Monday, May 16, 2011

Delfino Brings Tastes of Italy to Roslindale

We’ve all heard this storyline before: you know, the one about the cozy neighborhood that’s legendary in stature, but only to its local residents, while it remains more or less anonymous to less fortunate diners outside of the area. Think Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain before others caught wind of it and has since expanded into Cambridge given the demand to get in. Roslindale’s Delfino fits this profile to a T. One would assume that given its generous portions of simple, yet well executed dishes that are even more generous in flavor, that the restaurant would be a household name across the state. It surprisingly isn’t.

Perhaps this is partly attributed to its tucked-away location in Roslindale Village, or even its relatively small interior dining room, non-existant waiting area, and no-reservations policy (be prepared to wait 1-2 hours unless you call ahead). And the décor is not Delfino’s strongsuit, either, unless cheesy wall murals of fruit and vegetables along with paper tablecloths tickle your fancy.

But oh, the food has a wonderful way of converting all of the non-believers. Our cordial server impressively recites the evening menu’s specials, down to the last ingredient. The meal is terrifically paced, allowing friendly conversation, wine, and flavors on the palate to linger just long enough throughout the evening.

One appetizer special of a tuna tartare – served in a martini glass – is abundant in volume and taste, mixed with avocado, cherry tomatoes and lime juice. This was the version I’d anticipated but sadly never received two weeks prior at the much more acclaimed Radius. As for entrees, another special of halibut was well cooked in a white wine sauce reduction. My veal marsala tenderloin, cooked perfectly medium rare, may have been one of the finest cuts I’ve sampled in some time, possessing very little fat that often bogs down other versions. Its wild mushroom Marsala sauce was rich in flavor, as was the herb risotto, which was a tad heavy given the denseness of the sauce (although still quite good). House-made pappardelle – ribbon noodles tossed with shrimp and arugula in pink sauce, sounds simple in preparation, but let me assure you is the closest I’ll ever get to my Italian grandmother’s (if I was Italian, that is!) homemade pasta.

A subtle, not overpowering chocolate bread pudding and house-made tiramisu provide wonderful closure to a fine meal.

As we depart, the maitre’d graciously ushers us out and asks us to come again. I almost feel like politely pulling him aside and asking, “Are you sure us outsiders are welcomed back?” I now feel at home here, amongst the locals.

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