Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Restaurant Review: M.C. Spiedo, Boston

Boston in the winter months can be wicked windy and polar vortex cold. Which makes sightseeing a tough sell for the little kiddos. Sure the T goes everywhere you need, but a lot of stops are outdoors (I'm looking at you Museum of Science. Outdoors AND stairs.) and don't even think about driving. If you bring your car, hand it over to the valet at your hotel and consider it the best money you'll spend during your visit.

Of course with so many amazing restaurants around town it's difficult to settle for a mediocre (or overpriced) meal in your hotel if you can't convince your crew back out into the world. So we were very excited when we heard about the new restaurant opening in the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel from two Maine favorites (and James Beard Award winners) Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier. Their Arrows Restaurant is known worldwide for its farm to table philosophy, and they've combined that with some inspiration from the Italians of the Renaissance period to open M.C. Spiedo.

Spiedo (spee-ay-do) refers to the rotisserie style of cooking, but the little C&Gs have Americanized the name and it will forever be known as McSpeedo in our house (sorry!). Names aside, M.C. Spiedo authentically borrows from Northern Italy, with small plates of Venetian style appetizers (known as cicchetti) and cheeses and charcuteries for starters. Your waiter will wheel over a cart with some dishes on the antipasti menu to choose from, you don't want to miss the house made burrata.

The Italian cocktails all have a New England twist (Bully Boy vodka from Boston or Cold River Blueberry vodka from Maine) and Sam Adams shares menu space with Peroni. Our favorites, Campari and Aperol, are well represented and you can see my at-home version of the Cosimo de'Medici here. As you'd expect the wine list is very impressive and heavy on the Italians with lots to choose from by the glass.

What I love most about M.C. Spiedo (besides my new discovery of combining Aperol with vodka and raspberries) is the thoughtfully created children's menu. It's not just pasta with butter or marinara, although I'm sure they'd be happy to do that. The menu has three courses with a selection of starters in case your kiddos aren't stealing your house cured charcuterie. Little C&G had the most delicious brick oven pizza and Big C&G declared his pasta bolognese "the best he's ever had in this country". Very high praise.

The pasta is all made in house and by hand and I love that you can order a half portion from the dinner menu, which is all you'll need after a few cicchetti. Meat and fish courses are hearty, rustic, and absolutely delicious. The golden crispy skin on my guinea hen pasta dish was absolute perfection and what I always hope for (yet never get) when I bring home a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods.

We didn't have cocktails in the lounge (I had Ritz Carlton on the brain) before dinner but it certainly will be at the top of our list for next time. There's plenty of room to spread out and the low tables and couches are perfect for lounging with coloring books, cocktails, and charcuterie. Floor to ceiling windows look out over the arrivals and departures from the hotel and are ideal for people watching.

Even if you aren't staying at the Renaissance you should put M.C. Spiedo at the top of your kid friendly cocktail and restaurant list for your next trip to Boston. But if you're smart you'll book a room at the Renaissance, because the perfect ending to your amazing meal is heading upstairs when it's time to hit the pillow.

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