Assignment submitted 14 November 2017.
A trip to a grandiose theater like the Boston Opera House is beautifully preceded with dinner at Salvatore’s, an upscale Italian eatery in the heart of the Theater District. Our party of six was warmly greeted by host staff upon entry, and efficiently escorted to a table. Immediately after, our waiter arrived to pour iced water for each of us and informed us of dinner and drink specials for the evening.
The complimentary bread basket left us optimistic, as a menagerie of grain, such as sourdough and rye, was paired perfectly with olive oil and seasonings. No wonder the establishment’s tagline is “authentic Italiano.” For fussier diners, butter is available upon request for your bread, though I feel this hinders the experience.
For drinks, the wine list is exhaustive, as expected in any Italian eatery. Frankly, I don’t enjoy it enough to excuse even the cheapest option, a Pinot Grigio of Morassuti, at $7 per glass, or $20 per bottle. To me, this alone is an excessive commodity. The priciest option, though, is the Barbaresco of Balbi Soprani, Piedmont, marked at $57 and only available by the bottle. Naturally, I opt for a ginger ale.
Similarly, my sister desired veal saltimbocca, paired with green beans and herbed potato, though was wary of making a selection priced at $25, so she settles for the same dish with a different protein, chicken, priced at a reasonable $20. It was much to her satisfaction. The white wine glaze had the tang and pungency that is expected of any saltimbocca, and is paired well with the prosciutto and provolone that garnishes it. Though we have become accustom to saltimbocca atop a bed of linguine with the green beans mixed in, the presentation of such dish in this fashion is a refreshing change.
As for my own order, I was tempted in three directions: the baked macaroni and cheese ($18): “Spanish chorizo, tortellini, alfredo, parmigiano & mozzarella, [and] toasted crumbs,” the chicken broccoli alfredo ($19): “all-natural chicken, imported pasta, broccoli florets [tossed in] alfredo sauce,” and butternut squash ravioli ($20): “roasted butternut, fig, [tossed in] gorgonzola cream sauce.” The last dish sounds unlike any other Italian meal I have consumed habitually in the past, as opposed to the first two, so I opt for this.
Our meal arrived not long after completion of the bread basket and our appetizer, the calamari fritti ($12), fried squid and banana peppers with a pesto tartar sauce. We were delighted with the quality of the app, as the breading encases the protein in a way that is thorough, though not smothering. As with any fried food, it can be difficult to achieve the balance between slimy stinginess and a coating that parches all sufficient qualities that make the object of frialation worthwhile. As such, the calamari is not fried beyond recognition.
Dinner promptly greets us after our appetizer dishes are cleared. We begin our meals leisurely and the waiter asks again if we desire a refill of our water or selected beverage. I am very pleased with my selection. The gorgonzola provides a terrific contrast to the sweetness achieved through the butternut squash and fig. The menu didn’t indicate this as a seasonal item, though it’s perfect for a comfortable, brisk October evening such as this one. The assembly of these ingredients is incredibly well-executed, and presentation proved enticing.
One aspect to justify the higher tier in pricing are the portions. Salvatore’s is very considerate and generous in this respect, and my aunt even suspected this, insisting she share the chicken parmesan ($20) with my cousin. (Nota bene: this cousin has celiac’s disease and other allergies to nuts and fish. In concern to her celiac’s, Salvatore’s does provide an alternate, gluten-free menu, so her dish was a recipe alteration that fared just as well as the presence of semolina.)
Naturally, however, we did have leftovers, which on one hand, left us enthused for tomorrow’s lunch, but on another, agitated that we had to lug mini-boxes enrobed in plastic bags into the Opera House and on the walk back to Downtown Crossing at dinner’s conclusion. I, however, was the sole diner who finished her meal, partly because of my thorough satisfaction of it and my reluctance to carry another parcel in addition to my purse and Playbill.
Still, staff are incredibly accommodating in allowing guests to exit the restaurant in time for the show next door. Never did we feel we were being pushed out, but saw these instances as a gentle reminder in consideration of our schedule.
We left feeling replenished and took a brief stride into the Opera House to enjoy Phantom of the Opera. And I digress at that, for the play itself is subject to a separate review.