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Mar 15, 2012 06:11 AM

Strega Waterfront -- What's the attraction ??

Had dinner at Strega Waterfront last night and I have to say I was not impressed. Although the food tasted fine I just think the chef is taking the easy road , almost copping out, in a sense , in his/her preparation of food considering the prices they are charging. I would categorize the food ( at least what I ate ) as "hotel Italian ". I was with 3 other people and while no one complained, the food looked very simple as in basic assembly line prep. For the amount of money they are charging , the food should be better than that . It was quite crowded and I am just surprised that people are excited to be eating there, I would be hard pressed to go again or recommend it.

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  1. You're not going to get much (any?) arguments on those points from these parts. The allure is the location. Nothing more. Strong after work crowd on weeknights. Easy highway access for the fake tanned/Ed Hardy t shirt wearing people from the North Shore on the weekends. That's about it. I personally find Nick Varano's whole schtick repulsive. Then again, he apparently has a "veal-a chop that is-a to die for"

    8 Replies
    1. re: mkfisher

      don't forget the botox and fake boobs.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Botox and fake boobs are everywhere. Strega remains one of the hottest rests in Boston on one of the most expensive piece of property. I guess to each their own. Possibly they should make watered down cheap chowder like Neptune oyster, then they would get mentioned all the time.
          But I doubt the bad reviews have hurt business.

          1. re: libertywharf

            Yes, the notion that restaurant popularity doesn't always correlate to quality often comes up here when Seaport restaurants are discussed.

            It's interesting to hear that you think Neptune's chowder is watered down and cheap. A real clam stock like Neptune's, very light on dairy and absent any additional thickeners, is quite traditional for New England clam chowder, but admittedly is rare in Boston restaurants. Most are serving something made with stock from soup base or canned clam juice and thickened to glop with flour.

            Who do you think serves a quality chowder?


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I finally used that Strega gift card I referred to in another thread yesterday. I have to say..I was less than impressed with the service and the food. I guess if don't know a lot about Italian cuisine or aren't familiar with it..there could be a certain appeal. For the money, I'd pick Salvatore's over Strega in a heartbeat. Not a lot of offerings on the menu without sauce either.
              Definitely not someplace that would be my first choice. Better places to eat abound.
              Funniest thing one at the North End location seemed familiar with The Phantom Gourmet.. I got a kick out of that one.

              1. re: BlueMagic

                Nice to hear that some folks can still feel shame about their association with The Pimpin' Gourmet.


            2. re: libertywharf

              What in your opinion makes it on of the "hottest" restaurants? Just the crowds? Mentions in the free weeklies/Phantom Gourmet?

        2. I really don't get it either. I could buy that it's a case of style over substance, but the place is tacky as hell. A portrait of Al Pacino? Really?

          4 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            Not just a gigantic portrait of Al Pacino, but one of DeNiro, too, and both apparently painted by the bastard mutant offspring of LeRoy Neiman and Jackson Pollock. They're two of many amazingly tacky design motifs throughout. All that's missing are Capodimonte centerpieces on each table.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I haven't seen the portraits, but I assume they are done by

                1. re: phatchris

                  Yep, that's him. The Strega DeNiro portrait is shown on that website.


            1. As has been said hundreds of times on Chowhound, the Cheesecake Factory is packed on a nightly basis. Crowds do not indicate quality.

              1. Some people enjoy the scene. The food is not uniformly terrible, but the experience overall is sort of hilariously (or possibly painfully) kitschy. As absurd and cartoonish as the whole thing is, and as ridiculous as the ads and the "The Strega Life" NESN TV show are, Varano himself is charming in person as a host, seems genuinely to care about people having a good time.

                Of course, there's the old Hollywood line, "Once you learn to fake sincerity, you've got it made in this town." The other problem is that the whole thing adds up to be pretty expensive. At that price point, you can eat much more serious and amazing Italian food elsewhere (Prezza and Erbaluce spring immediately to mind), with more interesting wines, and service without broad fake Italian accents.

                It is, as Belichick would say, what it is.


                1. Very popular with the expense account crowd, especially the out-of-town travelers. I'm certain they have wonderful ($$) relationships with every hotel concierge in the Financial District. The service has been pretty good when I've been there for dinners (never my choice), and there is a lot to choose from as far as food goes, so it makes it a safe choice.