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Twenty-First Century Cuisine in a Nineteenth Century Environment

Scampo, Boston, MA - Restaurant Review

By Peter F. Demers | December 19, 2011

Inside Scampo

The Boston restaurant scene of today is a far cry from the days of old when it was known primarily for Boston baked beans and clam chowder.

Today some of the finest restaurants in the world operating under the supervision of world class chefs have made the city’s restaurant scene a must for both visitors and locals.

Lobster Pizza Crab

One of the chefs who has been at the forefront of this culinary revolution is Lydia Shire, owner of Towne Stove and Spirits (the 2011 winner of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” award) and Scampo, which won the same award three years earlier.

A Brookline, Massachusetts native, Shire who began shucking oysters and slicing pate at one of Boston’s most revered restaurant, Maison Robert, is a graduate of London’s acclaimed Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Returning to Maison Robert after finishing school, she became head chef of what was one of the most prestigious dining rooms in Boston.

Working in some of Boston’s best new and established restaurants throughout the eighties, she earned the James Beard “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage” in 1984, and the James Beard “Top Five Chefs in the US” a few years later.

When the Boston’s Charles Street Jail, originally built in 1851, was ordered shut down and officially closed in 1990, the facility was purchased by Massachusetts General Hospital and under the direction of some incredibly creative architects converted into the luxurious Liberty Hotel.

Any restaurant opening in that facility had to aspire to the same level of creativity and inspiration that changed the nineteenth century jail to a luxury hotel, and it was only natural that Lydia Shire was the one to do it.

Diners at Scampo

Scampo serves Italian inspired cuisine that draws upon Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors.

With her head chef, Simon Restropo, Shire looks to create foods that as much as possible rely on seasonal ingredients.

For example, she’ll call up Keith Marden from Captain Marden’s Seafood and ask what fresh fish is available, like sea urchins in January and February, and create several dishes using them.

The contemporary space features shiny copper lamps, a glowing orange bar and stools overlooking a mozzarella bar, setting the stage for house-made breads baked in a tandoori oven, pastas that surpass red sauce norms and entrées that turn simple ingredients into extraordinary experiences.

The wine list complements the food with ready-to-drink varieties from mostly small Italian and American producers.

Spaghetti with Cracklings and Hot Peppers

A secluded sixty seat outdoor patio is open during warm weather months, while a fifty seat private dining room features an exciting view of the open kitchen. Serving lunch, dinner, late night dining and brunch, Scampo is a can’t-miss destination for any occasion.

Scampo’s menu reflects the creative taste of its founder and head chef. It features a variety of non-traditional gourmet pizzas such as lamb pizza ($19), and white pizza of truffle cheese, sherried chanterelles and fig preserves ($22).

Her most popular pizza is a lobster pizza, with four ounces of chopped lobster meat (on a ten inch pizza), with shallots, garlic oil, ricotta salata, and a lobster cream sauce topped with chopped chives ($25).   It was simply delicious - the individual flavors lifted the ordinary pizza into the extraordinary.

Starters include rum soaked wild king salmon strewn with ripe persimmon on toasted thin brown bread ($19).   Diners also have the option of selecting from the mozzarella bar that include burrata ( a fresh Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream), and broiled fresh figs with speck stuffing ($20).

In addition to offerings of pasta such as spaghetti with cracklings and hot peppers ($15), Scampo offers a full range of vegetarian, fresh fish, poultry and meat main plates.

The salmon steak and cod croquettes with capers and dry limoncello ($29), and crisp boneless duck breast basted in Muscat wine with parsnips and quince ($33) were particularly noteworthy.

Scampo offers superior ambience courtesy of the exciting visuals, and the experience of eating sublime foods created by one of America’s most revered and creative chefs.

TELEPHONE(617) 536-2100

The Liberty Hotel
215 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

WEBSITE: www.scampoboston.com


Sun - Wed: 11.30AM to 2:30PM, and 5:30PM to 10PM

Thu - Sat: 11.30AM to 2:30PM, and 5:30PM to 11PM

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