It was a hot Sunday afternoon, with the scorching summer heat blasting down on us, making us sweat after just a few steps. But luckily, as the day went on, a gentle breeze started to cool us down. The bright blue sky made us feel calm. And we were able to enjoy a nice, light dinner at Rialto’s patio – a summery dinner filled with fresh flavors and delicious plates to share.
A couple of weekends ago my friends and I got together to visit Jody Adams‘ landmark restaurant in Harvard Square. I don’t go to Rialto often because I find it a little too expensive. If I do go there, I opt for the bar menu which is much more affordable. For our last dinner though, we shared a bunch of plates for our group of five, which was more economical and also let us try more dishes.
I’m not a big beer drinker but I do like limoncello a lot. This shandy was light and refreshing but it wasn’t as cold as I had hoped for.
The last time I had cod cheeks was at Craigie on Main and it was as luscious as I remember it to be: soft, buttery, and rich.
The burrata was stuffed with a spiced anchovy mixture and served with pickled eggplant. It was good, but it was… tiny! I am spoiled by the full, gorgeous balls of burrata from other restaurants like Alma Nove and Oleana. My dining companions commented on the small portions overall too. I understand that we’re not eating at the Cheesecake Factory; we certainly weren’t expecting massive amounts of Italian food ala Maggiano’s. We know that Rialto is, in fact, an upscale Italian restaurant. But I’ve dined at plenty other high end restaurants with substantial appetizer portions. I’m not saying that we didn’t have enough food – we had plenty, for sure, (actually we had more than enough). But our whole dinner was a splurge-y meal for all for us, so ordered much more than we normally would. If you’re just going to Rialto for a casual dinner, I suggest skipping the starters altogether and just ordering more sides with your meals, which were all phenomenal.
Next time I would make a meal out of these sides – they were all so simple and yet impeccably prepared. I actually think that Rialto shines the most with these sides. My friends got a couple of half orders of pasta (orecchiette with housemade sausage and lobster bucatini) and I tried them too but for me, the highlight of our meal was the side dishes.
I like the idea of roast duck as sandwich meat, especially when it comes with melted gruyere cheese and hand-cut potato chips. It was pretty good, but I wasn’t as impressed with the sandwich than I was with the side dishes.
We ordered two desserts to split between the table, and the chef sent us an extra one!
The food at Rialto was undeniably good. As I mentioned above, I think it is a little overpriced, especially because the portions are small – but if you just order a few side dishes and get something from the bar, you’ll end up with a reasonably-priced meal that highlights local ingredients and fresh seasonal flavors. And if you can come early for dinner, try to snag a seat at the patio for a more summer-time feel.
Do you ever make a meal out of sides or appetizers?