Break Out Of The Box issues, I need to dine more in the communities south of Boston. Like the northern suburbs, the South Shore has acquired some fine restaurants, and they can be reached fairly easily. Recently, I journeyed down to Pembroke to attend a media dinner at Orta Ristorante, an Italian spot which is flying under the radar of many food lovers.
Orta is located less than thirty miles from Boston, and is easily reached by taking Route 3 South to Route 53 South. In 2010, the restaurant was opened by Chef Jimmy Burke who, in 2012, sold it to Chef Brett Williams, one of his protégés. Brett comes from a culinary family, as his grandfather owned the famous Lombardo's in East Boston. He has also spent time traveling and working in various regions of Italy, including Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, and the Liguria. Lake Orta is a small, beautiful lake located in northern Italy, which Honoré de Balzac once referred to as a "grey pearl in a green jewel-box." While traveling, Brett fell in love with Cara and even proposed to her in a town near Lake Orta. Cara had a restaurant background and she now runs the front of the house at Orta.
--Antipasti (11 choices, $8-$12) like Lobster Risotto Cakes and Caesar Salad.
--Brick Oven Pizza (7 choices, $14-$15) from Margherita to Pepperoni
--Pasta (7 choices, $18-$20) like Homemade Potato Gnocchi to Rigatoni Bolognese
--Secondi (8 choices, $22-$28) like Pan Seared Local Sole and Pork Chop Milanese
--Dolce (7 choices, $8 each) like Tiramisu, Gelato, and Mini Cannoli
The prices are generally very reasonable, especially considering the ample portions that are usually served. There is plenty of variety, so no matter what your preferences, you should be able to find dishes you will enjoy. I actually had some difficulty selecting my entree as there were several dishes I wanted to try. The most compelling element is the quality of the food, which will satisfy any food lover. Some places provide plentiful mounds of food, trying to make up for a lower quality product, but that is definitely not the case at Orta. They provide both quantity and quality.
The restaurant has a full bar, and cocktails cost $11, including their own, homemade Sangria. They carry about 20 beers by the bottle, priced $4.25-$6.50, including both local brews and international ones. You'll find about 17 wines available by the glass, priced $8.50-$12, and 11 of those are Italian. Enjoy a glass of Falanghina or Vermentino. You'll also find about 60 wines available by the bottle, most priced under $50. However, those wines often are priced around three times the usual retail, though the markup on their higher end wines is much less. I like the diversity of the list, though wish the markup on their less expensive wines was lower.
The PEI Mussels ($10) are made with leeks, smoked bacon, & roasted garlic thyme butter, are are accompanied by grilled focaccia. The mussels were plump and tender, with a flavorful broth, perfect for dipping your bread. The Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare ($12) was also an impressive dish, made with a soy ginger reduction, sesame, & wasabi aioli and accompanied by chive crackers. There was plenty of silky pieces of tuna, and the flavors blended well together. Definitely one of the better examples of tuna tartare.