REVIEW: Tresca

233 Hanover Street
North End,Boston

Bar & Lounge
Mon – Fri 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Sat – Sun 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Dining Room
Mon – Fri 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Sat – Sun 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
by Damien DiPaola
Courtesy of Scene Magazine
“Intrigue” as defined by Daniel Webster; to arouse the curiosity or interest of by unusual, new, or otherwise fascinating or compelling qualities; appeal strongly to; captivate. Tresca is definitely Intriguing. Right off the bat I was lured in by the warm décor, the Italian country ambiance, and the homemade onion focaccia, hand-rolled peppery and salty breadsticks, and an unrivaled rustic, airy, and crusty ciabatta. Welcome to Tresca.

I really love to try and taste as many of the truly “intriguing” dishes on any menu. Tresca offers a well planned and balanced menu that facilitates either sharing many appetizers and pasta’s, or sitting through a luxurious 4 course dinner with wine pairings. General Manager, wine expert, and face of the place, Massimo Tiberi will assist you on finding the perfect wine to pair with your meal. Massimo trained in hospitality and as a Sommelier in Italy. Besides running the day to day operations, he also consults on the menu with Chef Jason Tucker. Massimo’s knowledge and expertise in all that is Italian, is the driving force behind Tresca. Let’s talk about the food.

A well seasoned, tender, and moist Filetto Piccolo, a 5 oz. bone-in filet mignon, came with a lightly dressed, very fresh arugala salad. It really satisfied a meat craving, but as an appetizer left plenty for more. Capesante are extra large fresh diver scallops, firm, nutty, and pure in taste. The cider and balsamic glaze combined with a “butternut, potato” risotto, made the dish multi layered and harmonious. Crostata di Aragosta, is a buttery tart with savory rows of spinach, watercress, sorrel, besciamel sauce and mouthfuls of succulent lobster meat. Decadent, rich, and very sinful, the lobster tart was satisfying like dessert. Gamberoni Veneziane is a preparation that has been overdone in many restaurants, shrimp ragu with beans. Tresca stays true to tradition serving firm and “snap” to the bite jumbo shrimp in a creamy, smooth, and soothing, garlicky and herby white bean ragu.

Next course for any self respecting Italiano is, of course, the pasta. Ravioli di Casa, made in house, filled with woodsy chantrelle mushroom and ricotta. This dish took me back to La Sila, in Calabria. Imagine the provisions from a harmonious country setting that go into making this dish. The pig for the pancetta, the corn from the fields, the ricotta from the cows, the mushrooms from the forest, the wheat from the fields, the eggs from the chickens; all these ingredients from the culinary eco-system. I sensed that this aspect of the restaurant is also interpreted through it’s rustic decor, and deep country style comfort, using soothing colors, warm lighting, and deep earthy tones. Equally as deep and as rich in tradition is a skilled kitchen that maintains the basics as the foundation of the preparation and finality of the food. The chef, Jason Tucker, has taken the task of producing deep and soulful Italian food while maintaining deep traditions. Unlike most chefs that try to stick to a culinary backbone, he hasn’t over done and exaggerated popular regional dishes to make them solely “his” creation. His training and chef positions throughout the years have always involved the “Italian” element. I applaud the way the flavors maintain their individuality and equally complement all the other flavors. One night a special house made fresh porcini flavored tagliatelle pasta in a pleasurable and minimalist porcini broth was welcome and comforting on a cold evening. The generous shavings of black truffles from Alba were a steady reminder of where Tresca is going, it’s direction. The “sink your teeth into” Tagliatelle Bolognese is on my top five Bolognese sauces in Boston. This rich and chewy sauce with veal, pork, and beef, hint of garlic and a subtle sweet anise flavor resonated of earth and soul. Once again those two words keep coming up, earth and soul.

The Main Courses are equally as good and varied as the rest of the menu. The eighteen ounce Delmonico steak was served juicy and succulent on the bone. The gorgonzola reduction accessorized the meat stylishly, not too flashy. Whipped potato was simple, clean and sweet, not over bearing. Cioppini Amalfi, in a delicate and well seasoned saffron and tomato broth was chock full of well cooked fresh lobster, shrimp, clams, and mussels. Agnello Sardo, joyously seasoned Aussie-American rack of lamb with a dainty and herbaceous green puree was top notch. The very tasty pecorino cheese and polenta dumplings once again showed a knack of conscientious and precise pairing of contorno. You won’t leave any meat behind, I gnawed on the bones. A hearty and stick to the ribs Brasato di Manzo, melt in your mouth beef short ribs braised in a Nebbiolo wine with a smooth and creamy polenta was another “hit the spot” dish. The sauce was deep crimson in color and deeply layered in flavor, and the crispy parsnips gave the dish a sharp, contrasting edge. An old style, Italian-American favorite are the succulent and sweet tasting Pork Chops with sharp and tangy vinegar peppers and lightly truffled rustic potatoes. Tresca’s preparation is a notch above the rest. The Chef uses Hatfield pork which is known for their high standards of feeding and raising their animals.

Dessert at Tresca is on the level of the food, home-made and traditional. The Pistachio Nougat Tiramisu was rich, fluffy, sweet, and creamy. Sogno Cioccolato, a molten chocolate “dream” has a heavenly and gooey ganache center. Tresca’s version of bread pudding is it’s chestnut milk and Chocolate Panettone Pudding, which yielded impressive results. The texture and the sweet combinations of the raisins and the chestnut milk once again brought us to the earthy and soulful aspects of this stylish, fresh, and steeped in tradition, new member of the North End family. Welcome to Little Italy.

Tresca’s Web site.