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Via Matta dinner

pastrytroll | Mar 23, 2003 04:19 PM

Last night, for my husband's birthday, three of us had an early dinner at Via Matta. Early was good: the place was packed when we finished. Appetizers were in the $9-$15 range, entrees went from ~16 for pasta through $42 for steak, and side dishes of vegetables were also available. We worried about being over-stuffed, so went with an app, entree, and dessert.

In the interests of objectivity, I should say that I work in the kitchen at VM, until Great Bay opens in the Hotel Commonwealth - but Saturday nights are so busy, I don't believe we got special service - just a very comfortable level of good service. After the first course Chef Luis Morales did send up some fresh ricotta raviolis, with a very fresh, perfect quick saute of grape tomatoes, resh basil, pancetta and ricotta salata - so full of fresh flavor it tasted like summer!

My son had the spicy calamari to start - and did NOT share! He said it was different than other calamari he had had (read not fried?) and he scraped the bowl clean. My husband had the vegetable antipasto, and liked everything: the roasted asparagus, the giant lima beans, the garbanzos - lots of other tastes of vegetable, even carrots. I ordered the chicken liver crostini - mostly because I don't like chicken liver. When I raised chickens in VT, the livers always went to the barn cats, who didn't seem to like chicken liver that much either. These were fantastic. A perfect, creamy texture I didn't know was possible, and a wonderful sauce that I mopped up with bread. I'd stop in just to order this one dish.

The we had lamb shanks, tender and flavorful; a thick fillet of swordfish, with capers, more of the big Peruvian lima beans; and mushroom cannelini, with a cheese sauce that picked up and expanded the clear mushroom flavor.

Then we got an assortment of desserts. The chocolate bonet: cocoa, cinnamon, and bayleaves in a custard served on a pecan dacquiose with orange zest and caramel was the winner - Great texture - silky, but not pudding or custard - stuffed heck, we wished we'd ordered two bonets. The zabaglione is an extremely good version of tiramisu: good, strong expresso, chocolate cream, chocolate ladyfingers, and mascarpone mousse, and the fresh ricotta cheesecake in a polenta crust - not too sweet, topped with apricots, figs, dried cherries, almonds and walnuts. Add on an assortment of cookies: good chocolate dipped mocah, sambucca chocolate, wedding cookies, polenta, freshly made chocolate-dipped nougat, and biscotti - and we were indeed stuffed.

We'll be back for the reasonably priced, very fresh full flavors - but probably for lunch or a weeknight - this place is getting very popular.

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