Thursday, May 21, 2009

Exciting News! And- the Florentine Cafe, North End, Boston

Hello Faithful Readers! I have some very exciting news! I better though after a rather long silence here at A Boston Food Diary! The lovely folks at, a food delivery site catering to San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and our own Boston has asked me to be a guest blogger for them!
So as I continue my exploration of Boston restaurants, good and bad, you will find my reviews in both locations, with more of my adventures in the kitchen here. I hope you all share in my excitement of being part of a great organization that not only helps bring food to the hungry masses of several US cities, but also unites a great group of food bloggers as we dissect the cuisines of our different cities. Definitely head on over to to check it all out!

And without further adieu, I give you my review of The Florentine Cafe in the North End.

One of my good friends birthdays was last Friday and she chose The Florentine Café in the North End as her spot of choice for her birthday celebration. I searched all over the web for reviews, but I wasn’t able to find anything of note. I felt a bit apprehensive of going to a place “blind” but their menu sounded delicious. One fun fact to note is that it is one of Boston’s oldest bars- established soon after the Prohibition Laws were repealed.

There was some confusion as to whether they took reservations, so, throwing caution to the wind, we arrived at the restaurant at 7:30 pm anticipating a very long wait as it was a beautiful spring evening. I was happily surprised to find that they were able to seat our party of four immediately. Within moments of sitting, our waiter greeted us, and then ran to get water and bread for the table. We set to work on deciding on drink orders, and perusing the menu. The waiter returned, took our drink order, and then informed us that he would be back again to take our appetizer order. I found this rather perplexing. We had already decided on what we wanted to have for appetizer, and tried to give it to him- and yet, he was gone before we could insist. A few moments later he returned with the wine, which unfortunately gave him some difficulty in opening, and I think that it threw him from his game for the rest of the evening. After finally pouring the wine, he left again, without taking our appetizer order, and did not reappear for quite some time. A fair fifteen minutes had passed before he reappeared and took our entire order. I hate to bash a waiter, their job is incredibly difficult and one that I have a lot of respect for, but his disappearance definitely cast an odd shadow on the meal. Honestly-it became the low point of the evening for me.

My friend and I had read the menu on line during the weeks that led up to her big night, and decided that their mussels preparation sounded incredible and were a must have. They did not disappoint. Mussels Clams Al Brandy were a perfect start to the meal. The mussels (and some clams!) had been cooked in a broth of tomatoes, bacon, brandy and cream. The hint of sweetness from the brandy mixed with the cream and enhanced by that smoky bacon was really beautiful. I would have adored some crispy bacon sprinkled over the top-but otherwise I loved it. The portion was great too- perfect amount of both mussels and clams for sharing.

I am a huge fan, lover, of Port wine. It is my favorite after dinner drink, but I rarely see it used in savory cooking. Florentine offered a dish that unfortunately is not on their on line menu currently so I cannot remember the name, but it was served as pork medallions with a sauce made of apples, pears, Port and butter. Heaven on earth is what this was. The pork was beautifully cooked- slightly crispy on the outside which allowed for a texture change from the rest of the dish. The Port was mixed with (a lot) of butter, that resulted in a luxurious sauce, full of the beautiful sweet flavor of the Port. The apples and pears had been cooked through, and offered a really nice derivation, and yet compliment to the rest of the dish. I was extremely happy. Normally this dish is served with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach, trying to lighten this meal a bit because of the butter component, I asked if it could be served without the potatoes, but with extra spinach, or veggies. It was served with a generous portion of spinach, and spears of asparagus. The spinach was well seasoned, though perhaps a bit over cooked. It reminded me of the spinach that we all used to buy in the freezer box, indiscernible in shapes, but tasty none the less. The asparagus had been grilled simply and tasted of springtime.

My companions had all ordered different things, one the Veal Parmesan, another the Lobster Ravioli, and the birthday girl had Linguini Fra Diavolo. The Veal Parmesan looked delicious, but was scarfed down-literally- before I was able to steal a bite- however it got rave reviews. To me though, it looked very much like a typical Parmesan dish. The Lobster Ravioli was well reviewed by its recipient, and the bite I had was full of lobster and a really rich and creamy sauce. Finally the Fra Diavolo was chock full of seafood-scallops, lobster tail, and clams. It was definitely enjoyed, and it had tasty flavor, though personally I would have liked to have seen a bit more spice in it. With a name literally translated to Brother Devil- I think a little devil is needed.

Though we did experience some hiccups in service, as the waiter continued his disappearing routine throughout the meal, I am able to almost forget about all of that because my meal was so outrageously delicious. The Florentine Café is a place that I am excited about going back to at some point. I wonder if I ordered extremely well, or if their menu includes a lot of winners? I will happily return to test it out.

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