To say that I am a fan of the Sowa Sunday’s held in Boston’s South End would be an extreme understatement. For years, dating back to the single parking lot enveloping model, I would spend my Sundays searching through artisan candles made of organic kelp or rustic antique armoires that I would never be able to afford, while slinging back a Green Munster or two from Roxy’s Grilled Cheese Truck. As the years progressed and the South End started to boom, new restaurants began emerging from the deep dark basements and first floors of the artists lofts and warehouses that line Harrison Ave. One of those restaurants risen from the depths is Roman Trattoria Cinquecento.
I didn’t make it easy for the fine people at Cinquecento for my first visit there; not only was it Christmas Eve, but I also came with my two year old nephew and notorious soup and half a sandwich guru grandfather. The staff couldn’t be more accommodating and festive for the holiday season with the table runners being adorned in Santa’s hats as well as strung up in lights, which looked highly dangerous and spectacular! With the fussy ones occupied with crayons and an iPhone to aid in viewing the menu in what was an extremely romantically lit room, we set about devouring some appetizers, all consisting of their sinfully delicious ricotta. The first selection simply being grilled bread saddled with a giant bowl of the curdish wonder, while the second a bruschetta of Finocchiona Salami & Pickled Delicata Squash atop ricotta slathered smoky grilled bread. While the first was a mastery of Italian simplicity, the delicate balance of earthy squash, fennel spiked spicy salami, and unctuous ricotta wove a delectable culinary interplay.
Making our way onto the main courses aided by the Negroni Flight which went two for three, a gin spin fell a bit to acidic for my taste, I dove deep into the earthy truffle wonder that was the Fettuccine Al Funghi E Tartufi. The perfectly al dente fettuccine came slathered in a creamy sauce of fresh wild mushrooms and the fungus of the gods, truffles. To rip a page out of Andrew Zimmern’s book, it tasted the way a forest floor should taste.
We ended off the night with a slight whimper as a personal favorite of mine, pistachio gelati, came out over spun and over frozen. The usual creamy texture of a gelati was replaced with thick ice crystals and the pistachio flavor replaced with a bitter almost perfumesque taste. However a big winner was the velvety smooth panna cotta, flecked with vanilla beans and dripping with a light carmel glaze.
Overall I would give Cinquecento a 475 out of 500. The neighborhood, ambiance, and service were all stellar and the food is definitely worth the free parking in the lot usually occupied by farmers tents on Sowa Sundays.