Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Strega Prime: A Brief Lunch Review

Opened for less than two weeks, Strega Prime, located in Woburn at the site of the former Beacon Grille, is Nick Varano's third restaurant. Strega Prime is intended to be an upscale Italian steakhouse and it seems to fit that objective. I recently ate lunch there and will provide my thoughts though please keep in mind that the restaurant is newly opened and needs time to iron out the initial kinks that all new restaurants face.

Though it maintains a similar basic layout to the Beacon Grille, there have been some changes to the decor, from the "cow hide" bar stools to the multiple TV screens in the main dining room showing black & white movies.

Their wine list is extensive, with over 1300 selections, but it is pricey. For example, the Caymus Conundrum, at an average retail of $20, is on their list for $65. A 3 1/2 times markup on the retail is huge, especially considering the true markup is even higher.  "Upscale" shouldn't mean that wine prices are at such a high markup, catering to businessmen on expense accounts.

The Lunch menu is broken into Raw Bar, oysters or shrimp, ($14), 3 Salads ($7-$12), 2 Soups ($6-$7); 4 Appetizers ($9-$14), 3 Sandwiches ($12-$14), 3 Lunch Salads ($14-$18), 4 Lunch Specials ($14-$26) and 6 Desserts ($8-$9). For example, you could start with a Hand Chopped Beef Tartar ($9) and then get a 12 oz. Sirloin Burger ($14) with Parmesan Frites. Or a Shrimp Caesar Salad ($18) or even a Grilled Chicken Club ($12)

Lunch begins with a warm Popover, which though some see them as old-fashioned, I still enjoy. This was a nice popover, with what seemed like a dusting of parmesan atop it, and I smeared butter all along the eggy inside. A good start to lunch.

I then began my meal with the New England Corn & Clam Chowder ($6) which has crispy pancetta and parsley butter. Though it had a pleasant taste, and plenty of corn, lots of onions and tiny potatoes, it seemed to lack many clams. What clams seemed to be present were minced to tiny, almost unidentifiable pieces. It seemed like far more of a corn chowder, with some clam flavor, and not quite what I was expecting.

The Grilled Salmon ($19) comes with Yukon gnocchi, fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, and is in a white wine sauce. The large piece of fish was cooked well, and was tender and flavorful, complemented by the light white sauce. The gnocchi were well made, pillowy and tender. A good lunch choice.

The Chicken Milanese ($16), with capers, tomatoes, and baby arugula, has a light Marsala sauce which adds flavor to the chicken without swimming in it. It was a substantial piece, with moist, tender chicken covered by a crisp & clean coating. I was impressed with this dish and would order it again. Highly recommended for lunch.

For dessert, the Italian Smores ($9), with gianduja budino, marshmallow, & pizzelle, makes a cool presentation. It is also tasty, with rich, smooth chocolate, covered by sweet marshmallow, with a caramelized crust. You can either take your spoon to the chocolate and marshmallow, or smear it on a pizzelle. It is large enough to share, and I am sure both of you will enjoy it.

There were a couple services issues initially, basically a server who didn't pay attention to what told to him. In addition, another server was apparently soaked in a strong cologne and every time he passed by the table, you couldn't help but have your nose assailed by his cologne, detracting from lunch. These are issues though which hopefully will be fixed in the near future as the new restaurant works out its initial kinks.

I'll return here and report back on the progress of Strega Prime.  

1 comment:

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I love popovers, so any meal that start with them is immediately pleasant in my book. I bet I would love the Italian Smores, too!