I always feel a meal starts off right when I am genuinely greeted with a warm welcome when I enter a restaurant. I recently met a friend for lunch at Tomasso Trattoria and Enoteca and it began perfectly with such a welcome. I know that it is tempting for restaurants to do without a host or hostess at lunch, and I truly appreciate when this first impression is not overlooked.
I have been to Tomasso four times in the last year or so, and each time I love it more than the last. I have an ongoing love affair with all things Italian, and my favorite trip of all time was to Rome, Tuscany and Florence. Walking past the open kitchen of Tomasso and smelling the aromas escaping from it, I was transported back to the wonderful trattorias and osterias of Italy.
The dining room is rich and warm with reds and Italian artwork. We were seated at a nice table and greeted promptly by our server. All guests are given water in funky recycled bottles which is a testament to the restaurant’s authenticity, as they do the same thing in Italy. I always enjoy having a carafe of water on my table rather than having to ask for two or three glasses during my meal. We requested sparkling water which is served in the same bottles, and refilled without asking when it got low.
I love to start a meal with a fresh salad, and arugula is my favorite green. I ordered the Insalata Verde which was arugula with shaved red onion and Tuscan pecorino. It had a simple dressing of tasty olive oil, as well as little nips of other herbs mixed in with the arugula. These little tastes provided a nice surprise to my taste buds. My companion started with the Burrata, a small plate of the best handmade mozzarella I have ever tasted, complimented by orange wedges and a few fresh olives. Guests are also given fresh baked bread accompanied by a carafe of olive oil and a salt cellar; another nice European touch.
I was heartbroken that at this particular lunch we had to forgo having a glass of wine with our meal, but on previous visits to Tomasso I enjoyed their selection of Super Tuscans and other carefully chosen Italian wines.
For my second course, I had to go with the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Though I am a fairly good cook, Bolognese is one recipe that has eluded me for years. I’ve never been sure whether I didn’t use enough bay leaves, or didn’t cook it long enough, but I have resigned to enjoy it in a trattoria just like this rather than continuing my futile attempt to make it at home. Tomasso’s version did not disappoint. It is served over freshly made tagliatelle, a thick ribbon pasta, and perfect to hold the meaty sauce. My friend enjoyed the Merluzzo, a simple preparation of broiled cod served on a bed of herbed lentils .
No Italian meal would be complete without a cappuccino, and for me, a slice of tiramisu. Tomasso’s version is artistic, as it is not a slice at all. Each order is a handmade creation of layered espresso-soaked lady fingers, custard, and cocoa powder. My companion indulged in the Mousse al Giandua – a chocolate and hazelnut mousse served in a champagne glass. Both desserts were absolutely delightful. Cappuccino is served with small ramekins of chocolate chips and brown sugar which makes it even more of a treat.
The first time I went to Tomasso was just before my trip to Italy four years ago. Tom and Mary Prince, the owners, were gracious enough to engage in conversation about their love of Italy, as well as give me some suggestions for wineries and restaurants to visit. Their love of Italy shows in their choices of food and wine, their careful preparation and use of local ingredients, as well as the atmosphere of Tomasso. Around the corner, you can find Panzano Provviste Vino, a Tuscan Market and Wine Shop. When my husband and I want to bring a bit of Italy into our own kitchen, we go to Panzano and order a selection of their imported meats and cheeses and make an amazing antipasto. The Proscuitto di Parma literally melts in your mouth. Add a bottle of carefully selected Italian red wine and a loaf of their homemade Ciabatta bread, and we’re back in Tuscany once again!
Tomasso has received many accolades since opening in 2005, including Best of Boston, Wine Enthusiast’s Award of Unique Distinction, and Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence – all several times. They have also been recognized by Yankee Magazine, The Phantom Gourmet and The Boston Globe, among others. But this is not the reason that I hope you will eat at Tomasso soon. The reason I hope you will eat at Tomasso soon is because everyone deserves to enjoy a trip to Italy, even if it’s just for 2 hours.
Submitted by Michelle Taupier