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Feb 13, 2012 05:44 AM

Delicious fun at Scampo

I had been waiting three years to try Scampo so I'm happy to say my expectations were not only met but were exceeded. Had a wonderful evening of great food and fun with my husband, daughter and her boyfriend.

We knew we weren't in Kansas anymore when the first thing our server did was drop a glassful of homemade breadsticks directly onto the table, alongside a creative fava bean and pine nut dip. (Luckily that was on a plate.) Really delicious way to start off.

Keeping in mind the wonderful recommendations from the posters on CH, I ordered the whimsical Elephant Ear Walking for the table, a tasty crisp flatbread covered with tomato sauce, cheese and deep-fried crispy basil.

I also wanted to order Naan, but hubby had a hankering for garlic bread so he ordered that. It tasted rather ordinary, Naan next time.

Chef Lydia Shire was not in the house that night, but fortunately her son Andrew was. He had just returned from a trip to Barcelona and stopped by our table twice. An earnest chef looking to make his culinary mark, he sent us two complimentary dishes. I am not used to such special and gracious attention and service. It made a great meal a great experience.

The first complimentary dish was an appetizer, not on the menu, which Andrew said was inspired from Barcelona. It was a disk of ground steak, fois gras and sausage, served with lemon-dressed greens, balsamic reduction, crisp bread, and some very thin sliced warm pears with red and yellow jelly like things - I don't know what they are called - something like "moutardes??" Both sweet and sour. Can someone take a look at the picture and help me out and tell me what the red and yellow things are? This was my favorite bite of the night. The meats combined beautifully. You could taste them all, yet they melded. I loved the pop from the red and yellow things and pears. I could have had this dish alone for a meal and been very happy. Hope it makes it to the regular menu.

For mains, the group had White Asparagus Ravioli which was light and nicely done. Roast Suckling Pig was moist, flavorful, one of the best preparations I've had outside of a neighborhood pig roast. It came with sweetbread ravioli which even my finicky husband liked. From the Mozzarella Bar I chose Buffalo Mozzarella with tomatoes (it's usually an app, but I ordered one extra piece of cheese to kick it up). I knew I would be nibbling a lot of food, so I kept my entree on the simpler side. The cheese was top notch, smooth and soft. The only meh entree was the Walnut Gnocchi. My daughter found it bland. It also came with sweetbreads which she tried but did not like the texture. Kudos to her though for trying something new.

The second complimentary dish was Spaghetti with Pork Cracklings and Pepper. You folks recommended it and for good reason. Al dente pasta with crunchy cracklings and a wallop of heat from finely diced peppers. As a non-pepper fan I would not have ordinarily ordered it, but I was glad to try something new out of my comfort zone and it was simply delicious.

We were having so much fun we didn't want to leave so even though we were massively stuffed we ordered the cookie platter for dessert - a selection of quality stuff including coconut and almond macaroons and cherry biscotti. Couldn't eat but a nibble and enjoyed the rest back at the hotel.

Scampo has a great sounding cocktail list but daughter wanted a light red wine so we ordered a $50 bottle of Cloudline - a light, fruity Oregonian Pinot Noir. It was good and fit the bill. But I think it is regularly priced at $20 a bottle, if so the mark up was a bit steep. The BF had a glass of dessert Moscat, the first time he has tried anything like that.

Service was gracious, and even though it was a packed and busy Friday night, we felt very welcome.

Overall, Scampo was an exciting way for us to try some new things, dine well, and have a lot of fun.

I will not wait three years to return.

Pictures (cell phone without flash):

1. View of bread from our table. Next time I'd love to sit at the bar at the open kitchen.
2. Breadsticks and Fava Dip.
3. Elephant Ear Walking.

4. Special Barcelona Sausage Appetizer.
5. Asparagus Ravioli.
6. Spaghetti with Cracklings and Pepper.
7. Buffalo Mozzarella.
8. Cookies.

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  1. I think the red and yellow stuff is probably mostarda - made from fruit, syrup and mustard.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsenada

      Thank you Nsenada, I think you're right! Mostarda. I just googled it and that looks like what it was. Never had it before. It accompanied the meat and pears really well. I'm still thinking about how good that dish was.

    2. Thanks for the detailed report. I have never been disappointed at Scampo. We always try and arrive 20-30 min before our reservation to enjoy cocktails upstairs in one of the lobby nooks with seating.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gordough

        We arrived just a little early so we could around the lobby upstairs and look at the windows with the bars on them. What a cool looking hotel. The lobby was packed with what appeared to be well-dressed doctors and such, no surprise considering how close Scampo is to MGH. It was definitely the most happening hotel lobby I've ever see.

      2. Trish, thank you so much for your wonderful review of Scampo.

        I will be going there this Saturday night to celebrate my birthday. We are having drinks first at Alibi. I am so excited!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janiekins

          janie, plse tell us how it was! we have reservations for tonight(Tues.)!

        2. Trish,

          Thanks for the great report. I have also had some wonderful experiences @ Scampo, but it somehow fell off my radar. I applaud that members of your part stretched beyond their comfort zones a bit, that willingness can open up entirely new culinary worlds .

          Thanks for reminding me that it's a place I must return to.

          1. I went to Scampo last night with my family. There were hits and misses (hint: the hits were what previous hounds recommended)

            -Elephant Ear Walking: My parents didn't know what I was ordering but they were delighted when it arrived at the table. This was a great bread to share with the table and get excited for the rest of the meal. As a previous poster mentioned the tomato sauce was delicious.

            - pork chop: When this huge chop arrived at the table compared to by Dad's tiny pasta and my brother and mom's pizzas, everybody laughed at me.... I have never been a pork chop person but based on hound's recommendation I got this and nobody was laughing after was definitely the best pork I've ever had... the meat was juicy and flavorful and the fat was succulent and unctuous.

            - seared tuna: MR got the tuna with purple yam puree and practically licked his plate clean. I can always tell when he likes something because he won't want to taste my entree even when its an amazing pork chop.


            - burrata with bacon and pear: I didn't really care about the bacon with the chop coming but I love burrata so that's why ordered this. The cheese itself was pretty good but it was like a two-tablespoon size dollop buried under a plate of endive and fennel (sliced too thickly IMO). For $19 I would just skip this. I thought at that price there would be enough burrata for everyone to share a little taste but that was not the case. If you need a burrata fix, get it at Il Casale for $6. In general Scampo's "mozzarella bar" is really just a list of salads that happen to have a bit of cheese on them.

            - ambience: At 7:30 the music was so loud in there that I couldn't hear what my mom was saying and she was sitting right next to me. In general she's pretty loud too. And I could tell that everyone on that side of the room was pretty much yelling to each other. I did ask the hostess to turn the music down slightly. She was very nice and I think accommodated my request... or the next songs just happen to be quieter.

            - cappucino: it was just a huge cup of milky coffee with way to much foamy milk on top- skip it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: heypielady

              Thanks for the very detailed report! That pork chop sounds good!

              1. re: Dave MP

                Consistency can be a problem with the pork chop, in my experience-- sometimes it's truly amazing, other times overcooked or undercooked, so just be aware...