I was really honored to host the first Mystery Meet Boston dinner for the year, and I was psyched when I found out that we were having it at Rialto. It was going to be an early birthday celebration for me, and what better way to celebrate than enjoy my favorite cuisine at one of the city’s best restaurants?
It was also perfect that it was in Harvard Square, which I don’t think gets enough credit for its wonderful food and chefs. And speaking of chefs, it was really nice having Jody Adams stop by talk to the guests. She was very friendly and made everyone feel welcome. With the regional tasting menu and wine pairings we had, that was just the icing on the cake.
Rialto has a regional approach to cuisine and this month it’s the Piedmont and Val D’aosta region of Italy. We had a special four-course menu – if you are interested (and I highly recommend it), some of the items are still available at Rialto’s dinner, bar, and tasting menus.
First course: Family Style Grilled Shellfish Platter
Beth said it perfectly when she declared, “I could make a meal out of this dish.”
And she’s right. Even though I didn’t try the oysters, I absolutely loved the grilled shrimp, andouille sausage, and toasted garlic bread. I’ve had that same dish on a different night and it came with grilled squid and chorizo. These are mouth-watering combinations and our whole table agreed, as we ate each and every piece.
There were wine pairings for the night, and the first wine of the evening was my favorite: Napolini Bianco dei Monti. (No, I don’t just like it because of the name!) This was a light, refreshing wine, and I may have gulped it down too quickly because I was offered a second glass by our server (you can guess if I accepted it or not).
Second Course: Shaved Fennel
If you’re thinking what I’m thinking… no, that is not bacon on top. I’m pretty sure it was a crispy beet chip, and I wanted more of it. The salad had mushrooms, chestnuts, pomegranate, toma, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I had no idea what toma is, except that it means “to drink” in Spanish. It turns out that it is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the Aosta valley.
Before our third course, we were served our second wine for the evening: Villa Donna Barbera di Monferato. This ruby red wine is full bodied and has a slight fruitiness. It paired very nicely with our entree.
Entree: Squab and Pork Sausage
I really liked how homey this dish tasted. I feel like some people are intimidated by the elegance of Rialto, but once you get there, the entire place is pretty low-key, and the staff are really superb in making guests feel at ease. They are also very accommodating to guests with allergies. During this Mystery Meet dinner, my friend Russ, who doesn’t eat pork, was asked if he would like some chicken instead. And even I was given an extra little salad during the first course, in lieu of my oyster allergy (little did they know that I already ate more than my share of andouille sausage and garlic bread…).
Our third and last wine was Brachetto D’Acqui. Brachetto grapes are native to the region of Piedmont, and it made for some really good sparkling wine.
Dessert: Piedmont Sweets (Gianduja, hazelnut, espresso, meringue, Meyer lemon puree)
It’s hard to choose a favorite course, but I’d have to go with… (surprise!) the chocolate-based dessert. I loved the pairing of giandujua and Meyer lemon puree, and I also like that I was able to make a wish on my birthday candle It was such a sweet way to end the night.
I had a blast dining with fellow foodies last week. It was nice seeing some friends and meeting new ones, too. Thank you so much to everyone who attended Mystery Meet at Rialto, to Seth for letting me host another dinner, to Jacki (Rialto’s PR Manager) who was terrific at handling all the details, and of course to Chef Jody Adams!