Seven of us celebrated a dear friend's birthday at Bricco. More apps and shared pastas than entrees, all really fine. Highlights among what I tasted: potato gnocchi with duck confit, a simple linguini with a perfect fresh tomato sauce, zucchini flowers stuffed with a mild cheese and deep-fried (expert, light deep frying, almost like a savory Krispy Kreme), a spectacular eggplant mousse with little yellow and red tomatoes, about ten different flavors going on in a seemingly simple dish), a vertical-looking roast veal entree with a beautiful grilled crust.
Pastas (including gnocchis and risotti) are essential items to order here: they make it easy by offering halfs of just about everything except the timpano (inspired by Big Night, and worth trying once, but less extraordinary than most).
Lovely bread with a garlicky white-bean spread to start, fine bread pudding at the end (though not quite up to the gold standard of the late South End Galleria's white-chocolate version), a complimentary amusee of tuna tartare with two killer sauces, one aoili-ish, the other a sesame oil/chilli combo) that had us all mmm-hmming, and gratis homemade limoncellos at the end. Fine espressos, too.
Minuses: a bartender who couldn't quite bring himself to make a proper Negroni (a simple strained cocktail that seems to baffle many otherwise competent mixologists, a mystery), and an all-Italian wine list that could stand a few more sturdy, workaday bottles under $60. The best of several reds was the Nozzole Chianti for $42.
Service was once again up to the extremely high standard we have come to expect here. (Tip: ask to be seated in Doug's section.) It's a busy, noisy, slightly close dining room, which suited a big, talkative party in a celebratory mood. Tab came to about $60 a head not including wine. Toward the end of the meal, more than one of us, myself included, cited this place as among our very favorites in town in this price range, though prices, especially on entrees, seem to have crept up about 20% from a year ago.
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