The first thing that drew my dinner companion and I to Ferrara's was its open front; they have a large bay window that opens out onto Salem St., and in nice weather they open it up and allow the place to breathe a bit, a feature that I thoroughly enjoy. Upon entering, I noticed that, while it was not bright inside by any means, it was not so dim as to nearly require a flashlight to even read the menu, a trend that I cannot stand. It was, in fact, perfectly lit, allowing a good view of the entire dining room and bar, where we sat, but without any glaring lights. Behind the bar are a pair of flat screen televisions, which offered a chance to watch Peyton Manning kick his little brother's butt all over the field; always an enjoyable experience.
Our bartender was friendly, knew at least a bit about beer and was happy to engage with us without ever becoming, in my mind, overly intrusive or omnipresent. Speaking of beer, they had only a few options on tap, including a Sam Adams seasonal and the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, which had just been added. Since there was nothing new or exciting, we both went with the Dogfish.
As for food, the kitchen kept up well with the positive impression the layout and bartender had given initially. I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, among my favorite dishes in the world, and my date
|Spaghetti Carbonara served in a stainless pan|
The gnocchi in my date's dish were sublime, perfect little pillows, with just enough density that they felt substantial but not nearly so much that they felt heavy. The mozzarella in the dish was solid, but nothing amazing, though it worked well in combination with the sauce and the gnocchi. The sauce itself was a little sweet for me, so when I first tasted it, with just the gnocchi and no cheese, I was not super thrilled. After adding some mozzarella, I enjoyed it more, as the salt of the cheese did help balance the sweetness of the sauce, but if you are not going to have cheese in every bite (which you will not with this dish) then that is not a saving grace.
The last thing to say about the food is that I must comment on how they serve it, supposedly in the dish it was cooked in. While I highly doubt this, as the pan mine was served in was far too clean along the sides to have really cooked such a messy meal (trust me, I've been trying for a while now to make a proper version; I'm at about a D+ right now, passing but nothing to be proud of), but it looks neat. It is a gimmick, but sometimes gimmicks work, and I must say, I really liked this one. The price was ridiculously reasonable as well; before tip, we were at $39, which for two entrees and two beers is insanely cheap in this neighborhood, especially when the food is so good. Admittedly, we did get the two cheapest entrees, but that was purely accidental, as they just happened to be what we wanted. I would have gladly paid significantly more for the same meal, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the check. All in all, I highly recommend Ferrara's, and I will absolutely consider a return, though with the incredible breadth of options in the North End, it may be hard to justify not trying something else.
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