Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marco Cucina

Marco Cucina
North End, Boston

Marked as the most romantic restaurant in the North End, and I see why. With maybe around 10 tables on this second-floor nook, just above Caffe Paradiso on Hanover Street, Marco Cucina creates a romantic mood with it's warm candlelight that flickers off the rustic, Italian red-brick walls and warm, Tuscan and plaster fireplace. It overlooks the little Italy below and welcomes the Valentine's day couples with its cozy, quiet atmosphere, intimate deuce tables, vino rosso, and charcuterie platters of salumi antipasti, which I have to order on my next visit.

Rosso di Montalcino
Castello di Camigliano—Toscana, 2003
100% Sangiovese Grosso
This was a full bodied wine, known as the "cabernet" of Italy. It is full in sangiovese grape, with rich blackberry tones that are vibrant in aroma and flavor. Overall, this is a smooth, yet filling wine - rather bold, I'd say. It was a nice choice for the evening a Italia.

Tuscan Foccacia Squares
along with dish of house Caponata,
and Olive Oil di Toscana

These inch squares of homemade Foccaccia bread were not bad, rather good I'd say. They weren't as rich and olive-oiled as I've had before, but they were well salted with smooth touches of garlic an rosemary along the top. There were about 8 squares on this dish, bite size, which was nice for pacing oneself. Alongside the plate came a unique bowl of house caponata. Caponata is a medley of sliced onions, eggplant, red pepper, green round bean, and maybe some tomato to make a ratatoille-esque topping for slices of bread. This tasted like ratatoille to me, but I actually also just took a fork to the dish and ate it like side vegetables. I rather enjoyed it, but it was so simple. The olive oil, of course, is best dipped into with the foccaccia bread. It is of quality from Tuscany with a deep olive color, warm in yellow hues with a touch of olive green. It was rich and thick. Bravi!

PS: The bread is complimentary.

Marco Cucina Ristorante North End Divinebella Boston Restaurant Dinner Romantic Zucchini Arrosto Antipasti ItalianZucchini Arrosto
Tomato confit, basil, capers, kalamata olives, spicy aioli

When it says "arrosto", it really means roasted, and I mean everything is roasted. This platter was a work of art. The way that the chef assembled the platter was on a flat dish with three sushi-like assemblies of portions. Each about the size of two golf balls on top of each other. Zucchini halves were wrapped tightly around a mixture of roasted tomato confit that was so smooth and full of rich, creamy tomato flavors while succulent and tender Spanish black and kalamata olives resided within the mixture to perform in a dimension of classic Italian tomato sauce flavors, with a touch of Capri in the capers and olives, not to mention the roasted basil and Italian parsley bits on the light-flavored aioli (not spicy), which was drizzled lightly on the foundation of the plate. The basil was scattered about the plate, and was crisp to the tongue while still retaining a soft sense of a tamed, usually-strong herb.

Marco Cucina Ristorante Divinebella Boston Restaurant North End Branzino Pesce Fish Dinner Romantic ItalianPesce del Giorno:
Branzino
cockles, capers, olives, tomato, lemon buerre blanc

I couldn't have made a more perfect choice for dinner. I nearly fell over when this plate came to me, for within a deep oval presentation dish lay this length of a fish, cooked in full with all parts intact ever so delicately. The fish was roasted, and to perfection. Shining beneath a light tomato and white wine & lemon beurre blanc sauce, this fish was framed by tiny little see cockles, ever so tasty and light with the sauce, as well as a few capers for adornment. The presentation of this dish was as memorable as the flavor.

I hardly placed my fork into its abdomen and the white fish meat began to flake apart; the only downside to this was all of the bones. There were so many of them! Nevertheless, eating a fish cooked in full, digging beneath the scales was an adventure. I've never been presented with a full fish before. This was a memorable experience for me, and the seasoning was ideal. I honestly don't remember any olives in this - I don't think there were any, but what I remember most is the sauce with the light touch of juicy, soft tomatoes lightly scattered about the lemon blanc jus, as well as the richness of the fish meat texture -- almost identical to that of sea bass. This truly made my evening, aside from having the best dinner date. Props to the chef for turning out this one. It was a special on the Valentine's Day pre-fix, while also being the fish of the day on the a-la-carte menu.

I heard the dessert here was weak and unimpressive, with a whole of two options: Panna Cotta and Tiramisu; both of which I heard were plain. Thus, we resorted to headed to Modern Pastry just down the street for a delightful, and bang-for-your-buck dessert pastry. We couldn't have had a better plan. We then proceeded down to take our dessert into Caffe Vittoria to accompany our dish with some late-night tea. What a night :)

There's no place like Italy...

Marco on Urbanspoon



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