Review: Erbaluce

23 July 2015

I had another crazy busy day, starting at 6am, that took me as far as Worcester and once again — third day in a row — no lunch. But the fine memory of last night’s excellent dinner at Taberna de Haro kept me going until tonight’s dinner. I got back to my hotel and showered and changed, and jumped onto the T and headed to one of the best-rated Italian places in town, Erbaluce.

After that excellent dinner at Coppa, I was hoping for a lot tonight. Will this be a perfect Boston hat trick of 3 awesome dinners in a row? I got to Erbaluce in the heart of the city food traffic and was seated in a rather dark place (explains the bad pix). I guess they are going for the romantic feel here…

They seem to be in a sunflower mood so my drink was a sunflower martini of all things…no pix, wasn’t worth it… I looked over the menu at the same time and my server came out with the specials…and sheeeeeeyet…he was telling me crudo is raw. Huh? I don’t even hear that in the middle of nowhere with no water nearby. And they needed to describe the types of pasta like I was from the sticks. Huh? I know Boston is full of tourists but why do you assume? I had to stop the waiter and mention I have spent quite a lot of time in Italy so no need. He told me they’ve had lots of people unhappy and sending back the crudo because they didn’t know it was raw! Huh? Wow…

Anyway, I ordered and chilled out. Somehow I was still a bit bewildered by all the stuff my server said. How 24 hours and the distance of a few T stops can make… After a bit the starter showed up, the aforementioned crudo.

1-scallops_crudo

Not bad, but nothing special in these scallops. Not especially tasty, pretty ordinary stuff. The vegetables were actually more memorable to be honest. Problem with scallops crudo is that they are either succulent and sweet or they are pretty meh — these fit the latter. The added acid brought nothing out, just made it harder to eat.

I switched to some wine and the place was filling up a bit more now. Then my pasta dish arrived, a nice carbonara.

2-carbonara

I have to say this was done very well. Pasta cooked perfectly, flavours strong. Excellent. My mood lifted considerably. Now on an adjacent table were some tourists from Asia that had a lot of trouble with the menu…and they got confused by the crudo. Is that it? Is this area beseiged by tourists who send food back? What is with Boston and sending food back? I’ve never seen this trend! Then my main arrived.

3-boar_shoulder

Shoulder of boar. Looked good, but it was actually rather flavourless. I should stop ordering “wild boar” in the US because they are not wild. The joy of eating a real wild boar, especially in Europe or Japan, is that it is actually WILD. The joy is tasting the wildness, not this “managed” game. It was cooked okay, but it was just again, meh…

The place was filling up now so I took my leave after a grappa. It was not bad, but it was a bewildering experience. And as I walked out I saw several hotels that cater exclusively to Chinese tourists…ah, now I get it. Anyway, it was a meh of a night, and definitely too mediocre to ever ponder coming back. No authenticity, too contrived, and it really doesn’t rise to the level it thinks it reaches. And probably a tourist trap…

Plenty of other, better places in the Boston area. And without the strange stuff.

Erbaluce
69 Church Street
Boston, Massachusetts

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