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Jul 23, 2009 06:20 PM

Erbaluce: love at first bite

Pretty close to a perfect dining experience tonight at Erbaluce. This is the first time since we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Italy that our celiac friend got fabulous gluten-free pasta, was properly served the wonderful bean dip separate from ours and with gluten-free crackers, and could eat everything pretty much on the menu, with the exception of a few deserts. Second, the service was perfect: attentive, warm, and welcoming and without a blip. Third, our four eaters enjoyed every course and we could do this because the restaurant easily plated our shared appetizer and pasta, leaving us almost enough room for our main dish. Alas, we ran out of steam and only tried one desert among the three of us (it had wheat so the fourth member of our eating team passed). We all loved the simple and perfectly seasoned tomato and zucchini salad, shared the spaghetti chitarra with a pesto as good as I've had in Nice or anywhere else. Mains were rabbit and boar, both winners, with the rabbit among the juiciest presentations we've had and the board served with wonderful rappini. The single, but spectacular desert, was a caramelized orange and chocolate tart that was intense and specific in flavors we loved,. Finally, as a measure of the generosity of the house and the service, we were brought a lovely bit of blue fish with a homemade herbed mayonnaise before our starters, and, for our wheat-free friend. at the end of the meal, chocolate truffles and a plate of fresh gooseberries and red currents. We've had a spate of very nice Italian eating lately, but have decided that this is our "home base" place. Here's bravos to what feels very much like a labor of successful love in both the kitchen and the front of the house.

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  1. nice review...chuck and joannie are both amazing (chuck is the chef ) and Joannie runs the front of house. Joannie is allergic to gluten as well, so I'm sure that helps with chuck's sensitivity to this allergy

    1. That's a great review. I walked by this place a few months ago and have only heard good things. I can't wait to try it out!

      1 Reply
      1. re: CreativeFoodie42

        I finally went to Erbaluce last night for dinner and it lived up to a lot of the rave reviews. Like teezeetoo, I loved the white bean puree and EVOO combination. We started with their special of chicken livers, onion, fennel and peppers. For an entree, I had the seared red drum filet with orange mint sauce, white beans, wild eggplants and greens. This was my first experience with both red drum filet and wild eggplants and they were both so delicious. I dream of cooking fish to this perfection - nicely cooked on the inside with a perfectly crispy skin on the outside. My DC had a rabbit dish with white beans, onions, rhubarb and strawberries. And even though we claimed we couldn't squeeze another bite, we settled on a raspberry tart with an orange whipped cream and honey. Chef Charles Draghi brought that one out himself and described the local raspberries and it was worth every bite.

        I am fan of the farm to table movement in our local restaurants and tend to cross the river to hit up my favorites but with Erbaluce so close by, I've got to add that to the list.

        Also, I noticed they have a separate menu for the bar area which also looked interesting. I can't wait to give that a try!

      2. They've got a periwinkle appetizer going these days that is sensational. Some work to dig the little beggars out of their shells, but mighty tasty.

        7 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Funny, was up in Gloucester this past weekend and saw a guy collecting some. Know places on the North Shore where you can harvest 3 pounds in half an hour. A lot of work to eat 'em though.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            we've had them @ PotLuck Cafe (original incarnation) where they ground off the pointy end so you could 'blow' them out of their shells. it was tricky to not launch them at my DC.

            1. re: ScubaSteve

              I like that, tasty morsels from the sea, and a food fight all in one. How the heck they grind the ends is a good question.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                yah, i was about 3-4 in when i noticed that jamming my toothpick in caused a little sauce-bubble to form @ the other end. after that, i just thought it natural to employ a little air pressure to assist in the process.

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            The periwinkles are amazing. I've never seen them on any menus around town and have never had them before trying them at Erbaluce last week. I love this place in general. Everything is always delicious and expertly prepared. I put it at the top of my list of italians along with Prezza and Sorellina....but at a much better price point.

            1. re: Monty

              You can find periwinkles in Chinatown. The periwinkles in black bean sauce at New Jumbo are excellent.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                yes! my favorites. go into a trance and just keep picking them out

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. We went to Erbaluce last night before seeing Steve Martin at the Wang (which was great!) and I *really* wanted to love Erbaluce, but parts of the meal were too disappointing. We split a tomato/mozzarella salad with walnut vinaigrette - the ingredients were delicious, but the overall salad was missing some kind of zing or something - salt? vinegar? Something was missing. My husband had the pork, which he loved, and I had the risotto - it was very fresh, but not creamy at all - more like rice with fresh corn - and didn't have a lot of flavor. The people next to us got the gnocchi, and loved it, and I wish that I'd gotten that instead... The best part of the meal was the dessert - the pana cotta was truly one of the best desserts I've ever had - with marinated raspberries - I wanted to lick the plate. Service from our waiter was spotty - sometimes very attentive, but then would disappear (they were packed). The owner was really fantastic with helping us select dessert. I'd definitely go back again, but have to say that the appetizer and my entree were less than I'd expected.

              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

              1 Reply
              1. re: sallyt

                I stopped in for a glass of wine. Adored the bartender. Asked for a glass of his favourite red and got a tasting. Completely schooled on wine and the menu - very impressed and look forward to returning and eating at his bar, drinking his favourite reds and sampling the menu. The chef was visiting a couple at the other end of the bar and he was very engaging. There is a certain passion at this place that draws.