Over the weekend, I had dinner with a few people at the Serene Restaurant in Andover. This was my first time there and I knew little about it. It came recommended by one of my dining companions who had chosen the spot for our dinner.
Serene is owned by Sally Fabian and she was working as the hostess on the night I was there. Their head chef is Carlos Penate. The restaurant is located on the second floor above a Starbuck's though they occupy the third floor as well. The second floor has a long bar, numerous high tables and a smaller dining room in the back. The third floor has another dining area and the restrooms. The second floor has large windows allowing you to look down and out at Main Street. A casual and fun ambiance.
Their wine list is small though diverse with a fair share of Italian wines. Prices seem reasonable, especially on some of their higher end wines where the markup seems low. We began with an Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico ($41), a pleasant and fruity Chianti with hints of chocolate. We ran into a problem though when we tried to order another bottle as that was the last one. I tried to order a few other wines and they did not have those either. They really need to update their wine list, or restock.
Serene is open for both lunch and dinner. For dinner, they have a number of more traditional Italian dishes as well as dishes with only a hint of an Italian flair. Your choices include Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Risotto, Pasta and Dinner Entrees. Most of the Pasta and Dinner Entrees range from $15-$25 so it is reasonably priced.
Before our appetizers came out, we received some fresh dinner rolls with roasted garlic, oil and olives. The bread was very good and it was nice to get all of the accompaniments as well. A very good start.
We began our meal with some Garlic Bread with Cheese ($3.50), a couple Apple, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Salads ($7.50) and the Mussels "Chowder Style" ($11.95). There were five pieces of thin garlic bread topped with melted cheese and they were good. The salads were quite large, plenty of fresh ingredients and had a very nice taste. The Mussels were supposed to have pancetta, baby red potatoes, and roasted corn in a light cream and chive butter sauce. The bowl was quite large and is was like I had chowder topped by a bunch of mussels in the shell. The potato was different though, actually being sweet potato. The mussels were tender and flavorful, with a good soup though the sweet potatoes did not seem to work as well as a regular potato might have. The sweet potatoes were sweet and tasty, but I am not sure they really went as well as they could have with this dish.
For our entrees, one person got the Pumpkin Ravioli appetizer special ($9.95). The ravioli had a maple flavored sauce and the dish was quite large for an appetizer. My friend raved about the ravioli, saying they were excellent. Another of my companions ordered the Tuscan Shrimp Risotto, which also has Roasted Butternut Squash and sautéed pancetta ($23). Another large dish of food which my companion enjoyed very much. My wife ordered the Roasted Frenched Pork Chops ($23) which are topped with prosciutto and pine nuts, drizzled with a basil cream sauce and served with roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus. She ordered it medium rare and the chef had our server confirm that she wanted it cooked that way. Seems they were worried about illness from undercooked meat. It was a large and tasty dish though it did not impress her. I had the Chicken Saltimbocca ($24) which has Prosciutto, Sage and Asagio cheese rolled in tender chicken breasts and served with angel hair. I got a big plate of food and it was very good. The chicken was tender, the pasta cooked just right and the sauce was nice.
For dessert, we ordered a passionate fruit cake and a tiramisu cannoli. Both were excellent and eagerly devoured by all of us. The cannoli was probably the favorite of the two.
Service was very good. You certainly get plenty of food here at a reasonable price. The food is good, though not exceptional. It is a place to sate your appetite and have a good time. Maybe I can't help but compare it to Bistro 5, another Italian restaurant I have recently dined at. Bistro 5 is an exceptional restaurant that sets a high bar for its competitors.
12 Main Street