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Boston Area

first visit to Nebo

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Restaurants & Bars

first visit to Nebo

MC Slim JB | Jun 26, 2005 11:30 AM

I'm often curious about places along N. Washington St, which seems a sort of backwater of the North End. Who dines at Amici and Sabatino's, anyway? They don't appear on Chowhound or even in Zagat, yet seem to have been operating for years. The Nebo space has changed hands a lot lately. We finally get by for a visit.

The place has a fair amount of business at its long, full bar, almost none in the dining room. An enoteca that serves booze begs the question: can they make a proper cocktail? The answer is, mercifully, yes: these $8 drinks are properly made with real care, even proper garnishes. A first test passed.

We sit down for dinner and peruse the offerings. No entrees, nearly 20 small plates, just shy of ten versions of bruschetta, a dozen or more pizzas of the gourmet variety, with lots of exotic toppings to choose from.

We try a couple of small plates: polpetti (made with veal, I believe) in marinara, and a small salumi misto with prosciutto di Parma, spicy-hot capicola, a hard cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, maybe?), slices of a dry sausage, and bresaola. The meatballs, five golfball-sized ones, are delicious, and we mop up the gravy with the chunks of Tuscan bread provided.

The salumi plate offers good but not extraordinary cold cuts; the capicola has real bite, and is our clear favorite. I would have preferred the cheese thinly sliced instead of in hunks. I think these cheeses are like sushi, and benefit from careful knife-work. Most of the small plates are near $10.

In the enoteca spirit, we bypass the extensive list of bottles (many fairly priced ones, I'm happy to see) in favor of quartini, six-ounce pours served in baby carafes. These also cluster around $10, and we try four to share: a Montepulciano, a Barbera D'Alba, a Salice Salentino, and a Valpolicella. Only the Salice fails to impress; I suspect that maybe it hasn't been well-cared-for, perhaps recorked from the night before without VacuVin-ing.

We then try a pizza, which comes with what appear to be balsamic-marinated figs, prosciutto di Parma again, and Gorgonzola. This is maybe an 11" pie for $17, and features a thinnish but not ultra-thin crust. Pretty tasty, though the crust doesn't have the nice bubble structure or wood-oven flavor I appreciate at places like Emma's and Picco. I think it would benefit from more Gorgonzola. Oddly, the prosciutto is laid on top of the pizza after it has been sliced; we have to ask for a knife to cut it ourselves.

Pleasant, attentive service, and a check that pre-tip comes to about $95, $55 of it cocktails and wine. We'll definitely come back (the dining room has a cool, modern feel, done in tones of vanilla and mocha and brown) to try some more of those small plates, maybe a bruschetta instead of a pizza next time.

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