Category: restaurants


By , June 20, 2007 13:38

How did it end up in East Boston? – by Anna

From London to Boston’s North End, Italian-born Chef Pietro Delviscovo has serenaded some of the most demanding of palates. Situated now in East Boston, Chef Delviscovo’s Italian cuisine includes his signature hand-crafted pasta, savory seafood, grilled meats, and homemade desserts. Saffron, the ancient aromatic spice much sought in dishes worldwide (and hence the restaurant’s name Zafferano), adds delightful zing to several of Pietro’ s dishes and brings an unusual but not un-authentic flavor of Italy to the dinner table.

The ambiance of Zafferano is elegantly understated. Crisp linen tablecloths, impeccable table-ware, cool tiled floors, and peach-colored walls make for a welcome and quiet reprieve from the 747’s lowering their landing gear towards Logan Airport just meters above. Which brings us to the question as to why a first class chef ended up in this particular East Boston neighborhood in the first place.

Well let’s just say that certain politicians have been selling East Boston as the next big sure-bet wonder Mecca, ‘conveniently located just a few metro stops from Boston’, for some time now. But with a $1.3 billion dollar state deficit at hand, many of the urban revitalization projects meant to lure young professionals and first-time home buyers into the area have not kept pace with the hopes of entrepreneurs who took an early plunge into the neighborhood. Faltering sub-prime loans don’t do much to foster restaurant patronage either. Translation: I would venture to guess that Zafferano is rarely full on any given night. And frankly, the corner on which Zafferano finds itself feels a little like a highway rest stop half-way between where you came from and where you want t o be. This is a shame because Zafferano is a gem of a restaurant deserving of a more inviting (and lucrative) location.

But there we were on a Thursday night — four of ten patrons in a restaurant that has a seating capacity of forty-nine. The good news is that the restaurant has great feng shui and so it does not feel uncomfortable even with so few guests present. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend going to Zafferano with people you like and can rely on for lively conversation given that the alternative, an atrabilious silence interrupted only by the occasional clank of silverware, might prove deadly.

Now how to describe delicious… Let’s start by mopping up (with fresh-made bread) the perfect duet of oil/balsamic dressing that still lingered on my plate from what was a delectable grilled calamari and shrimp antipasto served on baby romaine greens ($12). Just to note, the calamari is served sans tentacles but in bulbous pieces atop the greens. I usually prefer my eight-armed cephalopod mollusk camouflaged to not look like the ugly creature it is but any aesthetic reservations were soon put to rest by the tender succulence of the meat, sliced effortlessly with fork and knife. Meanwhile, hubby had the minestrone soup — a reminder that market-fresh ingredients, fine preparation, and a sprinkle of love sure do make for good soup and loud slurpy sounds emanating next to me.

For the main course I found myself in the typical Libra-esque conundrum of being torn between too many choices (entrées range from $15 – $32). Figuring that the badge of a good Italian restaurant is its carbs (something I think some of my Italian friends would vigorously dispute), I went with the seafood risotto while my girlfriend tried the fresh-made pasta and marinara sauce. To say the least, neither of us was disappointed and we were particularly impressed by her al dente-perfect, hand-twisted rotini drizzled with a fresh and zesty marinara. My husband opted for the fan of Angus Sirloin steak with asparagus tips, and my girlfriend’s husband went with the wild mushroom risotto. These later mentioned dishes were purportedly excellent as well though our eating mates never offered us a bite and so I must confess that this particular part of the review is based entirely on reasoned conjecture that a regressive primal instinct to hoard selfishly that which is really, really high-quality was at play.

Of course, were Zafferano to move to a swankier location than its present East Boston one, their rent would also skyrocket. Everything else would go up with it and the affordable range of wines (between $15 -$45) would not be quite as affordable as they are now. All totaled, we spent around $110 per couple. This included pre-dinner drinks for two, a bottle of wine, three appetizers, four entrées, and a round of port for dessert. Also included was a bit of conversation with the owner (a.k.a Pietro) and his lovely wife, Giuseppina, who like to visit with guests to make sure they have enjoyed the meal. Apropos dessert, Pietro makes these as well but as tempting as a liqueur-infused sponge cake topped with a silky cream glaze sounded, we were all just too pleasantly full to go the last round.

Zafferano is a first-class, must-go-to restaurant which I hope will retain its authentic flavor no matter what location they may one day find themselves. Zafferano is located at 999 Saratoga St., East Boston, MA 02128. Tel.: 617.785.0987. Website: Zafferano Restaurant. Hours of operation are Mon.–Wed., 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Thur.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Reservations optional.

Woodman’s of Essex

By , March 29, 2006 19:55

I’m reposting a slightly editied version of a restaurant review I wrote for Yelp a while ago.


I’ve traded in my sunburned white skin for golden fried Essex River clams!!! Living in southern California good clams were hard to come by!

Opened in 1914, Woodman’s made a major dent in American cuisine. It’s undisputed folklore that Chubby Woodman served the first fried clam at the same shack that you can visit today. At the time Chubby was selling fresh clams, fruit and homemade potato chips. One Woodman’s customer suggested that since their potato chips tasted so good deep fried, why not the clams. The fried clam was born. Arguably the best fried clams you’ll ever have will be served at Woodman’s.

woodmans woodmans_flag

The shack has grown somewhat since 1914. They have an upper dining deck, room for receptions in the back and a rather large gift shop. Nice selection of gifts, but the shop has given Woodman’s a more commercialized look and feel. Kinda touristy, which is not at all what I desire after living in southern California, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

The decor is what you might expect from an old time New England clam shack. Walk-up counter and old wood picnic tables and benches. Cash only, no cards. No cards!? In this day and age? Who carries cash when the debit card is king? I usually order a combo plate of fried clams, fried scallops, french fries and onion rings. The clams and scallops are TO DIE FOR. Lightly battered and fried in lard. A gut bomb, but well worth it. The problem is that it’s a bit pricier than the average clam shack in the area.


If lobster is what you want, go somewhere else. I’ve seen them serve pre-boiled, re-heated lobsters here. I DON’T THINK SO!! If you want fried clams, this place is tough to beat. Luckily, I live about five miles away and I can come home quickly and pass out after eating so much fried shellfish. Yankees suck!