You were probably thinking of 16th-Century Italy when you heard the word Cinquecento, right? That was my first thought too.
Italy, yes, but in this context it’s an Italian restaurant in the South End of Boston, appropriately labeled an “authentic Roman trattoria.” The name refers not to the Renaissance but to the restaurant’s address, 500 Harrison Ave.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this wonderful restaurant. Barbara and I went there yesterday evening to celebrate our anniversary, as we no longer have a permanent location for the occasion (ever since the beloved Icarus closed about eight years ago or so). Though too pricey to be one of our regular twice-a-month dining spots, Cinquecento is the perfect place to return to for special occasions. Barbara started with six oysters, which she found plump and delicious; my starter was carciofi all guidía, a.k.a. artichokes Jewish Style but described in the menu as “Fried Baby Artichokes with Salsa Verde” — close enough. These were amazingly good but far too plentiful, so I had to take half of them home.
For an entree, Barbara had fettuccine ai funghi e tartufi and I had bucatini all’ amatriciana, both of which were first-rate but again there was too much to eat. (Are you detecting a certain theme here? Lots of leftovers!) We should have skipped dessert at this point, but I’m glad we saved a bit of room for sharing a bittersweet chocolate budino (what’s with the sudden admixture of English here?). This warm and rich dessert was reminiscent of fallen chocolate cake, or chocolate pudding cake, but was altogether more delicious than either. As it was our anniversary, they threw in a scoop of salted caramel ice cream gratis.
Service was gracious and perfect. And then there was the free parking, a rarity in the South End!