Monday, June 18, 2012

Umami: Asian Inspiration in a Bistro Setting

Fusion cuisine is a tricky concept. It's like a clever bait-and-switch, but more so than a simple substitution of one ingredient or side dish for another. Emergent fusion flavors should give a nod to both of their parents, entirely complementary, yet entirely unique. It's an adventure to discover one flavor hiding where another usually lives.  

At Brookline's Umami, the focus is on savory Asian-inspired tastes that meld with traditional French bistro fare. In 2010, after leaving Thai restaurant Khao Sarn, Japanese Chef Yoshi Hakamoto opened Umami with his wife, Nomun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pizzeria Dante: The classics, with a bit of creativity

There are dozens of different types of pizza, and each with their own proponents, but there's one thing we can all agree on: a well-made pie is a thing of beauty.  And something beautiful can be found at Pizzeria Dante, a casual restaurant just outside of Coolidge Corner, with bright red walls and a checkerboard ceiling of emerald and mint green. A loyal delivery and takeout crowd means relative quiet, and seats available for the taking.  Lucky you.
The menu purports to offer "real New York pizza," those wide, thin-crust slices that almost require folding to allow a bite. As the restaurant's name implies, pizzas are the specialty here, and the Margherita is at the top of the charts. Legend has it that when Italian Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889, a pizza maker served her a pie redolent of the Italian flag: scarlet tomato, snowy mozzarella, and bright green basil. This favorite still hasn't lost its charm. Here, tangy and flavorful tomato sauce is laid thick over a chewy crust.