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Savory Arancini and Sweets at Waltham's New Cafe Brelundi

opinionatedchef | Jun 26, 201501:26 AM

Ever since spending a formative year in Rome in the late '60's, seeing a restaurant review with the word Arancini , or Suppli,has set my heart aflutter. Little did I know back then that my favorite Rosticceria item would take ~45 years to become a common sight on my chosen city's restaurant scene. I first encountered them here c.1970 at the North End's Galleria Umberto Rosticceria. (It's possible that arancini/suppli were on many Boston menus back then, but my student budget did not allow for seated restaurants in general.) Unfortunately, the Umberto ones bore none of the flavor splendor of those I was used to. (I put it down to their inferior cheese and broth and their 'Super Size Me' gross girth , but they certainly have legions of adoring fans.)

Now arancini seem to be a bistro mainstay in Boston. Of those I have sampled here, my favs have been at Il Casale in Belmont ; they have been the only ones to use a flavorful dark stock to make their risotto. What a difference! (The distinctly deep yellow arancini made with (sufficient) saffron can also be noteworthy but I can't remember where I have had them recently. Maybe La Morra?)

After a short Globe piece a few months ago, we finally had the chance yesterday to sample assorted arancini and sweets from the new Waltham bakery/cafe, Brelundi. The available variety this time- included Tomato Ragu; Ham and Cheese, and Spinach and Cheese. Their flavorful fillings are generous and they are quite inexpensive (Smalls are $3@ and about 2.5-3" diameter) but I do wish they didn't cook their risotto to a grain-less mass. But they are certainly filling, and for lunch, I could just barely finish two halves.( FWIW, I halved them and baked them ~ 25 minutes in a 350 degree toaster oven, making for a crunchy exterior and a creamy chewy interior.)

Brelundi does a few rarely-seen sweets, and while they were sold out of their Iris, I did enjoy their Cassatelle, a sugar dusted deep fried 'holeless donut' filled with ricotta, chocolate bits and citrus.I am not usually a fan of bakery cream puffs, and ditto the Brelundi ones (drys shells) but ymmv.

Because they are new and small, and their ambitious web menu is much larger than their actual one, I would recommend phone ordering before making a trip, even for small orders. On this,our first visit, I was hoping to sample many more things, but they didn't have them, so I'm looking forward to watching Brelundi evolve.

Galleria Umberto,
il Casale,
il Casale Lexington,
Brelundi Cafe,
La Morra
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