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Boston Area

Report on Rialto

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Report on Rialto

peelmeagrape | Mar 12, 2006 08:22 AM

Overall impression: excellent service, comfortable room, nice cocktails and wine, creative but not wacky food prepared with artistry.

Our server could not have been more solicitous or helpful. All our (many) questions were patiently answered, pacing was perfect, plates removed promptly, wine repoured, water glasses refilled, without the feeling like anyone was hovering.

For apps we shared the pork charcuterie special and the fish soup. The charcuterie was fine but ordinary enough that it's not something I'd feel the need to order again. Fish soup was a generous portion and very good. I liked that the spicy rouille and grated Gruyere were served separately so we could mix them in as we wanted and appreciate the distinct flavors as well as the composite. The outstanding part of the meal was the main: pan-seared skate with fresh mint and pomegranate. The cooking technique left the fish with a firmer but not quite crispy outside and soft inside...tricky with such a thin cut, and the mint and pomegranate was light and refreshing. Makes me wonder where else fresh pomegranate might be used to brighten, sweeten and add some crunch to a dish. Dessert was billed as a chocolate semifreddo on a coffee halvah crust. The menu mention of unusually-flavored halvah sold me on it, but it was a bit of a let down. I think the idea of a thin slice of halvah used as a tart crust is genius, but the texture of this halvah was all wrong - too marshmallow-y and not dense enough. Disappointing considering it's the rich, thick mouth-feel and slightly grainy resistance that makes halvah wonderful. Maybe the beignets with vanilla and cherries would have been the way to go.

Drinks were great: I started with a chai mar-tea-ni, which I enjoyed, though it's hard for me to dislike anything sweet with so much creamy liquor. Our server sent over someone more knowledgeable about Rieslings, who cheerfully supplied us with guidance in deciding between the kabinetts. It's rare that I hold up anywhere near my share when I'm splitting a bottle with someone, but I was neck-in-neck with my DC on this: light, sweet but crisp, and even after a cocktail, not giddiness-inducing.

Total was $160 before tip, making it feel like a surprisingly good value. We'll be back.

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