Bina Osteria

Opulence: enjoy it while you can
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  January 21, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

091023_dining_main
TOP NOTCH: “Vertical” food is still alive and well, as evidenced by the delicious chicken marsala.

Bina Osteria | 617.956.0888 | 581 Washington St (North Tower Ritz Carlton Residences), Boston | Open Sun, 11 am–2:30 pm and 5–10 pm; Mon–Wed, 11:30 am–2:30 pm and 5–10 pm; Thurs–Fri, 11:30 am–2:30 pm and 5–10:30 pm; and Sat, 11 am–2:30 pm and 5–10 pm | AE, MC, VI | full bar | Discounted validated parking in Ritz Millennium garage | Street level access
Bina Osteria may be the last luxury restaurant to open in Boston for a long time — or at least the last that isn't situated in a boutique hotel. This period coming up just doesn't look like a hyper-chef, super-luxe, food-as-bling kind of epoch. But before we say goodbye to the destination restaurant, we should lift our glasses once more to toast the pleasures of avant-dining, and Bina Osteria might just be the perfect place to do so. (If my grandchildren find this review hard to believe, so be it.)

This new upscale restaurant, located in the North Tower of the Ritz Carlton residences, is, after all, an ode to opulence, and is full of surprises. Take the butter, which is blue with some blended-in herb, tiny piles of sea salt, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme — all to put on wonderful crusty bread with big holes. Will such over-the-top indulgences exist in the future? Sometimes I worry that we won't even have sliced bread.

Platters here bear a similar upscale mark: it's as if three different chefs go to work just to make the appetizer "3 from the Sea" ($13). One bit is a Chinese soup spoon full of chopped raw tuna with radishes; another, an oyster in a marvelous orange sauce; and a cute little cup of chowder, intense as bisque and filled with periwinkles. I liked the last best, as it really captured the flavor of sea snails.

How about an "Autumn Salad," for $12? (Just imagine! If we continue down this financial course, that's as much money as I might someday make in a week, bailing water out of the Big Dig for the WPA.) It's a clever display, with Jerusalem artichokes made into a kind of potato salad, crumbs of toasted hazelnuts, and greens of small corn salad served even in the dead of winter. A "Piccolo Insalata" — that means "little salad" in Italian — is "only" nine dollars. It comes with arugula and other greens, plus thin slices of turnip stained to look like sliced tongue, and is served with a wonderful dressing. "Bresaola" ($11) — dried beef spiced like salami with more arugula and some powdered parmesan cheese — makes a fine bar snack.

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