I think any young college student would agree with me that one of the best things about coming home during school vacations is the boundless food, courtesy of mom and dad. I have the best mom in the world, who makes sure to provide me with all of my favorites every time I come home: Brigham’s chocolate ice cream, dill pickles, Cape Cod potato chips, IZZE sparkling juices, and Drake’s ring dings (a serious guilty pleasure). I’m also usually lucky enough to go out to eat with the family a few times when I come home, and I savor every minute of those experiences. This past trip home, we went to Scampo, a favorite of my parents’ that I had wanted to try for ages.
Scampo is located in the Liberty Hotel in Boston, which, as my dad loves to remind me, used to be a jail. Award-winning chef Lydia Shire provides guests with Italian cuisine, with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean twists. There is an in house tandoori oven, which cooks homemade breads, a pizza oven, and a mozzarella bar. The brick interior of the restaurant gives it a unique feel, and I felt classy and trendy the moment I walked in. Scampo is quite contemporary, and absolutely beautiful, with copper lamps and a gorgeous bar. There is a large open kitchen, which I love. I believe that putting the kitchen on display is the mark of a good restaurant, because it invites guests to view art in action, and makes sanitation a necessity.
Since we arrived early, we sat at the bar and ordered drinks. I recommend the bar whole-heartedly. The bartenders were friendly and passionate about what they do. My dad had “the best old fashioned [he] ever had,” and I had the Del Papa cocktail, a blood orange margarita that had the perfect blend of sour and sweet, and packed a serious punch of tequila flavor. We were led to our seats by the hospitable hostess, and immediately greeted by our waiter, who was funny and very helpful. He was honest with his recommendations and was extremely professional.
After perusing the menu, we settled on sharing the lobster pizza and the fried calamari with pepperoncini for appetizers. While the calamari was nothing I have not tasted before, it was fresh and crispy, and balanced with the spicy pepperoncini. The lobster pizza was impeccable. The crust was toasty and crunchy and the lobster was succulent and paired perfectly with the salty cheese. For my main course, I ordered the robiola and ricotta raviolini with tender shortrib, served with a pesto. Honestly, I was somewhat disappointed. The dish was actually quite small, definitely not big enough for a main course, and the raviolini, which I was very excited to taste because of my love for robiola cheese, were underwhelming due to their lack of cheesy flavor. The shortrib was seasoned well, but was not exactly falling off the bone like a short rib should. Also, the presentation was not super clean. The pesto was served in a ramekin on the side, almost as an afterthought. I did not think it was as composed as it should be. Yet, I finished the whole plate. Everyone at the table seemed pleased with their entrees, yet not blown away by them. They enjoyed different components of them more than others.
Dessert was quite tasty. I ordered the caramel semifreddo. It was creamy and sweet, and the banana caramel that it was served with was my favorite part of the dish. Overall, although Scampo did not completely deliver on food, I still recommend it. My parents have had great meals there in the past, and both the service and décor of the restaurant enticed me enough to make me want to come back. I take service very seriously, and I was nothing but impressed with the way Scampo treated us. I would definitely return in the future to be treated that way again. If Scampo can focus on their flavors and food presentation as much as they focus on their service and atmosphere, it really cannot fail. I look forward giving them another try.
Photo Credit: Eric Levin Photography