Tuesday, April 14, 2009

La Cucina Italiana

Imagine walking into a restaurant with a warm Tuscan feel, wood-fired oven, background conversations in Italian and Executive Chef Marisa Iocco in the kitchen. I am sure you are thinking you are in Boston’s North End. Now - what if I told you that you were able to park out front and on the way to the front door you walked past a large stone patio with outdoor seating? Perhaps that is when you would realize that you were envisioning Needham’s newly re-opened Spiga Trattoria Italiana.
Spiga's wood-fired oven, visible to diners in the restaurant's open kitchen

Through a friend, I had an opportunity to visit Spiga the night before their grand re-opening. It was then that Nick (General Manager) and Carmelo (Owner) walked me through the restaurant's face-lift and Chef Iocco’s exciting new lunch and dinner menus. This made it very easy for me to imagine sitting down to a four course meal paired with a nice bottle of wine. My vision included the following:

Antipasti: Carpacchio of prosciutto and bresaola with arugola, parmigiano and lemon cream
Primi: Parmigiana of eggplant with crispy pasta sails, tomato and fresh mint condiment
Secondi: Sesame crusted trout with striped beets, fresh poblano pepper, kiwi insalata, rice and zenzero vinegar reduction
Dolci: Chocolate trilogy of chocolate budino, gianduia gelato and truffle bacio

Parmigiana of eggplant with crispy pasta sails, tomato and fresh mint condiment

After visualizing my future dining experience, I perched myself at the bar, where I had a front-row seat to watch the extremely energetic Jose train the front-of-the-house lunch staff. As I looked on, he demonstrated everything from the proper technique for frothing milk for a cappuccino, to the importance of maintaining a clean bar area, to his expectations for the reaction to dropped silverware. I could tell that his audience of trainees, (like myself) was soaking up every word he was saying.

A trainee's cappuccino, made under Jose's watchful eye

Having lived in the North End prior to moving to Charlestown, fortunately, this is not the first time I have walked into one of Chef Iocco’s restaurants. Bricco and Mare were favorite dinner locations for authentic pasta and fresh seafood. When I worked downtown, Umbria was a favorite lunch-time meeting place. With these dining memories – and the experience I had last night, how could I not be looking forward to going back for my four course meal?

‘Uno non può pensare bene, amare bene, dormire bene, se non ha mangiato bene.’ ~ Virginia Wolf

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