Despite great restaurants, good cafes and delicious food, there’s one thing the North End doesn’t have and Owner Donato Frattaroli plans to bring it to Lucia Ristorate. The idea is for a group of people to sit around a communal table and enjoy a special theme dinner.
At an invitees-only party for media showcasing the idea, the good owner and Chef Pino Maffeo hosted a group of 12 at a unique two-hour long polenta party, Italian style with lots of wine, jokes and merriment.
From the traditional antipasto featuring the tenderest of prosciutto to the juiciest lamb shank over a creamy polenta, it was a unique experience diners would definitely pay for.
Our journey started with the antipasto plate featuring a smoky marinated eggplant and roasted peppers next to the traditional meat and cheese – all exceptionally fresh and tasty.
I had mixed feelings about an Asian-inspred shrimp dish with a tangy salty and sweet glaze that I found overpowering. I think a simple Italian olive oil base would have brought out the flavor of the high quality shrimp more.
A visit to the kitchen a flight below showed us the chef cooking a large pot of polenta in a surprisingly clean and spacious kitchen. The chef said they are one of few restaurants to have so much space and pointed to the two extra rooms they use for functions, aside from the main dining space.
Then came the polenta dishes and any doubts or self control vanished as we dug into a rich rabbit and truffle dish, a braised lamb shank so tender that it didn’t need a knife, lip-smacking pork riblets with a red sauce that must have simmered for days to reach that flavor and color. I couldn’t even try to rate these dishes. They were tender, tasty and packed with umami in a way I haven’t had in a while.
Dessert included a tangy lemon and a smooth coconut sorbetto, a moist hazelnut cake with a side on creme fraiche.
Throughout dinner, waiters kept filling our glasses with a Puglian Sangiovese, a good simple wine to complement everything. We left a very stuffed group, groaning from over-indulging but wishing we could have eaten more…
Many of the recipes come from Frattaroli’s mother, from whom Lucia proudly takes its name. The restaurant is celebrating 35 years on Hanover Street and has a sister restaurant in Winchester.
415 Hanover St.
North End, Boston