Benedetto

Last week, my sister (the best person ever) let me pick the restaurant for her birthday dinner. She has a special love for Italian food, so I sat out to find a top-notch Italian restaurant in her area.

Benedetto came up as an early favorite; it’s the new restaurant in the uber-fancy Charles Hotel, it’s on all the best new restaurant lists, and they make all their own pasta and bread in house.

It seemed like a slam dunk, so I ran the idea by my family. Everyone was pumped.

We came hungry and impulsively ordered a bunch of sfizi (appetizers, but I use their term to prove a point: everything this place does is super conscious and dressed-up).

First bite: Brussels sprouts

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Like all the appetizers we tried, these were great. Very familiar, but the rest of the menu could have used a bit more familiarity. Served with some other light veggies, they were nicely toasted and tender on the inside. We devoured them.

We tried two crostini as well; one had chives, bergamot cream and trout, the other had ricotta cheese and pistachio. Like the house-made focaccia bread, both were airy and super tasty, even if they were glorified crackers. The pistachios were delicious.

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Best Bite: Fresh burrata with prosciutto, fennel, apples and homemade croutons

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This was an outstanding and unique take on basic burrata; the cheese was butter soft, the prosciutto was thin and lean and delicate, the veggies were fresh and not overdressed, and the apples were so good I had to ask the waiter what kind they were and where I could get some (Norton Spy / super-duper rare seasonal apples from a tiny local farm). I’m sad I’ll probably never see them again.

Unfortunately, that was the peak of our meal, and it was far too early.

I had half of two entrees, first, the mixed grill – hanger steak, pork belly chop, and lamb sausage.

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This mouth-watering plate was a bit disappointing. I’m not a huge steak guy, but everyone who tried agreed that this one was disappointingly bland. The pork belly chop was pretty tasty and really tender, but so fatty that there was barely any meat after you cut off the fat. Thankfully, the lamb sausage was absolute fire, good enough to redeem the whole dish.

The other entree I split, fazzoletti pasta with foraged mushrooms and truffles, was more disappointing.

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Despite its ugly presentation, this was the most expensive pasta on the menu, and our awesome waiter passionately recommended it. Presumably, it cost so much because of the truffles, but I couldn’t really taste them. The mushrooms were good but unspectacular. And the pasta was the same.

The rest of our table liked their meals, but thought they were a bit superflous; bolognese with chicken livers mixed in, for example. Everyone agreed their pasta was very good but not world-altering, the way our waiter pitched it when he pointed to the table where they make it every day, in plain view of every table in the restaurant.

For dessert, we split a “Gianduja chocolate mousse with chocolate hazelnut sable” and a bunch of other bells and whistles like poached pear and black currant puree. It was definitely pretty:

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It was very good chocolate mousse. It also cost 14 bucks. I’ll take a Mcflurry 10 times out of 10.

TL;DR: We had a good time, but this place was over-priced and over-thought.

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