Saturday, February 21, 2009

L'Andana: Piattini

When dining out, I enjoy the "small plate" concept, ordering a number of small appetizer dishes to share with my dining companions. These dishes can be inexpensive and you get to try a wide variety of foods. Plus it can be very social or intimate, dependent on who is dining with you. Many cuisines have their own small plate options, such as Spanish tapas or Greek mezze. In Italy, you order piattini, which means "small plate" in Italian.

L'Andana is one of my favorite suburban restaurants and you can find plenty of past reviews on my blog. It generally is on the pricey side, though well worth it. But in these tougher economic times, many people find it more difficult to dine out unless they can find good values. L'Andana understands this and has introduced their own value deals, such as the Piattini Menu at their bar. You definitely should check out this new menu and you won't be disappointed.

Their bar area is fairly spacious, consisting of a long bar plus numerous tables, including a wall length couch. It is a comfortable area and obviously popular. On a Tuesday evening, not when you might expect a crowd, there were plenty of patrons present both at the bar and tables. Though you can also order off the regular menu in the bar, you won't go wrong by trying the Piattini menu.

Like their regular menu, it seems the Piattini menu is subject to change, so there is often something new for you to try. Currently, the menu has 13 small plate options and 3 wood grilled selections. The small plates range from $2-8, most costing $4-$5. The wood grilled selections include two pizzas and a burger, each costing $15-16. I have tried six of the small plates and all of them were excellent, perfectly prepared and spiced.

The Wood Grilled Swordfish ($5) comes with a spicy almond romesco sauce. The two pieces of swordfish were moist and delicious, and the romesco sauce made for a tasty addition. It was spicy but not overly so and the almond flavor was subtle. The Grilled Scallop ($7) was accompanied with truffle whipped potato and topped with a rich, mushroom marsala sauce. Again, the scallops were grilled just right and the marsala sauce was excellent, pairing well with the scallops. The creamy potatoes were also very good and went well with the Marsala.

The Goat Cheese Bruschetta ($5) has a tomato vinaigrette and you receive two long pieces of fresh bread. Along with the creamy goat cheese, there were also slices of cherry tomatoes and the spicy vinaigrette seemed to have balsamic in it. I love goat cheese so this was excellent, the creaminess complementing the acidity of the tomatoes. And L'Andana always has excellent bread, such as their complemetary Ciabatta which starts every meal, including in the bar.

I was thrilled to see that L'Andana had brought back their Lemon Arancini ($4) with tomato brodo. The Arancini used to be on their regular menu and I absolutely loved them so I was disappointed when they were taken off the menu. The arancini now are just as exceptional as they were before. The outside is lightly crunchy and the interior is creamy and flavorful with just the merest hint of lemon. Lemon can sometimes overpower a dish but that does not occur with these arancini. Plus, the tomato brodo sauce is superb and I love to sop up any extra sauce with my bread once the arancini is gone.

The Marsala Glazed Veal Meatballs ($6) with Parmesan polenta has also been on the regular menu, without the polenta. I enjoyed the meatballs before and they were just as good now. The Marsala glaze is quite compelling with firm, veal meatballs. The creamy polenta was also very good with a strong cheesy flavor. The Grilled Rosemary & Lemon Steak Spiedini ($5) was another dish where the lemon flavor was very restrained, and thus just right. The three pieces of tender beef had the right combination of spices, making it quite delicious.

The Spicy Mediterrnean Fish Stew ($8) is the most expensive small plate but it would be a misnomer to call it small. There were loads of seafood in this dish, including clams, mussels, fish, calamari and baby octopus. Plus, a light and spicy tomato-based broth. All of the seafood was very tender and the combination of flavors was a delight. I even got to try one of their pizzas, the Margherita Pizza ($15) which comes with fresh mozzarella, pomodoro, and basil. The pizza has a very thin crust and I very much enjoyed it, especially the fresh mozzarella.

Service, as usual, was excellent. This was a superb meal, with an abundance of delicious flavors and perfectly prepared. The prices are very reasonable for the quantity and quality of food you receive. They would make a nice little snack if you were having a drink, or even a complete meal if you were so inclined. I will definitely be back for more Piattini and hope to see you there.

86 Cambridge Street
Burlington, MA
Phone: (781) 270-0100

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