Terramia Ristorante (98 Salem St) coins itself to be the “Best Italian restaurant in Boston” which is a pretty bold statement as it is located in the heart of the “Little Italy” of Boston, the North End. Bravado aside, the quaint restaurant has been in the area since 1993 when Carla Gomes Agripino opened the restaurant with executive chefs Mario Nocera and Joseph Tinnirello. The idea of the restaurant was to bring the simple, fresh dishes found in the seaside town of Salerno, Italy to the North End. As time has gone on, the restaurant has expanded its flavors to be more daring, yet has kept the intimacy of the Tuscan dining experience in the atomosphere with small intimate tables adorned with crisp white linens and in the deep wood exposed beam that align the ceiling.
Our blogger dinner was served family style with dishes flying in from the kitchen at a steady pace. To start, we were served bread and their Canollini Bean Puree – think hummus texture – which was served with a bit of olive oil and ground red pepper. It was okay, but I personally preferred the olive oil as a stand alone.
Caprese salads are a staple in Italian cuisine, especially in the summer, and the one we were served at Terramia had two types of tomatoes and was made with delicious buffalo mozarella, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil.
A signature dish of the restaurant is their Lobster Fritters, that are served in crisp pillows of batter that surround the fresh lobster. They are served with crispy sweet potatoes, leeks and balsamic honey.
For the vegetarian and zucchini lovers, they also have the Zucchini Flowers which are made with the same batter as for the lobster fritters, that has a taste of a corn dog or hot water corn bread, but with a slight more fluff. I tasted more of the mozarella and Italian basil than much of the zucchini, but the truffle honey aioli was delicious. But, let’s be real, you can’t go wrong with honey truffle anything.
Fortunate those who have dietary restrictions like vegan, vegetarian or gluten, they are very accommodating. I had the vegetarian version of one of my favorite Italian dishes, Gnocchi (San Marzano tomato, basil, garlic sauce, Parmegiano cheese) which is usually served with meatballs. They have been praised for their red sauce, which I will agree is very good. The ripeness and type of tomato used in a red sauce determines the level of acidity. This sauce, has very low acidity and a robust tomato flavor. The gnocchi however, was too dense for my palate and didn’t hold the rich tomato flavor of the sauce. As it is usually served with meatballs, I can understand how some flavors could be lacking. When a chef takes meat out of a dish, they need to add in something else to supplement spice and fullness the meat originally added.
Instead of sticking to the menu, I recommend asking for their daily special. The table raved about the Fig Ravioli with Marscapone, and I was fortunate enough to grab a square and immediately regretted my previous order. The sweet roasted fig brought a luxuriance to the simplistic dish and the marscapone cream sauce was “perfecto”.
Also off the menu was a Risotto with Fresh Shrimp which plated looked like a seafood lovers delight:
For dessert, we shared a sampler of Torta al Cioccolato Senza Farina, Bread Pudding and Tirimisu. The table favorite was the bread pudding, though I found the torta al ciccolato which was a flourless chocolate cake, to be divine – and gluten free!
What I learned from my meal at Terramia, is that when you are eating in the North End, once you’ve found the restaurants that makes your favorite dishes the way you like, stick to that restaurant. When trying out a new restaurant, have a sense of adventure and always go for the specials. By trying something that’s off the menu, you will experience the strengths of chef’s talent and creativity.
Thanks Kerrie and Jen!
Disclaimer: This meal was provided to me free of charge. All of my thoughts and opinions are my own.