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Weekend Dinner Hat Trick: Gran Gusto, La Voile, Cafe Polonia

finlero | Mar 31, 2008 09:09 AM

Sometimes the planets just align -- I had a great trio of dinners this weekend:


Gran Gusto

Nothing against the rest of the menu here, but the pizza just leaves everything else in the dust. The margherita was as good as ever, light, bold, fresh.

The big winner tonight, however, was the special starter, a plate of fresh stracciatela. One of the proprietors had returned from Italy with it just a few hours before. Just like burrata, stracciatela is a mozzarella-style buffalo milk cheese, with a creamy liquid center. Served over a small bed of arugula and grape tomatoes, this was a textbook example of Southern Italian simplicity.

The 2001 Rizzo riserva barbaresco was too tannic to enjoy fully yet; I think I'll be going back to their house barbera.


La Voile

I'd become so used to Boston's crop of faux Parisian bistros and brasseries that I'd partly forgotten just how varied, complex, and elegant true French cooking could be. This wasn't French as driving force behind modern international cuisine; this was French as king of ethnic cuisine.

Favorite starter was the cholesterol injection that was the trio of foie gras. The seared and the pate were fine enough, but the brulee was in another class entirely, simultaneously stimulating every part of the palette. Mains were outstanding; my favorite was the sole meuniere, expertly deboned table-side. I read Julia Child's "My Life in France" last year, and recall that this dish was her "gateway drug" to the wonders of French cuisine; I can certainly see why. So delicate, rich, and complex, an amazing dish all around.

Great desserts that were actually worth the calories, superb wines by the glass with all three courses. La Voile may not be the bargain it was when it first opened, but the quality is easily enough that I hope to go back early and often. $200 is a small price to pay for a mini-vacation to country France.


Cafe Polonia

This place had been on my short list for a while. After spending the afternoon outside in chilly weather, it couldn't have been a more perfect fit for dinner.

The kielbasa twists with spicy mustard were both a snappy starter and a nice way to usher in the MLB season. I'm not a pierogi expert, but I really enjoyed the assortment here. And the night's special, an enormous ham- and onion-stuffed potato pancake topped with a fried egg, would make a satisfying meal any time of day.

Desserts were fine if not stellar, an adequate apple crisp and an ok cheesecake with a layer of marmalade. Enjoyable selection of Polish beers; it wasn't until my ears started buzzing during my second half-liter bottle that I realized the alcohol content was north of 7%.

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