I was going to attend a wine tasting in the North End, so I pondered where to eat afterwards. There are so many choices but one restaurant was at the forefront of my mind, Prezza. I had recently attended the Vietti wine dinner at Prezza and was thoroughly impressed. So I now wanted to check out their regular menu, to see what Chef Anthony Caturano usually prepared.
A wine dinner is often a special meal, a time when a chef puts forth his best efforts to impress his guests. It is not always indicative of what you will find on the regular menu. So I was eager to put Chef Caturano to the test. Though he could not be present on the evening I dined there, Chef Caturano arranged for me and my good friend Dale to have a tasting menu. Dale had never dined at Prezza before and he too was excited for the meal.
Their menu has about 11 Appetizers ($15-$16), 4 Salads & Soups ($12-$15), 5 Pastas ($10-$36, in either appetizer or entree size), 12 Entrees ($25-$44) and 5 Sides ($8). There is a good diversity in the dishes, and everyone should be able to find something that appeals to them. It is a bit pricey, but based on my experiences, I think you receive delicious, high-quality food and I feel the prices are justified.
Their wine list is quite extensive, including plenty of intriguing choices. Prices are not too bad, often around twice the usual retail. And some of the higher end wines seem to have the lowest mark-up. We ordered the 2005 Isole e Olena Cepparello ($120), one of my favorite wines from an excellent producer. It usually retails for about $60.
Our dinner began with a basket of warm, rustic bread with a dish of olives in olive oil with herbs. This was similar to the prior wine dinner, and an excellent way to begin any meal. Good wine and bread! I was already in a very pleasant mood before the first course had arrived.
We began with a couple of appetizers, one being the Crispy Shrimp with Italian slaw and cherry pepper aioli. Each large shrimp was wrapped in crisp filo, and the shrimp was tender and juicy. The filo added a nice crunch to the dish and the aioli added a slight spiciness. I liked the filo covering better than many other batter-fried shrimps, and could have easily eaten several of these.
We also tried the Tuna Tar-Tare mixed with citrus vinaigrette, and accompanied by a crispy oyster and herb salad. Silky smooth tuna, with hints of citrus, was quite tasty and the crispy oyster added a different texture and flavor. I have always enjoyed fried oysters and this was very good.
Next up, the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with a lobster pancake and horseradish sour cream was sublime! The short rib was incredibly tender, and my fork alone broke it apart. It was moist and flavorful, the rich, savory red wine sauce delighting my palate. The short ribs alone would have pleased me, so the lobster pancake sent me over the top. There was plenty of lobster meat in the crisp pancake, and it actually went well with the wine sauce. This was also a perfect pairing with our Cepparello. A killer dish that succeeded on every level. I could probably dine at Prezza and just have appetizers.
The “Ravioli di Ouvo,” a ravioli stuffed with ricotta and egg yolk tossed with butter and sage is another dish with a compelling sauce, rich and flavorful. The large ravioli, made from perfectly cooked pasta, was filled with creamy ricotta and a gooey egg yolk that added to the dish. As I usually enjoy my eggs over easy, with gooey yolks, this was a dish that really appealed to me. This was also a fine sauce for dipping bread.
The Veal Ravioli “al Plin” had a similar brown butter and sage sauce. Al Plin means a "pinch," referring to how you seal up the pasta. The ravioli were like little half moons, filled with savory veal, which went well with the sauce. I am also a big veal fan so these ravioli very much appealed to me.
For our final savory course, we had the Angus Sirloin with chunky-mashed golden Yukon potato and grilled asparagus. The sirloin was tender, with almost no fat, and the sauce once again complemented well the food. Chef Caturano's sauces are impressive. Quality beef, cooked just right. I also very much enjoyed the creamy potatoes, with only tiny chunky bits. I was fairly well stuffed by this point, extremely happy with everything I had eaten so far.
Yet dessert did come, and I had to at least make an effort to taste them. The Chocolate Flourless Cake with vanilla ice-cream and raspberry puree was excellent, a rich chocolate cake with melted chocolate inside of it. A good-sized dessert, it could easily feed two people.
This lemon dessert was also delicious, even though I am usually not a big fan of lemony desserts. It was creamy and the lemon flavors did not overwhelm. I think I waddled out of the restaurant after all of this food.
Service was top-notch, and Chef Caturano showed that his regular menu is just as fine as his special wine dinners. The food is excellent, with fantastic rich and flavorful sauces enhancing the dishes. I left, very sated, and knowing that I would return. Prezza warrants my highest recommendation. Make sure to order the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with lobster pancake!
24 Fleet St.