Haven't seen anything on this board about this new Italian restaurant (in Cambridge, between Harvard and Porter) since it opened a few weeks ago. Anyone been?
Went last night and it was full.
I enjoyed the house made sausage with white beans, spinach, and roasted peppers for my entree and a bruschetta with kale, garlic, and ricotta cheese for an appetizer.
I wanted a pasta dish for my entree but the menu is designed so that the pasta dishes are the second course of the meal.
I only had wine but the bartenders were measuring the cocktails and using fresh juices which is always a good sign.
I went on Friday night - it was full when we got there at around 9:30 - got two seats at the bar.
Started with the escarole hearts with radicchio, white beans, and orange anchovy vinaigrette* 10 - Really enjoyed the salad - good mix of bitter, tangy, salty - there were white anchovies on the salad that tasted a little fishy, and not in a good way, but we were none the worse for wear.
Then the tiny clams ‘in brodetto’ with pancetta, ceci, and spinach* 16 - small portion, maybe 8-9 truly tiny clams - good flavor, lots of broth, the pancetta was meaty.
Finally, we split the orecchiette ‘cacio e pepe’ (assorted peppercorns and grana-style cheeses)* 14 We were splitting everything - like Italian tapas - but we were warned that the portion size was small. It looked small, because of how the orecchiette spooned together, but it was fine. The pasta was more like shells than what I have had as orecchiette - they were thinner than orecchiette too. Could have used more black pepper, and I am not fully convinced that orecchiette is right pasta. But it was a good dish.
There were several offerings of wine by the glass, slanted to Italian naturally - I started with a Roman Coke, which had an amaro, some rum, lime - it was excellent.
Certainly had a much better experience in the space than at the prior incarnation, Rafiki.
Something about the place just sort of rubbed me the wrong way in total - ordered one thing and got a different thing. The fishy anchovies. The small portion of clams. A minor billing mistake on the bar tab (which I did not mention). Just a funny vibe. Not sure what the antennae were picking up. Probably nothing.
I went on Thursday night with a friend who had gone the previous week-end and couldn't wait to go back. We split the escarole salad as well; she had the wild boar pappardelle and raved about it, and I had the orecchiette, which I thought was perfect, although the portion was a bit skimpy for the price. For dessert, she had the special olive oil cake, which was very good, not dry as olive oil cake can be, and I had the panna cotta with poached quince, which was pure heaven. I did everything but lick the bowl. The chef came by to check on us while we were eating, and the waiter was very well-informed and chatty (he was hired from the Four Seasons, as he wanted to be somewhere "less corporate"). We liked the vibe. However, we also had a problem with the bar bill, which my friend pointed out and they just comped her second glass of wine. I'm certainly going back.
I went for an early dinner last week and was seriously disappointed. The service was bizarre -- we were rushed through the meal by just about everyone -- server, busser, manager -- even though it was a Wednesday at 6:00 and the restaurant was nearly empty. The server came to 'check' on us every two bites, and tried to clear everything before we were finished. She also asked us if we wanted anything else to drink about ten times, even though it was clear we did not. We ended up spending more than $100, but the server seemed annoyed that we weren't there to booze or have a 4-course meal.
Also, the food was fine but nothing special. We split several appetizers, pastas, and sides, and nothing stood out as great. A week later, I can barely remember what we ate.
I won't be back.
I've been twice in the past week. The first time we had the 5 course tasting, which was really just amazing: pastas and bay scallops were standouts, but everything was great and very creative. Went back for a light bite at the bar and ended up eating much more than intended, couldn't help ourselves. This deserves a fuller report, but for now I'll just say that it's absolutely a new top tier place, a very pleasant surprise, and we'll be back often.
Photo is from the final savory course of the tasting.
We had an excellent meal at Giulia a few weeks ago on a Monday. We had our toddler in tow, and were there before 6 (as is our SOP with her). It was empty when we arrived, but full by the time we left around 7:15p or so. Food, service and atmosphere were all excellent. This is a great addition to the neighborhood and this side of the river. While I wouldn't put it in the value category, we will be back somewhat regularly. The portions were appropriate for how we like to eat. One app, 2 pastas and 1 entree fed 2 adults and one toddler (who ate everything) very well. There was also excellent Iggy's bread to start, and the Iggy's owners were choosing down at the island table by the kitchen. As far as the food, we tried:
- burrata di puglia with charred peppers, golden raisins, and pine nuts: Great flavor combo and perfect burrata (assumed it was made in house).
- spelt fusilli with roasted mushrooms: My wife wanted to try the spelt and it stood up to the (excellent) pappardelle
- pappardelle with wild boar: this one knocked our heads back. I almost ordered more as my daughter bogarted this one.
- wild striped bass with manila clam risotto: Perfectly cooked fish.
The pastas are as good as anywhere in Boston, and all made at the island table before opening. We are looking forward to trying all of them. I was drinking straight liquor as it was 2 days before the birth of another child, but the wine list looked pretty nice. We also will be back to eat at the large bar when it's just the two of us at some point in the distant future. There is no kids menu per se, but the food was tasty enough for a 2.5 year old to eat all of it.
With some of the pub Giulia has gotten lately, we decided to head over on Friday night around 7:30 to check it out. The dining room was fully booked for the evening, but we were able to get 2 seats at the bar. Our bartender was formerly at Catalyst, so we were pretty familiar with his work. The first thing we noticed was the age of the crowd. I told my wife that it felt like we were down in Florida visiting my Dad where the median age is 75. That's a little bit of an exaggeration for sure, but it was definitely a much older crowd than we're used to.
There were 6 or so beers on draft including McChouffe, O'Hara's Stout and Maine BC Peeper. This selection was a pleasant surprise. I know very little about wine, so all I can really say is that my wife enjoyed her glass of montepulciano.
We started with the burrata di puglia with charred peppers, golden raisins, and pine nuts as well as bruschetta with roasted cauliflower, capers, and golden raisins. My wife preferred the burrata. I liked the bruschetta more.
We then ordered the bucatini all’amatriciana and the orecchiette cacio e pepe. As has been mentioned, the portion size on the cacio e pepe was quite small, but the bartender made sure to note this when the order was placed. The bucatini was perfectly acceptable, but not nearly as good as the version they serve down Mass Ave. at L'Impasto. The cacio e pepe was quite good, and there was a nice balance between the cheese and pepper. Though, I still prefer the dish with spaghetti.
One note on the aforementioned bartender/glass of montepulciano that soured the meal. When pouring my wifes wine, the bottle ran out 2/3 way through. No big deal, he'll open a new one (and even made note that "I owe you a bump"). So we go back to conversation, and 5 minutes later the bartender is opening the bottle for a sparkling wine and making a cocktail for someone else, but he still hasn't come back with the wine. We know his work, so we figured they just had to open a bottle/get something from downstairs etc. 5 more minutes pass, and I decide to say something. He genuinely seem annoyed that I reminded him, but maybe I was just reading his reaction wrong. He eventually made it back over to fill the remaining 1/3 of a glass (with a bottle that was already half gone, so I guess he wasn't waiting on anything). Point being, once you start pouring a glass of wine, you should finish before you move onto another customer.
All in all it was ok, but we won't be back. It felt a little pricey for what you got. To me at least, the food at L'Impasto is quite a bit better. That being said, the place seems to be doing quite well and probably doesn't need our business.
EDIT: Totally agree with what Bob Dobalina had to say. There was just something that rubbed us the wrong way too. Hard to pin down, but something was off.
We had another fantastic meal at Giulia over the weekend. All the food was excellent, but the pasta is truly outstanding and probably as good as it gets in Boston right now. We called at the last minute on Friday for a reservation for 2. They were fully booked, but called back a short while later when a cancellation came through, which we thought was great follow up. When we got there the bar was half empty, including the corner seats, so we opted to sit there instead. It was much brighter than on our past visits, and despite the exposed brick walls, some of the rough spots in that space (bar top, floors) become apparent. The manager overheard us discussing the lighting and had it turned down. With the lights dimmed a bit it is a much nicer atmosphere, really like night and day. Service at the bar was relaxed, friendly and efficient. We shared several plates, but no entrees:
- Crostini special: The crostini of the day was a chicken liver mousse. The chicken liver was prepared expertly with a silky and smooth consistency, complimented lightly by olive oil and sea salt (everything is well seasoned here and it makes such a difference)
- Tuna crudo: One of the best raw dishes I have had this summer. The locally caught blue fin was among the best quality I have seen as well. It was simply seasoned and melted in your mouth. The manager told us it had been caught in the gulf of Maine they day before, so they seem to be very conscious of where their ingredients are sourced from.
- Prosciutto di Parma with arugula, and aged parmigiano: This was one of the larger portion dishes. The presentation was pretty straightforward, with excellent quality ingredients. Compared to the other dishes, othing mind blowing, but we cleaned the plate.
- Burrata di Puglia with roasted beets and fried capers: The baby beets were perfectly cooked and seasoned and the fried capers addictive. As with previous visits, the burrata was excellent quality and the best I’ve had in the area on par with what I purchase from Monica’s Mercato.
- Veal breast ravioli (swiss chard, sweetbreads and tomato sugo): As previously mentioned, the pastas are really the stand out at Giulia. The ravioli was very thin and busting with flavor. Wherever they source the veal it is some of the tastiest I have had since staying on at a farm inn in Umbria (not surprising the flavor was to such a high standard, as we were told the chef has Umbrian roots) . The tomato sugo is simple and the perfect compliment to the rich veal and sweet breads. We thought the pappardelle with wild boar was outstanding on a previous visit, but this was every bit as good. The couple next to us at the bar had the orecchiette with sausage, which smelled good enough to steal. The pasta here is just beautiful.
- “nostrale” (local farm pick of the day): This was simply seasonal vegetables sautéed and seasoned. The veg was nice, but there was a bit too much parsley in the dish that overwhelmed the flavor a bit.
- olive oil and citrus cake with raspberries, rhubarb broth, whipped cream: the cake was a bit on the “zesty” side for my taste, but my wife loved it. The broth was excellent, but the whipped cream was flat.
The bill was $130, including 4 cocktails. Well worth it from the perspective that this was the best meal we have had in Boston this summer, but I can see how some would consider it expensive as we didn’t order any entrees. However I have no issues with portion or price based on how we like to eat. We can’t wait to get back there very soon.
I had the pleasure of dining at Giulia this past weekend as well during my last night of a New York/Boston vacation (I grew up in Boston, but reside in Chicago now). Pretty much just an all around wonderful dining experience. I enjoyed the ambiance, our primary server was so friendly and helpful (so much on the menu sounding intriguing I was struggling with making decisions and she steered me perfectly). Even the chef made rounds and spent a while chatting with us at our table (turns out he came to Boston from Chicago and used to work at Trio). Everyone we encountered at the restaurant was friendly, professional and passionate.
The octopus and the blue fin tuna crudo antipastas were incredible; the octopus dish was the single best octopus preparation I have ever had (smoky aftertaste and such a nice tender texture) and I have consumed a lot of octopus. We ordered pastas for our entrees and I had the wild boar pappardelle; the pasta itself and the sauce were excellent, the boar meat was good, but just a tad too dry for my preference. Do not dine here without ordering a pasta course. I too enjoyed the olive oil/citrus cake but was not as good as the savories; however others in our party ordered the melon sorbet with olive oil and sea salt and I stole a few bites and this was really delicious. Beverage wise I was impressed with their cocktails and loved the Green Heart featuring green chartreuse, mint, green tea and cucumber infused vodka.
I am going to make it a point to return to Giulia next time I am in Boston (hopefully sooner rather than later) and will try to arrange to be seated at their pasta table (towards the back with views into the semi open kitchen) and do the tasting menu so I can try as much of the cuisine as possible and extend my dining experience.