Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Alfresco - Excellent Value Dining
Alfresco restaurant in Somerville.
A few weeks back we wrote about a great value dining experience at Green Tomato II in Somerville. Barely had we finished the post when we noticed another new restaurant just around the corner from there called Alfresco. This was a former pizza place and before that had seen many lives as various restaurants, just a tiny, hole in the wall type place, which often turn out to be gems.
We visited for lunch and I must say this is real value dining. Succulent marinated lamb grilled with vegetables and served over a bed of rice pilaf was our choice. A salad is also served with the plate and a basket of rolls with two dipping sauces. The first was an olive oil with spices including red pepper flakes. I am not a fan of spiced olive oils and definitely not if it's on the hot side. As we've seen in past olive oil posts, a really good quality extra virgin oi live oil will stand on its own as a dipping sauce. It would have been nice to see a sweeter, fruitier oil such as Frantoia, an Italian oil, or Aria, our favorite, a Greek oil. Neither of these need any spice and the flavor is astounding. The other sauce was a marinara with grated bread crumbs. It was OK, again, but could have used a touch of grated cheese, pecorino romano specifically, to give it an extra bite. As it is it is fairly bland.
Alfresco restaurant interior.
The rice pilaf was great. When it's done right (usually my friends of Armenian background do it best) I could eat an entire platter of pilaf alone. This one was done right. The lamb was tender and succulent and perfectly grilled. It's so rare that I eat lamb and when I do it's a treat. This was good. The vegetables were also perfectly grilled, not overdone, charred outside and mushy in spots. They were crisp and fersh and flavorful. Along with the squash and zucchini were mushrooms.
Lamb dinner at Alfresco in Somerville
Tha salad here was exceptionally fresh and the house dressing outshone by far the other sauces. Light but not too full of vinegar, savory but not salty, it was the perfect blend and could easily be bottled and marketed.
All this, including a soft drink, came to a total of $8.95! In a tony location with Versace placeware the same, exact meal would easily cost between $40-50. In fact, I've had less food served for more money, all the same quality, many times before. Now I know why I see a crowd inside every time we've been by since. It is, hands down, one of the best values around.
Wine bottle display at Alfresco in Somerville.
382 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143