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Restaurants & Bars

Monica makes magic

Tom Stebbins | Mar 13, 200003:28 PM     1

At the urgings of Monica herself, I visited "Monica's" restaurant over the weekend. It's a bit fancy for chowhounds, but we've been talking about supa fancy joints like Truc and Biba, so I'll share my experience at a ~$17 a plate place.

I met Monica at her Salumeria, right across the street from my apartment on Salem. She also owns a pizzeria across the way on Prince St. and the restaurant on Richmond. Before I even had a chance to look around her salumeria, Monica had me gnawing on a free sample of homemade salami, an excellent way to make friends with a chowhound. The Salami was excellent, as are most of her ready-made dishes, but expect to pay yuppie prices. Don't expect traditional Italian, as Monica hails from Argentina and has managed to fuse together her culinary roots with the deep Italian roots of the North End, thereby creating a truly unique cuisine that is remarkable. Unfortuately, her flair does not translate to the realm of pizza very well. The first and only pizza I had from her pizzeria was too bready, dry, short on toppings and cost over $10. But I am not writing to tell you about her pizza, I am writing to tell you about her FOOD.

Imagine Italian food where the sweetness of the tomato is subtly replaced with the zest of a red pepper. I think. All of the dishes had a particular zing that complimented the tomato, perhaps it is that she does not rely as heavily on the sweet roma tomato and opts for a less sweet variation, I don't know. But whatever it is, it's good. Really good.

We started with the mussels appetizer: a huge bowl of fresh mussels soaked in a zesty, somewhat vinigary red sauce. It was the highlight of the meal and we soaked up all of the sauce with some fantastic bread. The bread came to the table with an herbed olive puree, which was one of the more imaginative 'bread dips' I've had in a long time---the last memorable one was actually nothing more than pureed brucetta tomatoes.

Well, I must be off, for now. I'll include the rest of the meal soon...

take care, chowhounds

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