Owner Joe Faro says his dream was: "To create the Disneyland of genuine, Italian artisan foods and scratch cooking." A dynamic personality (as one would imagine) with a passion for great Italian fare, Mr. Faro greeted almost every one of his guests personally to explain his food, sourcing and the the mission of Tuscan Brands.
We visited the original Tuscan Kitchen and Market in Salem, NH a few years back and were quite impressed. So, we were anxious to see what owner Joe Faro would do with the space he occupied in Burlington, part of an office park near the Burlington Mall. Could it hold up to the original location?
When we were invited to the soft opening for media and guests, we quickly accepted. We were greeted at the door with a sparkling glass of prosecco and freshly-sliced chunks of parmigiano reggiano drizzled with an aged balsamic vinegar. We knew instantly that the experience was going to be every bit as good.
We sipped and nibbled as we wandered the cavernous rooms. The place is huge, with seating for 543 guests. Some rooms are intimate, elegant, with roaring fireplaces on this cool, damp evening. Others are geared more toward small dinner meetings and events.
The large bar area is comfortable and intimate at the same time with an extensive wine collection including wines on tap.
The Affetati Misti buffet including House Made Porchetta, Fig Jam, 24 Month Prosciutto di Parma, more Parmigiano Reggiano, Local Truffle Honey, House Made Burrata and loads of freshly-baked Artisan Stone Hearth Breads, Cheeses and Grilled Vegetables.. The quality of everything was top drawer. My favorite was that Porchetta.
Our Antipasti Course: Crostini Di Granchio - Wild Caught Jonah Crab, Grilled Ciabatta, Semi Roasted Tomatoes and Pickled Mustard Seed. The Tonno Crudo - Navel Orange, Calabrese Peppers and Crispy Prosciutto with an Extra Virgin Drizzle. Again, the very top level of flavor and consistent quality in every bite.
The Primi course consisted of a Canneloni Di Vitello - Thin sheets of Rosemary Pasta stuffed with a Slow-braised Veal Breast, Wilted Spinach and Tuscan Bean Mista. The Truffled Mascarpone Gnocchi (my favorite) included Wood-roasted Mushroom, Fava Beans and Shaved Pecorino Tartufo.
I opted for the Cod as my Secondi. Although Cod can be hit-or-miss, including downright terrible in the hands of the wrong cook or chef, I had a feeling this was going to be fine. And it was. Pan Roasted Cod Steak with Rock Shrimp, Sweet Pea Saffron Risotto, and Herb Leek Butter Crust. It hit every note right, including the creamy-yet-al-dente risotto and the fleshy, tender consistency of the cod - without a trace of oily, old fish taste.
The other Secondi option was Filetto Di Manzo: Aged Wood Grilled Filet, Caramelized Garlic "Riduzione", Truffled Parmigiano Fingerlings and Brussel Sprout and Pancetta Slaw. Every bit as satisfying and delicious.
For the Dolci course we had the very special treat of being invited into the Tuscan Market area (the shop that marks the restaurant entrance) to wander about and taste as we pleased. The cafe seats 30 people and all of the pastries and gelatos are freshly-made. We snacked on amazingly fresh lemon cookies, gelato made in the machine right beside the case and sipped coffees while letting our eyes feast on the goods and prepared foods in the case. Sumptuous!
Although there are spots where the faux, Disneyesque veneer is apparent it is overall the real deal and the absolute quality of all the foods is truly impressive. I would have no qualms at all about bringing euro friends visiting us, even Italians, here for a great, memorable meal. Congratulations!
Tuscan Kitchen and Market24 New England Executive Park
Burlington, MA 01803