On the way to dropping the spouse off at the airport today, we had lunch at Zafferano, in East Boston. The place has a great casual elegant European Italian ambiance with tile floors, linen tablecloths and napkins, and classy Italian music playing in the background. Spouse is on her way to a Swiss high school reunion, and since the trip is a long one and airplane food is generally horrible these days, we ordered more at lunch than we would under ordinary circumstances. We started off with a bowl of minestrone soup, a very carefully prepared vegetable broth, with a delicate balance of flavors and textures, no mushy overcooked veggies, pasta, or beans in this one. The second starter was an excellent bowl of plump mussels in a light herb and lemon broth. We got carried away on the veggie front and ordered a side of grilled vegetables and a side of roasted asparagus. The roasted veggies included a tight small bunch of Belgian endive, a thin slice of eggplant, a thin slice of young zucchini, and section of young fennel roasted individually and drizzled with olive oil. We then split an order of very well prepared delicate gnocchi and a field green salad and drank a couple of serviceable glasses of Chianti.
The place seems to be owned by a husband and wife team. The husband is in the kitchen and the wife is the pastry chef and at lunch she was our waitress. We asked her to pick two desserts, and as a result we got tiramisu and really nice piece of freshly baked raspberry tart. To be honest, I have become somewhat leery of tiramisu because Im not fond of very sweet, very rich, or cloying desserts. This one, however, was dynamite, a chocolate dusting over a subtle and complex core, nice texture, great flavors, yum.
Prices at lunch for food of this quality are a give away. For example, $10 for the mussels, $9 for the gnocchi, $4 each for the generous veggie sides. We are definitely going back for dinner. Originally I thought, this place was worth a shot since it is so close to the airport and one can easily park around there. Now, I realize it is definitely worth a special trip. Zafferano is not yet widely discovered but certainly deserves to be based on our sampling.