258 Bridge Street
I have always been a fan of Majolica... but recent disquieting reports were making the rounds that the restaurant was about to close. Given these tough economic times, and the fact that Majolica is a BYOB establishment and operates under an exceedingly tight profit margin, I was afraid that the end might be near. Fortunately, rumors of Majolica's demise were somewhat premature and greatly exaggerated.
In point of fact, the restaurant did close for a short period of time. However, on March 18, it reopened with a new menu and new attitude. The new Majolica will still showcase fresh local ingredients, seasonal modifications, and chef/proprietor Andrew Deery's signature style; but significant changes have been incorporated to make this charming bistro more accessible to a greater variety of diners.
The printed menu remains a compact affair, sporting six appetizer selections ($3.00 - $12.00), six entrées ($16.00 - $21.00), five desserts ($5.00 - $8.00), and four side dishes ($5.00) supplemented by one or two daily specials. Given the incredible quality of the cuisine, and the fact that diners may tote along their own libations, prices are incredibly reasonable. As an added incentive, there is even a $25.00 three-course prix-fixe, which changes daily.
Chef Deery describes his bill of fare as "a menu for the masses." With all due respect, however, this is only partially true. The steak frites, for example, should certainly appeal to a wide range of gastronomic predilections. The beef is succulent, firmly textured yet remarkably tender, and rife with flavor. The thick slices are topped with a special house butter and set on a pillow of crisp shoestring fries. And the various hand-cut pasta presentations should also be quite popular. Recently sampled was a benchmark sweet potato agnolotti teamed with earthy black trumpet mushrooms and a sumptuous sage sauce.
But a number of other dishes - particularly those of a piscatorial nature - may have greater appeal to the more adventurous of palate& the Atlantic skate wing, for instance, or the incomparably delicious Scottish salmon set on a seabed of tender asparagus spears and consummated with hollandaise.
Starters are even more indicative of the Mr. Deery's culinary prowess. For more straightforward diners, there is the presentation of marvelous blue mussels swimming in a savory broth imbued with Pernod butter, an assortment of salamis and sausages embellished with appropriate pickles and mustards, and the local spinach salad sporting a fried egg tiara and bacon vinaigrette.
For a bit more razzle-dazzle, I'd suggest either the exemplary soup of the day - most recently, an irresistible cauliflower laced with Gruyère - or the picture perfect warm beet salad adorned with crumbled goat cheese and candied hazelnuts, an absolutely winning combination of colors, tastes, and textures.
Desserts continue along a more innovative path, presenting such possibilities as scrumptious pecan shortbread cookies companioned by an outrageously addictive Meyer lemon curd, malted barley ice cream with sesame tuile and caramelized banana, mascarpone sorbet with candied kumquats and almond praline, and spiced doughnuts with hot chocolate.
Even after Majolica's recent rejuvenation, I consider it highly unlikely that proprietor Andrew Deery will have the grab 'n' growl, meat 'n' potatoes crowd beating down his door. But the good chef has certainly made a concerted effort to broaden his appeal to the area's discerning diners... And, in my opinion, he has succeeded admirably.
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
Want to receive e-mail notification when a new review or article is posted? E-mail Artful Diner!