A few years ago a coworker and I, after a terrible day at work, ducked around the corner to the then fairly new Erbaluce to have a nice glass of wine. That turned into two and then small plates and then dinner, and we left completely blown away by the atmosphere, the food, and the incredibly nice people behind the bar. Fast forward to date night last night, and for some reason Erbaluce just came to mind, and since NJS had never been that became our destination.
There is a lot of talk in Boston about the cocktail scene, and genius behind some really great bars. Places like Eastern Standard and Drink come to mind every time, and deservedly so. But if you want the best cocktail in Boston without having to fight your way through a sea of after-work jerks and hype lovers, go to the bar at Erbaluce. We’re biased, because we came in early when it was quiet and Nick was creating cocktails for the next menu and we were able to ask a ton of questions. We learned so much about tinctures and infusions, and using all parts of lavender and what that means for your nose and your tongue, and how you can take a cordial-only license and make drinks that make me not miss bourbon. I won’t tell you how to drink, but you really should try the as-yet-unnamed cocktail with grappa and marjoram. It doesn’t taste anything like what you think it would. I’ve been calling it “I Can’t Believe It’s Grappa” but I think they’re looking for a name that’s slightly more Italian.
I’m not a food blogger because I feel weird reviewing specific dishes without overusing the same words and generally sounding like a jerk, and most people I know don’t want to hear the details of why I loved the wild boar meatballs, they want to see photos and hear about the overall evening so they can create their own experience when they go. Besides, the menu at Erbaluce is so fresh that there’s a good chance they won’t have the same items even if you go soon.
I will say, though, that there is maybe another day or two left on the white truffle special… I can’t recall the details of it but there’s pasta and delicious things and then the chef comes out and shaves truffle over your dish. And all of this done without an ounce of pretention, not even a smidge of it. If that’s up your alley go there RIGHT NOW and get it.
At one point Chef Draghi came out (ok, he came out a lot to talk with everyone eating that night) and asked how we liked everything, and he told us when he and his wife opened he wanted to create a neighborhood joint that felt like being at someone’s house. Everyone there, from other diners to the staff, were the kinds of people we love to hang out with and last night really did feel like we were at a friend’s (very lovely) house exploring our way through their kitchen and bar.
We don’t even live in Bay Village, and this might be our new neighborhood restaurant.
Here comes the food porn.
For small plates we had: wild boar meatballs in spicy tomato sauce, cheese plate, speck with spiced apple, mint and sesame.
For our entree we split: organic veal short rib. It’s not what you think – it’s the only short rib I’ve ever had not served in some kind of sauce or prepared in a heavy tomato base. It came with bitter greens (which I love and try to eat every night, much to NJS’s chagrin) and citrus.
Dessert was the poached pear. The desserts I’ve had at Erbaluce (now two) I’ve liked because they aren’t overly sweet. The pear was light and flavorful and even with caramel wasn’t that cloying sweet that hurts the back of your throat. Also, it has a great story to it. I won’t tell it here because you should hear it from them if you order it.
What’s your favorite neighborhood restaurant? Please please don’t say Applebee’s.