Gran Gusto, Cambridge

A couple of weekends ago, G and I were in Boston for a weekend.  It gave us a chace to have a lovely dinner at one of our old favorites, Gran Gusto.  It is a wonderful, family run Italian restaurant in North Cambridge.  The restaurant itself is on a side road in an office building.  We discovered it a few years ago as we often used to pass the place.  Gran Gusto was the first restaurant that managed to last in this odd location for more than a few months.  We were often concerned about whether it would last as we were often one of only a few full tables.  This time we went in early a Saturday evening and the room was buzzing.  We were asked if we had a reservation and since we didn’t were offered the option to sit at the bar.  Looks like business is booming!  The space is a little odd since it is in an office building but quite comfortable and cute.  The walls are painted to make it feel as though you are outside in an Italian courtyard.

We shared a lovely stracciatella and prosciutto appetizer.  Stracciatella is a lovely cheese which is the inner core of bufala mozzarella and according to the waiter was flown in from Italy.  It was so delicate, rich and creamy!  G had the rigatoni with sausage and mushrooms which he loved!  I had a linguini dish with baby calamari and tomatoes.  It was tasty although the baby calamari were a little fishy for my taste.  We ended with a light and smooth tiramisu.  It was wonderful!  Gran Gusto’s popularity is well earned though it is out of the way it is well worth the trip.

Gran Gusto
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 441-0400

Sofra, Cambridge

Last weekend before running errands G and I decided to stop in and finally try Sofra Bakery and Café.  It is a Middle Eastern café run by the chef and owners of Oleana.  It is a nice café with seating for about 14 people.  When we arrived it was quite busy and all the seating was taken.  We went ahead and ordered and decided to eat at the counter in the middle.  They offer a nice variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items.  I tried the creamy eggplant, leeks & goat cheese stuffed flatbread.  It was a delicate, thin, almost crepe-like, flat bread filled with delicious, creamy nutty eggplant and goat cheese.  G tried the lamb shawarma pita.  It was amazing!  The lamb was soft tender and beautifully flavored!

We ended with a couple of cookies.  I tried the molasses cookie which was nice and chewy.  G tried the chocolate chunk which was extremely rich!  It was full of lots of rich dark chocolate with just enough batter holding them all together.  We took home a chocolate hazelnut baklava.  Though nice, the flavors were a little unusual.  I am not sure I liked the combination of chocolate and honey.

The café also sells many prepared dishes which can be taken home and sell various Middle Eastern spices and mixtures which can be used to experiment at home.  I know we will be back to try the mezze/hummus bar and stock up on some spices.  But, most definitely for the lamb shawarma!

Sofra Bakery & Cafe
1 Belmont St

, MA 02138

Friday night sushi

By the end of the week G and I are tried and just want some light simple food and our go to Friday night dinner is often sushi. We usually get sushi once or twice a month on Friday nights. This past Friday we were traitors to our local, Hana Sushi, and decided to try the new Snappy Sushi in Davis Sq. The room is very sleek and modern with light toned wood and abstract paintings. When you walk on the left in there is a sushi bar with about four seats. Then on the right is a large communal wooden table with 4 – 5 seats on all four sides. We were seated at the communal table which has flower arrangements in the center to break up the large table.

We started with a seaweed salad which was served with mixed greens. The mixed greens were dressed with a lovely ginger wasabi dressing. The seaweed salad was quite nice and I liked how they paired it with the greens. Then we had three types of nigiri sushi, Tuna, Yellowtail, and Salmon. They use brown koshihikari rice in their sushi which has a heartier taste and texture than the typical white rice. We both felt that the rice had a little sweetness as well. The sushi was all very fresh and tasty however, I did notice that the pieces were not cut perfectly. We also tried three rolls. We had to try the Spicy Yellowtail Roll which is our favorite so we could compare it to Hana’s. It was very good. Then we tried the Spicy Crispy Scallop Roll which had scallop, cucumber, green leaf, tempura flakes, flying fish roe and spicy mayo. It should also have avocado however, G and I don’t eat avocado so we asked them to prepare it without. We both really liked this roll. The flavors were perfect and the texture was nice and crispy! I have not seen lettuce leaf in sushi before but it was a nice crispy touch. Lastly we had the Mamemaki Roll which is tuna, salmon, cucumber, and green leaf which wrapped in bean sheet and dressed with an edamame-yuzu sauce (again this should have avocado). I was not particularly fond of the edamame-yuzu sauce which was too sweet and tangy and did not compliment the flavors of the fish.

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