O.K. ,you North Shore folks, you're not getting my pity any more.(btw, feel free to pity me here in Winchester where we have but one good restnt in the whole town(Catch>>Parson's Table, though we do have a few good places w/in 15 min. But I digress......)
We recently learned of this 2 yr old Salem treasure from CH and friends, and tonight,
four of us had a terrific meal and evening at 62 On Wharf (just behind the new hotel)on Wharf St., off Derby.The room was candlelit, quiet, elegant, comfortable. Service was fairly food-knowledgeable and professional. The food emphasizes the diverse cuisines of Italy, with some French and Mediterranean influences as well. Aside from the top notch quality of food and execution, the FOUR COURSE $28 prix fixe, which some of us had, was an amazing bargain. An hour further south in bustling Boston, this meal would easily have been $58. With a trio of not-budget choices in each course, my companions had :
house- made levain type bread
Roasted Beets with Fennel
Tagliatelle with Pork, Beef, Veal Ragu Bolognese
Seared diver scallops with beluga lentils, pancetta and julienned green apple
Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Bean ice cream
I was supposed to get tastes of their dishes, but somehow that never happened.....
Because their extensive list of $6 'Spuntini/Little bites' (EASILY as big as their $10-$15 Boston counterparts)were so tempting, I started with a "5 for $25" and supplemented it with 2 apps. And shared them all, of course! What an appealing assortment.
The Numero Uno for all of us was the Chickpea Fritters. This('they won't let us take it off the menu') dish is definitely one that shows off Chef/Owner Tony Bettencourt's years of working with Susan Regis and Amanda Lyons. These are not the boring one-note chickpea fritters I have had elsewhere (including the French and Moroccan versions I have had about town.) These batons are made with both chickpea flour cooked down w/ milk; chopped cooked chickpeas, sweated onions and spices that chirp 'Cumin' in my grinning mouth. They're served with a date compote and they have me thinking a lot of Indian pakoras and their tamarind date sweet sauce(but better!)
Also of note were the Sole agro dolce, Saffron arancini with tomato concasse, and the Glazed Pork belly served over spicy tangy slivered cabbage sautee.
The tuna carpaccio with lemon zest, sea salt, cracked fennel seed and evoo- was a lovely bright touch of spring. Along with the chickpea fritters, my 'to die for/ have to come back for a full portion tomorrow night' dish was the beautifully tender house made Ravioli filled with a noteworthy ricotta and parm, and tossed w/ fresh peas, artichoke hearts, mint and parm. I ordered this because of the unbelievable version of this dish at Providence's Gatehouse years ago, but this one was (oh my!) even better. Actual house prepared baby artichoke hearts too; all for only $11 for a filling half portion! Apparently the spring menu is about to become a new summer menu so I'm making sure to return before those particular ravs disappear.
Desserts were equally successful in variety and execution.The panna cotta with lemon and blueberries and the toffee cake were both big hits. Re: bevs,my Love was o.k. with his 'Super Tuscan' red wine selection; my Cosmo was generous, well balanced and lovely.
A brief chat with the Hollywood-handsome , friendly exuberant chef revealed that he hails from Peabody, of Portuguese and Brazilian parents, and went through the highly regarded Roberta Dowling's Cambridge School of Culinary Arts tutelage in the first years of the new millenium .He owns 62 on Wharf with his wife and 2 little girls. I am just amazed that he has the energy to make all of everything himself, but that's talent and youth for you. (Most seasoned chefs stop at bread and desserts.)According to my No.Shore friends, word is really spreading about this place. As an alternate to the other terrific No.Shore culinary spot, Beverly's Tryst, 62 On Wharf is a much more attractive and comfortable space, with cushioned chairs and banquettes; still casual but not bare-bones bistro-appointed like Tryst. And a lot more quiet. 62 on Wharf is very active in the community and their Tues. and Wed. $28 prix fixe 'Neighborhood Nights' are a big hit, as they should be. So start going now before you have to wait a few wks. for a reservation!
Sixty2 on Wharf
62 Wharf Street, Salem, MA 01970