M.C. Spiedo opened in the Seaport District this winter, replacing 606 Congress with a touch of Renaissance drama. A restaurant is reborn, then.
This ain't your mom and pop Italian. Dominating one corner of the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in the old 606 Congress space, M.C. Spiedo is more Medici opulence than lasagna comfort. The vast room has enormous baroque-patterned chandeliers, wine-y colored natural cherry wood tables, and dramatic crimson drapes shading booths. However, with daylight extended, the glass walls and seaport views steal some design thunder.
Behind this new restaurant are James Beard Award-winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, who appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters Season 4, practically created homegrown farm to table cooking with their Arrows complex in Maine, which closed last fall. Their bar and bistro, MC Perkins in Ogunquit, remains open, and 606’s Wallace Christopher remains at M.C. Spiedo as chef de cuisine.
The restaurant’s menu is, like much modern western living, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, with spiedo (spee-a-dough), or spit-roasting, a highlight. Skewered Block Island swordfish has a blood orange sauce, which offsets the rich flesh with sweet citrus flavors. Leonardo's Notebook Salad is based on a shopping list he allegedly wrote--how do we know the ingredients were for a salad and not his pet rabbit’s dinner, though? Anyway, lucky rabbit, because the combination of bitter leaves, herbs, garlic, fennel and sharp vinaigrette forms a wonderful strong funky flavor. The pastas and pizzas are equally exciting and individual: M.C. Tagliatelle has Guinea hen meat, fat cipollini onions, finely shredded kale, and is finished with pecorino; while the schiacciatta pizza pairs pancetta with crunchy walnuts and is finished with a sunny-side-up fried egg. The best thing is, like those lush drapes, each ingredient adds to the whole dish without overwhelming.
There’s a touch of drama about M.C. Spiedo, though. No sooner are you settled into your seat and sipping something from the all-Italian wine list then a cart is wheeled tableside laden with various antipasti. There are Lima beans, lightly oiled and flavored with herbs, marinated olives, various salumi, and super luscious melt-off-the-fork burrata drizzled with olive oil. End with richly flavored 1500s Firenze cheesecake, baked with candied fruits and fragrant spices. There is no cheesecake like traditional Italian cheesecake.
If You Go: M.C. Spiedo Ristorante & Bar -- Entrees: $19-$28. 606 Congress St., Boston. 617-476-5606. www.MCSpiedoBoston.com