A food aficionado: Ribelle
By Anna Ing
Chef Tim Maslow returned from David Chang’s Momofuku to open Ribelle, an Italian restaurant in Washington Square. Maslow handled the dinner menu of Strip T’s in Watertown and made it a dining destination. Now this solo effort in the former Tamarind Bay space launched with much anticipation.
On a warm summer night, the front windows are open to the simple space with a big communal dining table in the middle. One wall is decorated with grass and tables lined against it. A subtle “Ribelle” neon sign in red informs diners they are in the right place. Reservations are for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. only. Ribelle currently serves dinner only and is closed Tuesdays.
The menu is small and simple, with a drinks menu. The by-the-glass selections are a mystery but have intriguing descriptions. We got the option #1 sparkling wine ($15 a glass), which was the André & Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura from France. I’m usually not a fan of extra brut, but it was fantastic complement to our meal after a long workday.
Our server Paul was knowledgeable and friendly. The simple menu focuses on fresh and local ingredients of the season. Polenta ($13), an Italian cornmeal, is usually boring but not at Ribelle. It came stuffed in a corn husk with amazingly sweet corn and colorful diced peppers. Each mouthful was an explosion of flavors topped with fresh shaved parmesan.
Next came the lobster salad ($20) that had claw and tail meat with fregola sarda (a nutty Sardinian pasta that looks like Israeli couscous) in a delightful light dressing and fresh sweet corn. The pickled fennel on the dish was a great contrast to the corn’s sweetness.
The roasted cauliflower ($12) was surprisingly served cold with melted Fontina cheese. Its intense walnut flavor with high-quality olive oil hit the right notes all together.
Next came the papperdelle ($18), which was recommended as a heartier dish. House-made pasta in Bolognese sauce with bits of crunchy pork rind along with kale rounded off this dish. This would also be great on a cold night.
The angolotti ($17), or ravioli from the Piedmont region of Italy with veal, was interesting with a bit of salsify (an oyster plant) and sweet tomato jam. Depending on the biteful, the tomato jam was delicious on its own. However, having too much of it did not go well with the veal angolotti’s heartiness. It was better in smaller doses together.
For dessert option, we got the olive ice cream ($7) and coffee cake on the house, as our food was delayed. Our server had written the wrong number, so our food was served to the wrong table.
Despite this hiccup, we loved the intense flavor of coffee in the cake, complemented by pomegranate seeds. The olive oil ice cream was an unexpected but exciting flavor and texture combo that changed our minds about ice cream forever. The chocolate outside was well-matched with the olive oil ice cream.
All the dishes were great. Be prepared that Ribelle uses fresh and high quality ingredients, but the serving portion is tapas size on big plates. Though a bit on the pricier side, the high caliber of food was excellent.
1665 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02445
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