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Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

MFA Cafe and Antico Forno

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MFA Cafe and Antico Forno

MC Slim JB | May 7, 2004 12:00 AM

A very creditable cheese plate and glass of Shiraz help pleasantly kill 45 minutes before an MFA movie: an excellent piave, a passable Brie, another soft, creamy number whose name I don't remember, good purple grapes, a slightly overripe giant strawberry, a thin-sliced Granny Smith apple, and a couple of slices of good French bread (not toast points, not toasted brioche, not toasted anything, thank you). $20, plus plus. I like the vin-ordinaire touch of serving the red in a thick tumbler. A perfect, light late-afternoon supper for one, and it could have fed two.

After the film, Antico Forno proves another crowd pleaser for out-of-town visitors. Dead-empty at 8pm. Out of rabbit again, twice in a row now, bummer. I go for the one dish left I haven't yet tried, the riso, which is basically a baked, fat-grain rice (not Arborio: maybe Carnaroli?) with four lovely golf-ball-size polpettini, fresh peas, wild mushrooms, and a melty, creamy puck of cheese (ricotta? Marscapone?). I'm lucky to get through a third of this rich, wood-oven-smoky little number.

Other winners include the grilled lamb, grilled chicken (not the tomato-y one), grilled swordfish, and potato gnocchi (also too rich to get even halfway through). Lovely involtini of grilled eggplant app, too. Not counting wine, five people are overfed and happy for $100. I love this place. The Fernet Branca and espresso at Vittoria afterward are not just fillips, but essential.

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