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Finding Rome in the South End: Cinquecento Roman Trattoria


Finding Rome in the South End: Cinquecento Roman Trattoria


Photos and Words by The Trio

Judging from our previous reviews, you might think that The Trio only eats brunch food and burgers. This may come as a shock, but on Tuesday night, we made an exception for the South End’s Cinquecento Roman Trattoria. Trading in our eggs Benedict and waffles for sea bass and ravioli, The Trio indulged in an exquisite Italian meal.

Cinquecento made a grand statement right from the start. Walking to the door of the restaurant takes you down a brick alley reminiscent of a back road in the city of Rome. Spelled out in gigantic block letters on one of the walls is the restaurant's name. Just before reaching the entrance, the alley opens up into a cool outdoor patio. Although in true Boston fashion, it was pouring on the night we went, we agreed that the patio would be the perfect place to spend a weekend afternoon (The Trio envisioned themselves enjoying brunch here on a SoWa Sunday).

As we walked up the staircase, we were met with modern-industrial decor. A large chandelier with Edison light bulbs illuminated the entrance, and poles lined with bottles of Campari gave off an ambient red hue. The low lighting in the the dining area coupled with dark brown leather booths created a relaxed atmosphere that welcomed good food and good company. Atop each table sat a bottle of Pellegrino, a candle, and elegant place settings.

Within minutes, a friendly waiter came over to our table with a slew of recommendations and answers to our inquiries about the menu, which was mostly in Italian. As per his recommendation, we began our meal with Carciofi alla Giudia (fried baby artichokes with lemon and salsa verde). Within minutes of the dish's speedy arrival, it was gone. Although Marisa (the Vegetable Queen) has eaten a lot of artichokes in her day, she has never had any quite like these. The artichoke hearts were fried to perfection, and their crispness only added to the incredible seasoning they were dressed with (Amanda and Jordan couldn’t resist dipping slices of fresh bread into the remnants of the appetizer). After such an impressive first course, The Trio could hardly wait for more.

In typical Jordan fashion, she started in the middle of the menu jumping from item to item. The words “beet” and "goat cheese" caught her eye, and she immediately made her decision. When the Ravioli Di Barbabietola arrived, Jordan was greeted by a bright plate of food. When she cut into the first ravioli, a vibrant magenta filling spilled out. The dish was the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The combination of sweet beets and savory goat cheese and balsamic left Jordan very content with her choice and very full.

Amanda never met a gnocchi she didn’t like, so as soon as she spotted Gnocchi Con Coniglio on the menu, she placed her order. Because she has the most adventurous palate of The Trio, it was no surprise that she picked a dish with such a unique range of ingredients: braised rabbit, roasted corn, pancetta, and pecorino cheese. As Amanda quickly began to clear her plate, one word kept appearing in her thoughts: home. In her eyes, the dish was the essence of comfort food, and its warmth was much welcomed on that frigid, rainy Boston night.

Marisa chose the dish that their waiter deemed the most popular entrée: Branzino Con Scarola Brasata E Funghi (Mediterranean sea bass, escarole, and wild mushrooms). It only took one bite for her to see why it was so highly rated. The skin was impeccably crispy, but the fish underneath remained perfectly tender. The sea bass was placed on top of a combination of escarole and wild mushrooms that tied everything together and created a flavor so exquisite that it made it impossible for her to leave any on the plate (allowing her to retain her title as President of the Clean Plate Club).

In addition to their amazing entrées, The Trio could not resist ordering a side of Brussels Sprouts Cacio E Pepe after the waiter described it. It is no easy feat to prepare the Vegetable Queen's favorite veggies, but Cinquecento's Brussels sprouts passed Marisa’s test with flying colors. Like everything The Trio ate that night, the side was delectable and wonderfully seasoned.

Finally, it was time for the cherry on top: dessert. Though the members of The Trio see eye to eye on many subjects, dessert is one in which their preferences vary considerably. Though Marisa was feeling the panna cotta, Jordan wanted the tiramisu. Ever the mediator, Amanda suggested the Bittersweet Chocolate Budino and after consulting with the waiter, there was no doubt in their minds that this was the way to go. Amanda had the honor of digging into the lava cake first, allowing the fudgy, chocolatey center to run freely. By the end of dessert, The Trio mastered the art of creating the perfect bite: some of that gooey chocolate center, a bit of chocolate cake, and a dash of whipped cream. In addition to the cake, the manager also gave The Trio a trio of gelato scoops: mint, salted caramel, and vanilla. It was impossible to decide which flavor was best; each member of The Trio had their own favorite.

The Trio left that evening in agreement that Cinquecento’s accommodating service, chic decor, and flavorful food had made for one of the best fine dining experiences any of them have had in Boston.

**Our meal was provided courtesy of Cinquecento, but this article only contains the honest and true opinions of The Trio.**