A “Comfortably Lived-In” Restaurant
MC Slim JB visits Balani in Waltham for his latest review in the Improper Bostonian. A restaurant from Dave Becker of Sweet Basil and Juniper, Balani shows its elegance in “gussied-up gastropub fare” and seafood. “There’s a lot of comfort-food starch and fat here, generally elevated by excellent smoking and deep-frying chops,” Slim writes. He recommends the monkfish kofta and the stack of chickpea fries done with “exquisite technique.” The crispy adobo fried chicken and katsu don both feature excellent fry jobs, while the two fish dishes (whole black sea bass and arctic char a la plancha) “wow with vivid flavors and sophisticated prep.” For dessert, a date cake “recalls sticky toffee pudding in cake form,” and Slim writes that he has been “quite won over by Balani’s eclectic, earthy, occasionally refined food.”
For the Boston Globe, Kara Baskin offers an early look at Luce, the Italian replacement for Shepard in Cambridge. Baskin recommends starting with “airy” fried calamari or a fava bean puree, which she dubs “a zingy paste best swiped with Hi-Rise’s rye bread.” With three pizza options and pasta available in whole or half portions, diners will find things both familiar and experimental. “Try nubby bits of ricotta gnocchi commingled with braised lamb, tomato-onion sugo, and anchovy crumbs,” Baskin writes, or the “comforting” tagliatelle. In the event of decision fatigue, Luce offers a $55 multi-course family meal, chef’s choice.