Capo Restaurant in South Boston

This blog post isn’t turning out as intended.

My friend and I planned to meet for lunch at a restaurant in South Boston that had corn and crab chowder. I was really looking forward to it and was planning to bring back The Chowdah Project.

I got to the place first and it was wall to wall people with blasting music. I hadn’t been in a place like that since dorm parties in my college days. No thank you! I walked out with no intention of returning.

Oh, and parking was an absolute nightmare. It took close to a half an hour to find anything and it was a somewhat problematic space. I’m not used to South Boston and didn’t know the area. Now I better understand all the stories about people getting so upset when there’s snow and people remove their space savers. I cannot even imagine trying to park there when there is snow.

Anyway, my friend found a spot and then we walked around a bit and ended up finding Capo Restaurant. Unfortunately, there was no chowder. But I may have had the best squash ravioli of my life. It was perfect.

A light cream sauce. So much squash filling that you could really see, taste and feel it. Perfectly seasoned with brown butter and crispy sage. The restaurant is very spacious and airy with ceiling fans going. Lots of space between the tables. Just a nice vibe.

I definitely recommend Capo Restaurant. But leave your car at home.

Tambo 22 Restaurant

Salmon, Chancaca Y Rocoto

Tambo 22 opened in March 2020. Staying open through the pandemic shows a tremendous amount of grit and no doubt a lot of community support.

When my friends and I went out to eat last month, we were talking about where we should eat next. One of their colleagues had mentioned Tambo 22, which is a Peruvian-inspired restaurant in Chelsea, and she was intrigued. So was her husband, who also happens to be a chef. He wanted to try the cuisine too and wanted to come with us.

We ended up being a group of seven and went to dinner there last night. If you look to the left of the restaurant sign in the picture of the exterior below, you can see the almost full moon, which I always enjoy seeing.

The restaurant is very small and there is on street parking, but it’s very limited. The restaurant’s days and hours are limited too. Wednesday through Sunday, 5pm – close. The close is different hours on different days.

Now this is just a random thing that’s personal to me. I hate driving over bridges. Coming from Quincy, I had to drive over the Tobin Bridge to get to Chelsea. It’s very tall and very long. Because of the restaurant’s hours, I also had to drive at night. I drove soooo slowy and was a nervous wreck. The same way returning home. I’m amazed that I used to drive over it almost everyday many years ago when I worked in Salem.

Anyway, I must say that as soon as I arrived, I felt very comfortable. The service is good and there is a nice ambiance. A bit loud, because it was filled with people. Everyone was enjoying themselves and there was a nice vibe with the holiday spirit in full effect.

Tambo 22 exterior and sign

By now, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t gotten to the food yet. Well, it was a mixed bag with our group.

I loved my meal, although I found the the portion to be small. I finished the whole thing and didn’t have any leftovers. That’s quite unusual for me.

With slight edits, the menu describes my meal as “Salmon, Chancaca Y Rocoto: Skin on Salmon Filet, Raw Sugar Cane Rocoto Glaze, Yuca Frita, with Pickled Cabbage.” The glaze was sweet and a little spicy. The salmon was nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The cabbage was great and I loved the yuca too. I just wanted a bigger helping, so I could bring some home. Others had larger portions, but thought the food was just okay. Well, every restaurant isn’t for everybody.

I was the only one who wanted dessert, so I took it to go. I cannot pass up churros! Especially with dulce de leche.
churros with dulce de leche

When I got home, they were still a bit warm, but I warmed them up even more. The portion size was good and I only ate half. The taste was enjoyable, but I didn’t love them. Will I happily eat the rest of them today, though? Absolutely, yes!

Overall, it was a nice experience and I had a lot of fun. Will I drive over the Tobin Bridge at night to go here again? No. But that’s just me.

The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant

cranberry apple skillet cake at The Farmer's Daughter

The Cranberry + Apple Skillet Cake at The Farmer’s Daughter in Easton is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

On a scale of one to five stars, I give it six! The description sounds amazing: “cornmeal baked pancake. roasted cranberry. apple. pear. cider farm syrup + cinnamon honey butter” and it’s better than it sounds. It might sound like it could be too filling or too sweet. But it’s not. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and bits of sour with the cranberry. The amounts of fruit and pancake are perfectly balanced, so it’s not so dense that you couldn’t eat much.

It tastes amazing without the butter, but when you spread the butter on it and taste it, the experience elevates even higher. Like to a spiritual level.

The downside of The Farmer’s Daughter is that everyone wants to eat there. So there is a wait. And it was very cold this morning. Luckily, there is a decent amount of street parking and more parking behind the restaurant. Once you give your name, you can wait in your car and are called when a table is ready.

I was meeting a friend, who lives in the area, so she arrived first and started waiting for us. Once we were seated, we both ordered the Pumpkin Chai Latte.

pumpkin chai latte at The Farmer's Daughter

There is an extensive drink menu for brunch and the most beautiful concoctions kept parading by us as we watched in amazement.

Our lattes were very good, but we both thought they tasted like turmeric. Sort of looked like it too. Not sure what that was about.

Anyway, back to the skillet cake. It was so warm and made me appreciate the cold weather. When you’re warmed from the inside, that cozy feeling you get. Like you want to just snuggle in a blanket, watch a movie and enjoy being inside. That’s the feeling. I prefer the summer, but autumn and winter have a coziness that can’t be beat.

The menu is so creative, playful and inviting. The offerings are unique and make you feel appreciated as a customer. Like even though the owner doesn’t know us, she adores us anyway. What a wonderful experience. Just wow. And the service is wonderful too. Top notch. I’m looking forward to many more meals there.

Restaurant Rant: Not a Grain Bowl

Allegedly a grain bowl.

Am I insane for thinking that a grain bowl should have a decent proportion of, uh, grain?

I went out to dinner with friends on Saturday night to a Dorchester neighborhood bar and restaurant. I’m not going to name it, because I don’t like trashing places. The one time that I did, they kept contacting me to go back so they could make it up to me. I didn’t want to go back and the whole thing was very uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

But this has been sitting on my mind and bothering me for days now. The only way to get it out of my system is to write it out of me.

Looking at this dish pictured above, does this look like a grain bowl to you? It does not to me. It’s a green salad masquerading as a grain bowl. I know it’s almost Halloween, but I didn’t plan on getting tricked by my meal!

When I read the menu it seemed pretty straightforward. Here it is below from the website with slight descriptive edits.

“Grain Bowl: couscous, chickpeas, baby kale, feta cheese, cucumber, cherry tomato, Kalamata olives, pickled red onion, and tahini dressing with pan roasted salmon.”

The salmon was an extra that I added on, so the whole meal was $26.00. Not cheap, but a fairly typical price for dinner.

As someone who cooks a lot at home, I’m always very hopeful that what I have at a restaurant is way better or at least as good as what I could have prepared myself.

Based on the menu description, I expected that at the very least, a quarter to third of the dish would be grains and chickpeas. I often make this type of dish at home. I love harvest bowls! There was literally just a dusting of couscous and very few chickpeas underneath the greens. It was basically all greens.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had some not great meals at restaurants, so I haven’t written about them. But this just seemed ridiculous.

Overall, the meal was good. This green salad was good. It’s just not what I ordered and not what was described on the menu. I even told our server. She asked to take it back, but I said that a side of couscous would be fine. I expected to get a fairly generous portion. Maybe a half a cup? Instead, I received about a quarter cup, if that.

I was shocked. Did they run out of couscous? Rationing chickpeas? Was it a new cook who didn’t know what a grain bowl was and didn’t see the menu description? Good lord why?!

The place had a nice ambience, our server was very attentive and friendly, so I separated my thoughts about the meal from her tip. It wasn’t her fault.

I was so looking forward to a night out with friends. And the three of us had somehow managed to arrange this dinner at the last minute. It was like a miracle! I hadn’t seen them in a while and the most important part was our gathering together. With all that’s happening in the world, the news breaks our hearts a little more everyday.

But my sadness won’t make things any better. So it’s especially important to enjoy my loved ones while I can.

In the greater scheme of life, this grain bowl fiasco could not be more trivial. But the restaurant industry takes the customers as they find them and I was looking for at least what I had seen on the menu.

An Artist Date at Italian Cafe Gelato

If you’re a writer, then you’re probably familiar with Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and the idea of Morning Pages. I’m not a morning person. So writing first thing was never something that appealed to me. But the Artist Date. Now that’s something that I can get with. And so I did.

An Artist Date is supposed to become a weekly habit. Weekly may not happen. But I can try. Visiting cafes is one of my favorite things, so it’s definitely an easy way to get that date in. I’ve also ventured out a lot more since the pandemic, so I’m getting used to or maybe creating a new way of being out in the world again. I still wear a mask indoors at many public places. But I’m also eating out now, obviously without a mask. It feels a bit strange, but it also felt a bit strange when I first started wearing a mask. Doing the reverse will take an adjustment period too.

Last week the weather was more like July than April. So one night after work, I decided to take myself out for a gelato at Italian Cafe Gelato here in Quincy. They have so many delicious flavors to choose from. I taste tested a few and settled on the lemon ricotta. It was so good! Sweeter than I expected, and so creamy and cold. Just perfect.

One thing to be aware of if you go. Most places you can get a cover and take your gelato to go. You cannot get a cover to go unless you buy a pint. Rather odd. Oh well.

So I sat inside, and savored my gelato while looking outside the window at the pretty lights in the alley.

It was such a lovely night out, so I took my time heading back to my car and looked around the area. Over the past several years, I’ve noticed so many places going out of business. Noticed trees being cut down. The landscape of cities and towns changes every few decades. The stores that you see and go to everyday probably won’t be around in 25 years. It made me think that I should have taken more pictures of the ordinary 25 years ago.

Since I don’t have the option of time travel at this point, I figured I’d start taking those ordinary pictures now. Future me will be glad that I did.

This Sully’s sign is from a bygone era and probably won’t be around for too long. According to Eater Boston, the bar opened soon after Prohibition ended and closed in June 2018. I love these old signs, so I’ll try and capture them when I can.

A little past the Sully’s sign is Sergeant George Montilio Square. As someone with a huge sweet tooth, I immediately though of George Montilio of Montilio’s Bakery. But it seemed that he would be way too young to have served in World War II. Maybe it was his father?

So after taking this picture, I did some research. George, the famous baker, just recently turned 70, so that definitely was not him. His father started the bakery 76 years ago, but his name was Ernest Montilio. The Square is named after an Army Sergeant who “died of wounds” on April 17, 1945. Well, that’s odd. Just realized that today is April 17th as well!

The Hall of Valor Project website states that Sergeant George Montilio received the Distinguished Service Cross, “[F]or extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company H, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, in France. As a volunteer scout, Corporal Montilio carried out an assault on a footbridge under intense machine gun and small arms fire. Though the bridge was held by a superior number of the enemy, his daring and aggressiveness forced them to withdraw and thereby permitted his unit to organize and hold their objective.”

* * *

When I decided to go out for gelato, I didn’t realize that I was doing an Artist Date until afterwards and I thought about it. This type of practice really does bring about creativity and some learning along the way.

Since George Montilio is not a very common name, I wonder if he was part of the same family. Considering he was from this area, it seems likely that he could have been a relative. Maybe the current George was named after him? I guess it’s family history that he probably knows.

Rest in peace, Sergeant Montilio, and thank you for your service.