Ristorante Serena, Malden
I found very little about Ristorante Serena when I did a search, so I thought I would share my recent experience.
A friend of mine raved about this “hidden gem” in Malden’s Maplewood Square; she mentioned the delicious pastas and the reasonable prices. We had a 9pm reservation, but the restaurant was only half full on a snowy Saturday night.
We shared the fried calamari ($8) to start and it was awful. The breading was so thick and heavy, I could have been eating fried rubber bands and not known it. I’m willing to bet that it was a frozen Sysco special.
After that, I was apprehensive about the entrees. DC ordered the veal saltimbocca ($19) which came with a side of pasta and I had the spaghetti carbonara ($15). Luckily, the entrees redeemed the restaurant. My carbonara was perfectly al dente pasta coated in a luscious, creamy sauce studded with pancetta. The portion was generous; there was enough for lunch the next day. The veal was also delicious - it was tender and the sherry wine sauce was quite flavorful. His ziti was plain, but cooked correctly.
Perhaps because it was a slow night, our service was extra attentive - I think my water was topped off six times and we got asked “how is everything?” three times. The bread basket had serviceable baguette slices. We decided to forgo dessert, although they did have a strawberry panna cotta that sounded intriguing. The menu is extremely affordable with entrees ranging from $12-$23. There is a parking lot in back, but street parking was available even with all the snow.
We are definitely fans of Serena. Been going there for about 3 years now. I will say, just as you noted, sometimes the fare is "uneven" like your experience with the calamari. However, we've never had a bad entree there and on occasion we've had some brilliant entrees there. Pay special attention to the specials. They are often real standouts. Your experience with service is quite typical. They are super attentive. Always a bright spout if the overall experience. I'm glad you wrote about Ristorante Serena, as we haven't been there in a while. May need to make a trip this weekend.