Had another lovely meal at the Grotto tonight. That garlic soup was kicking (a little cheesy, a little pesto-y, a lot of sauteed and toasted garlic flavors), and the arugula salad is the kind I wish I could make at home: lovely balance of greens and blue cheese and fruit, perfectly (which is to say not overly) dressed.
The kitchen honors an off-menu request for a half-order only of the gnocchi with short ribs: how does anyone finish a whole of this dish? Shockingly rich, concentrated flavors in the sauce. Cavatelli with sausage and mushrooms is likewise beautiful, and too big by half.
Two excellent desserts: the blueberry-lemon chiffon-like cake number, with what was either citrus-flavored real whipped cream, or perhaps a lovely, fluffy creme fraiche, and the banana bread pudding with extraordinary maple ice cream. A lovely $30 Puglian red, and the check came to about $90 before tip, a real bargain in our book.
Terrific, deadpan service on a night where the room seemed like a casting call for a Fellini film set on Beacon Hill: a roomful of well-to-do basket cases all around us, seemingly wearing their dysfunctions on their sleeves. I only mention this to laud the aplomb with which our server handled our section. In his shoes, I would have headed for the hills. I've dined here a few times before, but never seen the collection of normal-looking, scarily-conversing freaks that surrounded us tonight. Very odd.
On another note, the Beacon Hill Bistro is open again after a blizzard-damage-related closure. It now has a tiny bar (seating maybe 15 people), staffed by someone who really knows how to make proper cocktails. We had a pre-dinner drink here, and the closeness encouraged some interesting conversations. One local said this is the first new liquor license (up from the BHB's original beer/wine/cordial one) that has been awarded on Beacon Hill in about forty years. I certainly love the food and wine here; it's a plus to be able to get a well-made drink here first as well.