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Jun 3, 2008 12:31 PM

Ecco in Eastie -- anyone have an update?

It seems that the site for 'Ecco' in Eastie has been under construction for months now. I hear its being opened by the same folks who run Santarpio's. Does anyone know when they're planning to open, and what kind of place it will be? Thanks in advance for any intel!

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    1. re: fredid

      Thanks fredid, have you been? what's the word? i'm hoping for a new destination here in eastie.

      1. re: fredid

        This is the new venue from the original chef at Oxford Street Grille, whose food I liked a lot, so I'm anxious to check Ecco out.

        1. re: fredid

          Website says opening this Saturday, Sept. 20, 4pm - 12.

          And something's wrong with their menu - all the food sounds great but the entree prices are all ~$10 less than they should be. Someone better tell them.

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Is this definitely a new Santarpio's project?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Maybe the base costs in Eastie are cheap enough; they'll need some kind of draw if they want to reach beyond the neighborhood. I watched Marliave's cafe prices go up a few bucks an entree in a single week. I think a lot of menus start low and then they look at a couple of weeks worth of margins and go "Yikes!". Pops did a good job of holding its entree prices to $20 and under for a while, but even they let a few creep up after a while, especially once oil drove food prices up; I think the current menu tops out around $25.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Funny you should mention that. I did tell them when I saw a prototype menu. Too many chefs try to serve fine dining foods at discount rates (they like working with the raw materials no matter the venue), and that's a formula for failure, unless you can sell a ton of martinis to make up for it.

            2. went to a soft opening wednesday night. prices are on the low end, but please realize this isn't downtown or the south end. rent is much cheaper and from the look of the menu, the chef is being price-conscious, not foolish.

              many years ago, the place was home to sablone's a legendary italian restaurant, but it has been empty and dilapidated for many years. renovation, for whatever reasons, took a very long time as well. it's instantly accessible from the tunnel, for those of you who don't know eastie very well, and an easy walk from either maverick or airport on the t..

              the space is cut in the middle by a long row of banquettes, large bar and lounge on one side, dining on the other. there are tv's everywhere you look. my b/f, a krazee red sox fan, while happy to be able watch the game, commented there were way too many, and it detracted from the vibe. lighting was intimate, but not overly dark. sound system was tinny sounding, with snaps and crackles through the speakers, and frankly, johnny matthis ain't my idea of dinner music.

              we arrived at 8:00, bar was full, dining room beginning to fill out. woman who took my reservation on monday, remembered me and my name and seated us immediately, even though we were an hour early. we sat facing the bar, at a small table. took awhile for the server to arrive, but i never expect anything great on these sorts of nights. she couldn't list the beers, and sadly, neither could the bartender so my b/f decided to join me in a bottle of wine. there are no beers on tap. wine mark-ups were within reasonable bounds, although the wine list had several typos and too many varietals from just a few producers. they have a 2-page froo-froo drink list. i ordered a bottle of the four vines zinfandel for $30.

              we decided to just order some apps, since they're describing themselves as an "italian tapas bar." whatever that means.

              went for short ribs shumai, wild mushroom chowder and tuna tartare. the server did not have a pen, and swore she'd remember what we wanted. she returned 4 or 5 minutes later sheepishly admitting she had no clue.

              bread came in a cigar box-like presentation. good soft slices, but with mediocre quality unsalted butter.

              food came out quickly, all with nice visual appeal. the mushroom chowder had at least 3 different kinds, and plenty of them. a pleasantly light cream broth, redolent with roasted garlic and fresh thyme. the shumai was my favorite. 2 dumplings packed with tender shreds of beef and great flavors. the tartare is not something i would have ordered (b/f) since it's ubiquitous, and i'm sick of seeing it. it was a very fine dice of ahi tuna, mixed with sriracha aioli -- like spicy tuna maki without the nori. the seaweed salad that came with it was limp and bland, and the olive salad on the plate was a curious addition.

              although service was bumpy, they all were friendly and hopefully management will smooth out their rough edges over the coming days. food was pretty well-executed for a soft opening and our dining neighbors enjoyed their plates too.

              with the demise of caffe italia, this place is a great addition to the neighborhood since there is no place to have a drink or a glass of wine and something nice to eat. i have tried very hard to like 303 cafe, but i just can't. they try hard, but still can't seem to get it. i will be very happy to make ecco my neighborhood hang, and that a trip through the tunnel is no longer needed to enjoy something that isn't from south of the border, served under fluorescent lights.

              i think the santarpio's have done a good thing here.

              6 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Thanks, hotoy, for the detailed summary - I was also there on Wednesday, but given that I'm a "latino food under flourescent lights" kind of gal (although my DC is not) and I wasn't enchanted with the food, I didn't want to be the first to review. We began with crabmeat stuffed cherry peppers and fried calamari - The crabmeat was bland, but the huge plate of calamari were (was? I wasn't eating the plate! and don't know Italian plurals - even food related!) delicious. My veal milanese, again, was much too bland, and his Chilean sea bass, again, unfortunately, was also flavorless....Perhaps, we just had bad luck...I wish them well! I'm all for more great eating in Eastie...

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  D'Parma, right across from the Maverick T station, is a nice place to have a drink, glass of wine, and something nice to eat. Their eggplant app was excellent.

                  1. re: smooncakes

                    based on another rec from this board, i tried to *try* d'parma. on a friday night at 7:30, there was nobody at the bar and one couple at a table. i was greeted with, "are you here to pick-up?" meaning take-out food. the bar did not have campari, which is inconceivable to me in an italian restaurant. the menu of chick parm and ziti with broccoli and chicken made me just have a vodka and tonic and go home.

                    i'm wicked psyched for ecco. :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Gotta agree with you on D'Parma. I did enjoy a risotto I had there, as well as a not-bad veal marsala. But their wine list is terrible, their prices are way too high for what it is, and my wife disliked both of the meals she's eaten there.

                      I'm equally unimpressed with 303 Cafe. Great ideas but poor execution. So I'm excited about Ecco, maybe not the hipster scene of it, but the food sounds good.

                        1. re: treb

                          The D'Parma in Winthrop is BYOB, we're talking about the newish one in East Boston which is not. They have a full bar (minus campari) and short, lousy wine list.

                          I haven't been to the Winthrop D'Parma, maybe it's better than East Boston? Different menu?

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Had a terrific first experience here. Great looking room, and not just because Sablone's clown paintings are mercifully exorcised (and hopefully burned). Solid bartending (full liquor). An eclectic, mainly New American bistro menu, with generous portions at very nice prices.

                    Some highlights: the Oxford Street Grill short rib shumai, hooray! I just loved that dish when this chef was working in downtown Lynn, not the least for its amazing broth. I was so sorry that OSG didn't find a wider audience or better management, but one of its little stunners lives on here. Terrific fried calamari, mac and cheese with lobster, barely-seared tuna, grilled frisee salad with a poached egg on top, swoony chowder of wild mushrooms, topped with a little ziggurat of mashed potatoes (musta been a cup of cream in that bowl.)

                    Tab came to maybe $40/head with tax and tip and a big cocktail apiece, and we overordered by at least one shared app; nobody finished their entrees, and not because we didn't love them. Most entrees in high teens; apps, soups. and salads in high single digits, all hefty. Lovely scoop of gelatto-like, house-made honey/lavender ice cream to finish. Sweet, professional, attentive service. Free parking out back. About a ten minute walk from Maverick, probably the same from Airport. Based on this very promising first experience, I'd encourage Hounds to check it out.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      I'm glad people are enjoying it - I must have just had an off night there! BTW, driving/parking directions on their website.

                    2. I've been waiting for something like this in the neighborhood for a while. I've been really impressed with the food there. I definitely agree with some of the complaints on this reply. I wish they had some draft beer. I'm sick of the tapas concept. The decor's a little bit much. I hate martini menus that call anything put in a stemmed glass a martini. However, the quality to price ratio more than makes up for that.
                      The TVs are a bit curious...I'm hoping that they turn them off when there isn't a game on. I can see why they'd want people to drop in to sit at the bar to watch a few innings of a sox game, but I hate when places leave the TVs on (and the volume up) when some crappy sitcom is on.
                      The short rib shumai are awesome. I really liked the cheese particular the combo of sharp cheddar, sliced granny smiths and acacia honey is delicious. I was really looking forward to the house brined and smoked bacon, but didn't really like it that much. It was kindof like a broiled bacon filet, sliced horizontally so that there's a crispy edge on the top of each slice. The problem was that it was cooked 'medium', so the fat didn't reallly render. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the dish is a work in progress. I had the veal, which I thought was delicious. Hotoy mentioned that it was bland, and I guess the actual cutlet was, but the white truffle sauce was delicious...and just smelled fantastic. My wife had tuna au poivre, which really good. The waitress made sure to point out that it was 'seared', and if that was OK...a reminder that you're in eastie, where many aren't so sure about the idea of rare fish.
                      The wait staff was very pleasant, but a little shaky. We were a party of about 14, and we drink a lot, so that's to be expected. Actually, it's pretty impressive that they kept their composure when bringing out 6 or 8 martinis at a time that all look the same. ("I ordered a very dry hendricks martini...this isn't that dry")
                      Incidentally, they make a really good muddled cucumber gimlet (not the cucumber cosmo on their online menu).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gremster

                        Good point on the "rare" fish - When we were there, the waitress was sort of embarassed to ask how we wanted the salmon cooked. She shrugged at the chef's insistence that some folks might not want it cooked all the way through. We left it up to the chef and it was cooked perfectly to just done.

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          My husband and I are very pleased with Ecco. We love dining out and have no problems dropping a pretty penny for an exceptional dining experience. We arrived 30 minutes prior to our reservation to imbibe in some cocktails at the bar. I indulged in the espresso martini which was not too creamy. The only thing is that they didn't fill the martini glass to the top. My husband tried the chef's infused bourbon. He loved it and we joked that he'd never be home because he'd constantly be at Ecco drinking this bourbon.

                          We sat at a small table for two in the dining room. The dining room decor is good. The benches were a bit too high for the tables though. The wine list is decent and the prices were very fair. We ordered a bottle of Broquel Malbec for $36. We started with the steamed mussels and they were very tasty and huge although I wish the mussels were served with some grilled toast points to soak up the delicious broth.

                          The bread was served in a cigar box which is a different concept but the box itself was too big for the table so I needed to put it on the shelf behind me while we ate our mussels.

                          My husband ordered the chilean sea bass which was cooked perfectly. The advocado served with the fish is an excellent touch. I had the hangar steak and it was cooked to perfection as I like my beef a little well done. The mashed potatoes the steak came with were very tasty too. I do wish the plate had some more color to it so adding a green like an asparagus or wilted spinach would be a recommendation. We moved on to the homemade icecream .for dessert which was the cinnamon walnut. It was amazing, fresh and creamy!

                          Overall, we're very excited about this new restaurant in Eastie. The prices are just right and we hope they stay that way. As a resident of East Boston it's so nice to be able to walk to this establishment and enjoy a fine dining experience. We will definitely go back and perhaps even take advantage of the huge bar with the big TV's to watch some football over the long winter ahead of us!