4/10/2013, 8:27 a.m.
Italian cuisine is almost synonymous with the word Boston. In a city rich in Italian immigration history, it’s no surprise to find Italian gastronomy in almost every neighborhood. However, quantity does not always equal quality. The amount of Italian food available makes it harder for quality food to stand out. Fortunately there’s Salvatore’s — one of my favorite Italian hot spots, which I think soon will become one of yours.
Salvatore’s has five locations in Andover, Lawrence, Medford, Boston’s Seaport and the Theater District. I recently visited their Theater District location at 545 Washington St. It’s great to see that Salvatore’s is one of the pioneers in the revitalization of the area.
The area has seen a major facelift, with major neighborhood revitalization projects like the Opera House, Emerson’s Paramount Theater and a condo high-rise currently under construction. Salvatore’s has filled out the block by moving into an old video arcade that had been vacant for several years.
There are no traces of gaming machines here. Instead, the space has gone with an upscale Manhattan dining room feel with contemporary design booths and wooden chairs. Old Italian theater paintings line the walls and hang between large television screens above the bar. The entire restaurant is open concept, so even from the dining area you’re able to view the game. The bar area has tall tables that are conducive to mingling. If you’re not into sports, it can get a little loud, so just don’t plan your anniversary dinner the night of a championship game.
General Manager Elizabeth Murray commented on the revamp of the neighborhood.
“Seeing the Theater District transform and have an identity again is great,” she said. “We’re happy to be a part of that. We of course aim to have guests come here from out of town, and the theater community, but it’s so important for us to have our regulars in the neighborhood [come in] — that means a lot to us.”
Drinks and Bites
To cleanse my palate I started off with the I Heart Ginger. If you really like ginger, this is the perfect drink for you. The combination of Bacardi Oak Heart spiced rum, Domaine de Canton (a French ginger liqueur), fresh lime and lemon juices, agave nectar and ginger beer blend perfectly together to deliver a pleasantly spicy kick.
My absolute favorite drink is their Aperol Spritzer. Not many places carry aperol, but it is an authentic Italian summer drink, though it’s so popular they have it on the menu all year long. It simply consists of aperol, martini presecco, ice cold soda and orange slice. It’s a perfect cocktail blend for a warm summer evening.
In true Italian fashion, I sampled (well, more than sampled in some cases) something from each part of the expansive menu.
Assiagi (Italian-style appetizers)
One of the most popular items in this category is the Arancini Fiorentina — carnaroli risotto balls stuffed with spinach and gorgonzola and served with marinara. They were very crispy and well-presented. Surprisingly, they were not my favorite. The risotto could be a bit softer, but it certainly had a very balanced flavor; the cheese wasn’t overpowering, nor was the spinach.