We are seated at a marble topped table in the rustic-contemporary dining room of SRV, the South End’s newest offering, located at 569 Columbus Avenue. Fresh from the Pitti Immagine Uomo exhibit in Florence, my husband, Andrew, and our guest for the evening, Joey Glazer, pause before opening the menu to soak in the ambiance. Joey, a fashion consultant for the Italian design-house Castangia, explains the Italian penchant for combining the old with the new in everything from fashion to dining. SRV is no exception; here traditional Venetian fare is updated with a modern twist, blending flawlessly with the rustic-meets-contemporary decor.
A sucker for blended design, I eagerly survey the room. Soft, recessed lighting illuminates a rustic rope wine rack filled with alluring vintages suspended above a plush high-backed bench running along the exposed brick wall. The industrial open ceilings, fresh neutral walls and dark reclaimed-wood floors viewed through wide, black-framed, floor to ceiling windows draw the attention of the neighborhood’s eclectic passerby as they walk down Columbus. Joey remarks on how the turning heads make SRV feel both exclusive and accessible–and I couldn’t agree more. The music permeating the dining room is an ideal compliment to the restaurant’s hip, relaxed atmosphere with smooth, contemporary jazz tracks like Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” mixing with classics like Etta James’s “At Last.”
After placing an order off the Cicchetti menu, our meal begins with a toast–Aperol Spritz of course–to my companions’ successful trip to Florence. Pitti Immagine Uomo (Men’s Fashion Collections) is a renowned exhibition dedicated to promoting the men’s fashion industry worldwide. This year marked my husband’s first Pitti, an experience he describes as exhilarating, exhausting, and inspiring. Joey jokes that he is a “Pitti Pro,” causing Andrew to name his Italian heritage an unfair advantage.
Their good-natured banter is interrupted by the arrival of our first course. We assemble our plates with selections from each dish, commenting on the artful presentation. I take a bite of the polpette–a perfectly sized meatball blended with pork and beef–that melts in my mouth. My husband and Joey are similarly enjoying the baccala mantecato and scallop crudo, praising the quality and freshness of the ingredients.
Our conversation turns to discussing Italy itself, a subject I have not yet personally experienced. Both Joey and my husband agree that while many Italian cities have adapted to modern times, they take care to retain their traditional integrity. The same can be said of SRV; though opened a mere three weeks ago, the space feels timeless. Unsurprisingly, co-owners and co-executive chefs Kevin O’Donnell and Michael Lombardi have trained in kitchens across Italy, allowing them to imbue their food with passion, tradition, and modernity.
As if on cue, our orders off the Piatti menu are delivered: vongole alla pescatora, duck breast, and dry aged beef. While each are delicious, I particularly enjoy the duck breast; tender, buttery, and cooked to a perfect medium rare, the duck rests on top a bed of expertly seasoned cavolo sofegao, salsify, and black garlic. Andrew–a steak aficionado–favors the dry aged beef presented atop roasted cipollini, brassicas, and bagna cauda. Not to be outdone, Joey demonstrates his satisfaction with the vongole alla pescatora by clearing his plate in record time.
I am feeling quite full when my interest is sparked by the arrival of our choices off the Grani menu, which include: a traditional gnocchi made with tender lamb neck, kalette, and a creamy yogurt, a unique casunziei filled with beet and ricotta puree, and a surprisingly black dish aptly named “squid ink” risotto. Despite my dislike of beets, I nibble on the casunziei and find that it is absolutely delicious and my favorite dish of the night. Joey, a true Northern Italian, is similarly enthralled with the rustic flavors of the lamb gnocchi. Andrew bravely tries the squid ink risotto, describing how the color and flavor combine to make up a truly unique and tasty dish.
After dinner is cleared away we are left with a difficult question; gelato or tiramisu? The answer is both, always both. SRV makes their gelato in-house–offering creamy, rich flavors such as chocolate amaretto, stracciatella, and mascarpone fig. The tiramisu is equally indulgent with layers of custard topped with a dusting of fine cocoa. Contentment and awe my foremost emotions, I lay down my spoon and neatly fold my napkin, placing it next to my clean plate.
It is barely 7:00 on a Monday evening and the dining room is filled with hungry patrons eager to partake in the modern Italian fare. We are about to leave when I run into a server–short auburn hair, exuberant personality, instantly likeable–recognizing her as a former classmate, I am struck by the small-town feeling of Boston yet again. The industrious clink of cutlery punctuating the conversations of families and friends follow us out the door–already SRV has become a familiar gathering place.
Shoe lovers rejoice; premiere footwear designer Christian Louboutin offers one-of-a-kind, totally unique, custom made shoes (featuring the signature red lacquered sole of course). Opened in response to the growing demand for made to measure shoes, Minuit Moins 7 is located on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, just down the street from his ready to wear boutique. The atelier specializes in creating custom made shoes for A-list celebrities, the discerning bride-to-be, and the Louboutin-addicted Carrie Bradshaws of the world.
70 of Louboutin’s most faithful regulars—Sofia Coppola, Zoe Cassavetes, Arielle Dombasle, Liliane Bettencourt and Toni Morrison among them—have given his bespoke service a whirl. In order to join the star-studded ranks of shoe nirvana an appointment must be made with Madame Hebert, the atelier’s first point of contact. Madame Hebert will schedule a time with the head of the workshop, Fred Rolland. While the total cost of a custom Louboutin depends on materials and the intricacy of design, the initial fee is $3,400. To start, Rolland takes a mold of the foot and crafts a wooden form in a process that takes five weeks. The casts are saved, but every time a customer orders a shoe in a new heel height, a new cast must be made. Next, a series of expert fittings ensure that the shape is just right. Finally, the addition of embellishments completes a perfectly unique shoe. If complete customization is too daunting, a shoe selected from Louboutin’s existing collection can be custom made, tweaked for color and materials, and will cost 25 percent more than the regular price. For an appointment, call 33-1/42-36-05-31
Holiday Gift Guide/2015
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is already upon us. Time to trim the tree, mail your holiday cards, attend your company’s secret santa party (make sure to spike your eggnog), wrap your gifts, and try to avoid singing along to that holiday music that seems to follow you everywhere. You’ll be too busy shoveling snow and binge eating sugar cookies while watching It’s A Wonderful Life on repeat to worry about shopping, so leave that to us. We put together this season’s most wanted gifts for everyone on your naughty and nice list; making braving the malls easier than complementing your mother-in-law’s annual fruit cake.
The Third Piece/2015
In fashion, the “rule of threes” says that an ensemble is not complete without three statement pieces. Aptly named online boutique, The Third Piece, caters to that last elusive outfit-finishing element with unique handcrafted knitwear. Located in South Boston and the brainchild of local residents Carina Donoso and Karen Lambert, The Third Piece is elevating grandma’s knitting circle to high fashion by offering seasonal collections that focus on bringing the art of knit craft to the mainstream. Created to be “stylish, innovative, and luxurious,” the shop boasts everything from cold weather staples like infinity scarves and fingerless mittens to transitional outerwear like ponchos and chunky sweaters—all made to order by local Boston “piecemakers.” Each item is handmade with some taking up to ten hours to create. The craftsmanship is evident in the careful selection of quality yarns and intricate patterns that combine to create the perfect finishing touch. Find yours at www.the3rdpeice.com