SRV imported a whole new world of snacks to Boston when it first opened: Cichetti, or small bites, particular to a style of wine bar in Venice, Italy, known as a bacaro. Morsels like pork and veal polpette dipped in distinctive tomato sauce and baccalà mantecato crostini are meant to match with inventive takes on traditional drinks and set the stage for larger seasonal plates.
The convivial vibes and shareable menu structure are steadfast at the South End spot, but individual dishes come and go, says general manager Toni Maiorino, who also oversees human resources and wine for Coda Restaurant Group, including SRV sibling spots the Salty Pig and Gufo. “We change our menu almost entirely every season,” she says, speaking for chef de cuisine Zack Hanrahan and the kitchen team. “I say almost entirely because there are a few tried and true dishes that will always remain as they were when we opened almost eight years ago.”
Maiorino walks us through some classics and can’t-miss dishes, drinks and dolci at SRV this winter.
This snack of whipped salt cod crostini goes as far back as the idea itself of SRV. Chef-owner Michael Lombardi and his former business partner were inspired by the place where they first met. “This dish is found in pretty much every, if not all, bacari in Venice,” Maiorino explains. SRV’s attractive homage to that bar snack uses jet black squid ink toast rubbed in garlic, and is topped with fresh herbs, lemon and a touch of olive oil. “It’s so simple, yet packs a ton of flavor,” she says. “I could make a meal out of them alone.”
Piatti and Grani
Smoked Sea Trout
Instead of “entrees,” SRV offers piatti, or “plates” of vegetables and proteins, plus pastas and risottos (grani).
Currently, Maiorino is quite partial to an “unexpected” small plate. The smoked sea trout at SRV “has some lovely nods to Japanese cuisine,” she says. Ruby-tinged Scottish sea trout is brined then cold-smoked in-house. Before cooking, it’s brushed with white miso and layered with a thin slice of milk bread that’s then seared crisp. The dish itself is composed with navy beans, escarole, and briny trout roe and “just hums,” Maiorino says. “I recommend it every chance I get.”
“We love a filled pasta, or at least I do,” Maiorino says. This one brings the flavor despite its simple makeup. The house-made pasta is filled with creamy ricotta cheese, and tossed in oregano-scented confit cherry tomato sauce. Each plate is garnished with house-dried tomatoes, sea beans, Parmesan and mint. “These confit tomatoes are a way to preserve summer just a bit longer, before we are covered in snow for the next five months,” Maiorino says.
Maiorino always saves room for dessert, but even this sweet tooth “didn’t know love” until trying this apple-y delight, she says. Created by SRV pastry chef Vivienne Pinedo, “it’s all the things you want in dessert, the ultimate salty-sweet combo,” Maiorino says. Served with a scoop of homemade apple-miso gelato, the tart is filled with roasted apples, apple butter, and an almond cream and covered in crunchy brown sugar-maple streusel. “It’s sweet, crunchy, creamy, umami.”
In addition to well-crafted classic Italian cocktails and creations like the tiki-esque Regulators (combining white rum, chamomile, Cynar, and orgeat), principal bartender Marsha Lindsey offers a selection of clarified milk punches this season. “This was a labor of love for her and our bar team,” Maiorino says. “It’s a fun option to get people interested in trying a style of cocktail they maybe haven’t tried.” The three flavors—limoncello, hibiscus, and dairy-free piña colada—”are all so different and stunning in presentation.”
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