A Family Affair: Traditional Italian Dinner at Antico Forno
This week, The Trio dined at Antico Forno in Boston’s Little Italy. Antico Forno is billed as “The Most Authentic Italian Restaurant,” serving world-class traditional Italian cuisine. With last names like Catapano and Barone (fun fact: the fifth most popular last name in Italy), Marisa and Amanda were looking forward to seeing how Antico Forno shaped up to the homemade Italian cooking they know and love.
At first glance, The Trio could see why Antico Forno had built such a highly esteemed reputation. Upon entering the restaurant, The Trio felt like they were transported to southern Italy. The light fixtures in the dining area gave off a warm and welcoming yellow hue that enveloped us into the “cozy mom-and-pop atmosphere.” Jordan instantly noted that her favorite aspect of the decor was by far the brick arches that ran through the center of the restaurant. After settling into our seats, the Trio began to fully take in the entire restaurant. The diners spanned from young families, to co-workers, to single adults enjoying the bar, and of course friends; all of whom came to enjoy real italian food and good conversation. As the night went on, and after the consumption of some alcohol, the dining area was alive. The Trio found themselves being reminded of dinners at home where boisterous conversation always took place around great dishes.
We were greeted warmly by an attentive server. Although we were quite hungry, we had decided beforehand not to order any appetizers, anticipating Italian portions and preparing ourselves for a predetermined dessert. We got right down to very important business: placing our dinner entrees.
Though Marisa and Jordan were pretty set on their orders, Amanda was on the fence between a few different options. However, when the waiter recited the specials for the night, all previous considerations went out the window. The words “lobster ravioli” were all she needed to hear to seal the deal. The ravioli was served with shrimp in a large dish, all generously covered with a pink cream sauce. It was a plate of a few of Amanda’s favorite things. The fresh pasta was delectable, but the lobster and cheese filling was even better. After finishing every single ravioli on the plate (and believe us, there were quite a few), she made the brilliant decision to dip bread into the remaining sauce. Magnifico.
In the spirit of family traditions, Marisa ordered one of Antico Forno’s most esteemed entrees and one of her father’s favorite dishes: Saltimbocca di Pollo. She received a more than generous helping of chicken (like any respectable Italian dish) topped with Parma prosciutto and fontina cheese, drenched in a Madeira mushroom wine sauce. The chicken was tender and the sauce divine. The cheese, prosciutto, and mushroom sauce all came together in a way that made Marisa think the only thing that could make the meal better would be if her father was there to share it with her.
Going into the meal Jordan knew there was only one dish she could order when entering an italian restaurant: pizza. Upon reading over Antico Forno’s extensive list of pizzas, she settled on the Tradizionale. I mean anything titled traditional had to be exceptional, right? To make her even more excited about her choice, Jordan found out that their brick-oven was built by a man from Naples, Italy and was the first of its kind in the North End. This pizza was going to be as authentic as it could get. When it arrived, it was a thing of pure beauty. It was piled high with homemade Italian sausage and pepperoni, onions, and whats a pizza without cheese: homemade mozzarella. The creaminess of the cheese was balanced nicely by the saltiness of the sausage, which was all brought together by the unbelievable crispy crust. This pie truly lived up to the hype surrounding Antico Forno’s brick-oven pizzas.
After their meals were finished, it was time for the highly anticipated dessert. There was no need for a dessert menu, as Marisa had done her usual research and knew what they absolutely had to order: the Dolce pizza. With all of the eating out that The Trio does, it takes a lot for a dish to truly “wow” us, but this was love at first sight. As soon as the huge pizza landed on the table, all jaws dropped to the floor. With chocolate hazelnut nutella, bananas, strawberries, and sweetened ricotta cheese artfully arranged on a sweet pizza dough and covered in confectioner’s sugar, it was a masterpiece. As each of us took our first bites, gigantic smiles spread across our faces and we contemplated whether or not we had just entered heaven.