Pazzo

Bonkers? No, just crazy good.
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  August 12, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

The new pasta on the block is "gnudi" ($18), which looks like gnocchi, but are made of ricotta ravioli filling. Italian cooks think of them as unclothed ravioli — appropriate, since the word means "nude." Bradley gets them to hold a perfectly cylindrical shape, so you have what looks like a long platter of six sea scallops, and tastes like low-carb herbal pasta. They make a terrific combination with a sauce of pulled duck meat and wild mushrooms, mostly oyster mushrooms.

If you want real scallops, try the unusually lemony asparagus risotto ($21), which features a "three pea salute" of English peas, sugar snaps, and pea tendrils. It would be better if it had less salt.

In the key of meat, grilled rack of Berkshire pork ($22) is a two-inch double chop that's nicely cooked through and tender enough to cut with a fork. With it you get outstanding mashed potatoes, spiced pickled grapes (with some pickled pepper rings), and roasted parsnips and carrots of concentrated sweetness and flavor. The crust of the meat might be a bit peppery, but there's enough meat that you can carve it to suit your own palate.

A baked shrimp casserole ($19) is a more pedestrian combination of large shrimp, feta cheese, orzo pasta, and not enough spinach. Pan-roasted local cod ($19) came on another decently large bruschetta, the better to absorb the spicy tomato broth. Ours came to the table underdone — always the right mistake to make since it's easily fixed.

Pazzo has a full bar and full bar scene on a hot summer weeknight, much of it outdoors. The wine list is Italian and American and fairly priced, like the entrées. A glass of La Valentina rose of montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($7/glass; $24/bottle) was light, dry, and quaffable.

Desserts closed out well without too much innovation. My favorite was a warm pear tart ($8) in the free-form style with some almond flavor (maybe a thin marzipan layer). Warm chocolate cake ($9) was mostly molten chocolate, set off by vanilla gelato with cherries. Our choice of assorted sorbets and gelati ($8) was fig: a fairly dry flavor, not unlike coffee, but three rich scoops. Crème brûlée ($8) was absolutely the cliché: perfectly executed with a standout lacy plate decoration of chocolate and caramel syrups.

Service on a weeknight was excellent. The interiors are up and downstairs from street level, and have all the trappings of modern romance: candles in red glasses, dark wood, big mirrors, all-black tile bathrooms, and enough noise to force couples back to body language. I think moderate pricing is newly sexy, as well.

Robert Nadeau can be reached at robtnadeau@aol.com.

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