Being who I am, I of course equate any type of occasion with food- happy occasions- lets celebrate with food, sad times, well food will cheer you up. I don't pretend that this is a healthy way of looking at things, but I do accept it for what it is. That said, Friday night was "an occasion" and so I booked reservations at Grotto, a small, intimate, Italian restaurant in Beacon Hill.
I have been to Grotto once before, but for Restaurant Week a year and a half ago so I was excited to try it with out the RW hype. Grotto's set up is Prix Fixe, though everything is also available a la carte, so you have a nice option of how you choose to dine.
I started with a salad of spinach, roasted red peppers, black olives, capers and all topped with a beautiful piece of pan "toasted" mozzarella cheese. Served in a stack, dressed with a slightly acidic, though highly addictive dressing, this was a wonderful salad. The spinach was very fresh and delicious, the red peppers slightly sweet, the olives and capers added that wonderful salty flavor that brings together all other flavors, and the mozzarella was slightly gooey, and beautifully creamy and nutty all at once. This was a really nice way to start off what could be a typically heavy Italian meal. My DC started with a dish of house prepared ricotta cavatelli, sausage, peas, mushrooms, pancetta and cream. I had a small bite and found it to be delicious, though very rich. The sausage had a slight spice to it that blended nicely with the creamy pasta and cream sauce, and the peas added a small texture change that gave it a really nice feel. He decided that he could have eaten a whole plate of that for his meal he enjoyed it so much.
My main course I decided on Pork tenderloin for my main, also served in the "tower" fashion, it was paired with polenta, wilted spinach, caramelized onions and dried cranberries. Though rather salty for my taste, this had really nice contrast of flavors. The pork was cooked to medium, and very nicely flavored, the spinach maintained its own flavor which stood up really nicely to the meaty flavor of the pork and the smoky sweetness caramelized onions. The cranberries added an interesting flavor contrast with the sweet tartness, and the polenta was a nice backbone, though I believe it to be the culprit of salt overload-either the polenta or the sauce whose flavors I could not quite place. Though I enjoyed the meal very much, I was bothered throughout with the salt content. Hopefully that is just a one time error.
We reviewed the dessert menu but nothing seemed to jump out at us so we ended our meal there.
Grotto is a great little restaurant when you want an extremely intimate setting. The room is fashioned like a wine cellar, brick walls and showcases of wine bottles. Our waitress was efficient, and kind-and was ready to be engaged on the different types of wine, as well as sharing her favorites that she thought I also might enjoy for other evenings. Grotto is absolutely one of my go-to places for special occasions purely because I can depend on them for an evening of great service, and attention to detail.