Review: Aragosta Bar and Bistro

A robust Italian take on locavore cuisine
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  June 29, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

Aragosta has a short list of cocktails and a longer list of wines. The wines aren't cheap, but one of the least expensive bottles is the 2008 Westport Rivers chardonnay, true to the style of that Massachusetts vineyard, which is to use rather green fruit (note only 12.2 percent alcohol) to get a tart, Chablis-like wine that won't win any medals but will pair up with food remarkably well. With desserts, there are after-dinner alcohols, the usual coffees and teas, and a line of "Purelosophy" herbal drinks ($6) offered in "power," "relax," and "detox." These come in small paper "cans" that are ceremoniously poured over ice. I take chances for this column, but not on "power" or "detox" when I have to drive home and get to bed. "Relax" is a blend of five herbal extracts and three fruit-juice concentrates. As one might expect, they largely cancel each other out, and we have a glass of gray stuff that tastes a little bit of lemon balm, and maybe pear. It's not bad enough actually to be medicine, but close enough for spa work.

The dessert flight is cheaper, larger, less complicated, and, well, heartier than Sensing's. I am in favor of almost all of this, especially on the torta cioccolato ($8), a flourless cupcake so dense it sticks to the roof of your mouth, tempered with vanilla gelato. Olive-oil cake ($8) is just that, a little looser than pound cake, with chopped almonds and a terrific limoncello ice cream. The Boston Cream Pie semifreddo ($8) is inaccurate on all points, being a fully frozen mousse, so it looks like a slice of sheet cake. Still, who doesn't like to eat ice cream on crumbled macaroons?

Service at Aragosta is good, with some time lapses between courses. We were there on a quiet weeknight, and it may actually work better when busier. The rooms were as good as at Sensing, and seem to be a little lighter in bamboo accents, with a slightly Jetsons-moderne bar. The terrace seating is pleasant, although the view is limited to a fireboat and the Coast Guard station, which these days serves primarily as a holding tank for undocumented aliens. There's a sliver of water out there somewhere.

Aragosta Bar and Bistro, located at 3 Battery Warf (Fairmont Hotel) in Boston (North End/Waterfront), is open daily from 6:30 am - 10 pm.

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

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