Monday, May 9, 2011

Prezza, North End, Boston

This year we decided to change things up for Mother's Day this year, and as opposed to having a somewhat rushed brunch on Sunday, my sister and I took my mom out for dinner on Saturday evening.  After much debate, we settled on Prezza, an Italian restaurant located on Fleet Street in the North End.

Prezza mimics the food of the Abruzzi region in Italy, where they depend heavily on polenta, fresh vegetables and pork dishes.  With spring upon us I was excited to see how they played with the bounty of spring vegetables that are out now. 

It was evident, as soon as we entered the restaurant, that they were extremely busy.  The bar was bustling, a large party had a private space cornered off in the head of the room, and our table was about 10 minutes behind.  Seated finally however, we were greeted by our pleasant waiter, and promptly served rustic Italian Bread and Focaccia with olive oil, and allowed us time to review our menus and make our choices.

We settled on two appetizers- my mom's favorite of stuffed squash blossoms and wood grilled octopus and and squid.

The star of this round were those stuffed squash blossoms.  These beautiful flowers had been fried to a beautiful light crisp, and then placed over soft, cheesy polenta accented with pancetta and tomatoes.  I loved the texture contrasts between the very crisp flower, with its very delicate flavor and natural sweetness, and the rich, creamy polenta.  The tomatoes added a perfect touch of acid to break up the richness, and the crisp pancetta lent smokey pockets as a final twist within the dish.  I had a hard time keeping my fork from drifting to this plate more than a few times.

The wood grilled octopus and squid were served with braised cannelloni beans enhanced with parsley.  The octopus and squid were both well cooked- both brought to a perfect textural state without being chewy- a difficult line to stay on the right side of.  Both were clean and fresh tasting, which paired beautifully with the dense beans and bright parsley. This was a beautiful dish, full of the flavors of Italy.

We finished our appetizers and I was excited to move on to the entrees, unfortunately we had a wait before they were brought to our table.  I am not sure what caused this exactly, other tables were served promptly, our neighbors sat while we enjoyed our appetizers and left mid way through our entree after having a complete meal.  Our entrees, for whatever reason were delayed at least a half an hour to forty minutes, with little to no explanation.  Unfortunately, while it doesn't reflect the food, an error like a long wait, to me, plays a big part in the over all feel of the meal. 

As the case may be, I was very excited when, after the long wait, our entrees were served.  My sister had decided on their pea raviolini prepared with Jonas ham, fresh spring peas and marscapone cheese, I settled on the grilled swordfish swerved with a chunky artichoke and potato "stew" and my mother chose the crispy pork chops served with vinegar peppers.  My sisters spring pea raviolini were delicious- silky marscapone sweetened with fresh peas and encased in well made pasta.  It was a wonderful dish, though I did think that the peas were a bit under cooked and therefore a bit toothsome.  My mothers pork was incredible.  A huge bone in chop, crusted in panko bread crumbs, moist and perfectly cooked.  The fattiness of the pork was wonderfully offset by the vinegar peppers which were perfectly tart and still had a bit of crunch to them.   I envied this dish.  My swordfish however was not as successful as the other two.  The fish itself was well cooked, but hadn't been seasoned before it was grilled.  I found that the stew, a puree of artichoke and potato with larger pieces kept whole for contrast, was also woefully under seasoned.  The unfortunate result was a rather bland dish, and one that I had difficulty eating due to its lack of flavor. 

We decided to split a dessert as well- and chose their fig turnover, paired with a port wine reduction and a pistachio glace.  The fig in the turnover was encased in a beautifully flaky crust, light and buttery all at once.  The filling was natural fig, sweet in and of itself.  By itself this was delicious, however when paired with the port wine reduction, the syrupy sweet over took the light crust and resulted in a too sweet combination.

Overall, Prezza is a beautiful restaurant, with friendly staff and some great ideas.  They are not a "typical" Italian restaurant, however it appears their execution is a bit lacking.  Under seasoning, long waits, these are things that can be easily fixed so it's a place that I would try again, however at this time, I'll try a few other places before returning.


Delicious Dishings said...

I remember having some amazing duck ravioli at Prezza a few years ago.

Jen said...

Aw, that's disappointing! I was hoping for a rave review!

In and Around Town said...

So sorry about your trip - they normally do such a fantastic job! I agree about a long wait really can throw things off

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Bummer about the under seasoned swordfish. Totally bummer. That ravioli sounds really good thought!

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Thanks for the review. I've had a couple great meals at Prezza. Guess it can be hit or miss?!

Kristen said...

loved this review - especially since I can nod right along with your take on the woodgrilled octopus and that pork entree. Winning dishes for sure! Sorry your entree was lacking. I did not have dessert and your too sweet turnover makes me almost happy I passed! Also - Major bummer about the service :(

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...