapes was brought to the table. We told them the foccacia was a mistake- hostess came over and said we could have it anyway- it was quite delicious with the syrupy grape juices soaking into the bread. The naan was brought- which was extremely delicious. They have a tandoor oven- the Naan was very authentic, very hot and very delicious. Garlic bread with a little char was also great. Appetizers were the delicious burrata with anchovies on a crispy bread with tomatoes, a creamy delicious cauliflower soup with a square of green garlic flan floating in it, a very nicely prepared seared scallop appetizer and a homemade mozzarella with grilled egglplant. Unlike the boring fresh mozzarella we often find, this was delicious as if made with buffallo milk.
                        For entrees I had the 7 oz sirloin which comes sliced (I was told this when I ordered it) and very rare, with pureed sweet potatoes and polenta fries. Others had the cod medalllions with crab and cockles and the lobster ravioili which were declared as delicious. One DC had the spaghetti scampo with shrimp = said it was "ordinary." Service was excellent. Although our waitress ws obviously inexperienced, the hostess kept a close watch on our table and gave the waitress an extra hand throughout our dinner. The only downside - although our dinner proceeded at a perfect pace, the desserts were still not served long after we finished our coffee. The hostess came over and said she heard we had been waiting a long time for the desserts and she comped them. One was a frozen orange and vanilla semifreddo with baklava on top; another caramel custard and another chocolate tart. All very nice, especially since we were not charged for them. And, wow , yes, what a scene. People lined up out the door to get into the hotel. This place is really hot and scampo is ver popular already- for good reason!

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