Lucia Ristorante for awhile, as I pass it fairly often in Winchester Center. So I quickly accepted the invitation to sample their new menu at a recent event, focusing on seafood dishes based on family recipes from Abruzzo, Italy. I was glad I did, for it was a fun evening full of great food, lively conversation and warm hospitality.
We started by mingling while enjoying some passed brushcette. I might have resisted trying all three types--wild mushroom (my favorite), artichoke, and broccoli rapi--had I know how much food was to follow...oh well, let's say I did it as a service to Cooking Chat readers! I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the fried Duxbury oysters. I'm not usually a big oyster fan, but they way they were prepared with peach and roasted garlic aioli made them very tasty indeed.
I joined a table comprised of fellow food bloggers and some long-time patrons of the restaurant. The primi course featured three seafood dishes. I especially liked the fried soft shell crab with heirloom tomato salad and the tuna crudo. I was impressed when Rob Merlino, a.k.a. Hot Dog Man, picked up fennel on the tuna dish, I didn't notice at first but saw what he meant when I re-tasted it. The chef came out and explained that it was fennel pollen used in the dish.
Clearly highlighting the good food on the new menu was the point of this dinner. But given my interests I do need to say a word or two about the wine. I started with a glass of pinot grigio with the appetizers, which was refreshing and pleasant, if unremarkable. I was quite surprised though when I saw a California cab served with meal. Though it was a good quality wine, Italy has so many good options to pick up the acidity in the tomatoes found in several dishes. I mentioned this to the server and she quickly brought me a glass of Chianti. That was more like it!
In addition to the good food, it was fun spending an evening chatting with some fellow food bloggers, unabashedly snapping dozens of photos of each course. Much sympathy was shared about the challenges of taking good photos in dimly lit restaurants, though I noted my colleagues had some interesting solutions for that. Two of my fellow bloggers were quicker to press than I was, check out Boston Food Fan and Hot Dog Stories for more info and great photos.
The fun evening was capped off with one of the guests booming out several Italian classics as we nibbled on some dessert that no one had room for! He performs there each Friday night. For some good Italian food with some creative twists, Lucia Ristorante is worth a visit!