Review: Scampo, Boston, MA

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | November 10th, 2009 | Restaurant Reviews

scampoA night in Boston leaves a couple with lots of options.  Looking for a nice dinner for two, we decided to check with the concierge at our hotel.  Telling him that we wanted an upscale restaurant that was fun and had a great menu, he suggested Scampo at the Liberty Hotel.  What a great suggestion it was!

Arriving at the restaurant around 8:00 without a reservation, we were told it would be a 45 minute wait.  As we were without kids for the night, a wait was not a problem.  In fact, we often enjoy a bit of a wait.  It gives us a chance to study the environment and service and to sample a beverage from the bar.

Scampo’s bar was packed.  Not only were all of the seats full, but almost all of the space around the barstools was filled with other couples standing and waiting.  However, even with such a crowd, the bartenders were attentive.  Within minutes of arriving in our tiny standing space, a bartender promptly took and filled our drink orders.  I chose the Sweet Bubbles, rose champagne with fresh peach puree, and my husband ordered a dirty martini.  Both drinks were well made with the exception of the olives in my husband’s martini- they had pits, which isn’t what one expects.

Almost exactly 45 minutes after arriving, we were seated at our table.  Table service was as well done as was the bar service, and thus we were offered water choices shortly after being seated.  As we started to study our menus, our water glasses were filled and our waitress, Yasmine, came to introduce herself.  Being our first visit to Scampo, she began a review of the menu, covering breads and starters.  She gave us a moment to ponder our wine choice and our first round of dining options.

While debating how to start our meal, breadsticks and a plate of fava bean dip were delivered.  Although my husband claims not to be a fan of legumes, he seemed to enjoy this dip immensely.  As we were nibbling, Yasmine returned and completed her review of the menu, giving additional information about entrees.  Having been fully briefed on the menu, we were ready to order.  We ordered two starters to share, a bottle of Prosecco, two entrees, and a side dish.

The Prima Perla Prosecco arrived in no time and was a wonderful accompaniment for our dinner.  This sparkling wine had some zestiness to it and a delicate amount of sweetness, providing a delightful array of tastes in every sip.

Our starters arrived, and though we were sharing, each of us favored one more than another.  My preferred starter was an item from the mozzarella bar- fresh mozzarella presented with beef carpaccio, parsnip chips, and smoked sea salt.  Both the carpaccio and mozzarella were amazingly tender, while the chips were delightfully thin and crisp.  My husband’s favorite was the sweetbreads a la plancha with dates, candied walnut, and celery leaves. Admittedly, I always have been too cowardly to try sweetbreads, but I decided to brave it this time.  My bite was fine, but I opted to let my husband enjoy the majority of the dish, which he gladly did.

After finishing our starters and having a little time to rest between courses, our entrees arrived.  I had chosen Vermont quail, clay oven fired with delicate truffled pastries of yellow lentils and coriander leaf.  The quail was tender and moist and flavorful.  My husband ordered lobster poached in sea salted butter with red swiss chard gnocchi.  Yasmine had raved about this dish, and according to my husband, it was worthy of the praise.  For lack of better words, the lobster was melt in your mouth tender, having been poached in butter.

To complete our dinners, we ordered a side of soft polenta with chive butter & fried onions. Although I was delighted with all of my dinner and drink choices, this was the most delicious item I consumed that evening.  Between its silky texture and butter-rich flavor, it was heaven in a bowl.  Typically, I shy away from dishes that are heavy in butter, but this dish was too incredible to resist.  The fried onions atop the dish made a beautiful finish for the dish.

Scampo has a very nice dessert menu, but after all of these dishes, neither of us had room to sample another bite.  Perhaps on our next trip, we will start with dessert.

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