I had an opportunity to attend a soft opening for Tuscan Market and Kitchen in Burlington Massachusetts. It was a great opportunity to chat with Joe Faro, the owner, and sample their menu and wines. The ‘shop’ is a sprawling place that reportedly seats 500 (350 indoors, 150 outdoors), and boasts full takeout kitchen, small café, and very long bar.
The main dining room is divided into several themed areas, and also boasts a sizable function room. The main kitchen is designed to support up to 19 (!) staff, and there’s a hidden second kitchen for overflow, functions, or catering services.
All menu items are prepared from scratch, and it shows, from the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi to the super-fresh gelato. Though some of the misti weren’t as full-flavored as we might encounter elsewhere, they were still fresh.
Upon entering, we were greeted with prosecco in The Market area, and enoyed Hors d’ouvres including
– Wheel of Parmesan with aged balsamic
– Braised octopus with Sicilian greens on crostini (very nice)
– Roasted butternut squash with walnuts Parmesan on crostini (seasonable, and also easy to like)
We then turned to The Wine Bar offering a Cruvinet with 24 wines by the glass and a windowed view to their extensive racks of Brunellos, super Tuscans, etc.
At the entrance to the wine bar were tables filled with affettati misti, including homemade porchetta (with a very nice fig jam), prosciutto, ciabatta , focaccia, olives broccolini, asparagus , sundried tomatoes, etc.
During the evening, we enjoyed 3 different wines, besides the Prosecco:
– Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2009 – a less grand vintage, so the wine was very approachable, silky, and polished.
– Banfi Chianti Classico 2011 – a fine, polished classico
– Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2011 – a flavorful but rustic example of a traditional Siciliano rosso.
When we were seated for dinner (in a semi-circle booth near the main kitchen), we joined two other couples, one who owned a food magazine from the Merrimack Valley, and the other was a contributing editor to El Planeto, a Spanish-language weekly that shows up in the Boston area.
We were served dual tasting plates for Antipasti and Primi, and then a choice of Cod or Filetto for Secondi.
The tonno antipasto was whistle-clean, and the crab crostini was really, really nice.
The veal cannelloni was a bit scorched, but very flavorful, and the gnocchi was the best I’ve ever had (they take great pride in their house-made pastas).
The filetto was pretty good (not a Mortons or Capital Grill), and the truffled fingerlings were, as expected, addictive.
Since my dining companion is vegetarian, they fully accommodated her with a nice mixed green/herb salad for Antipasto, and roasted ‘eggplant tower’ (a la parmagiana) which she quite enjoyed.
Dessert were serve-yourself, and included a traditional Tira Mi Su, and a ‘Lemon’ Tira Mi Su, which was a nice alternative.
The Limoncello Sorbetto (gelato) was a very refreshing palate cleanser.
Joe Faro, the owner, also owns the very successful Tuscan Market and Kitchen in Salem, NH (which is the highest grossing restaurant in that state).
We chatted extensively with him during the evening, and his passion for food, quality, and customer experience showed. His team is loyal and competent (many have been with him for several years, including Eddie Payne, his chief of operations and executive chef). The restaurants are grouped under the corporate name of “Tuscan Brands.”
The Burlington Tuscan Market opened on Monday 9/22, and the Burlington Tuscan Kitchen opened 9/29/2014.
For more information, visit Tuscan Market and Kitchen.