Well, it has been a hot minute, truly about a month since I last posted here on the The Kitchen Scout. Life has been hectic and it seems as though we’ve been living and eating on the fly. And then just this week when I thought I would not only have a restaurant to tell you about, but also a lovely talk by a famous chef/author I was planning to attend, something got in the way.
Do you ever just mess up? I’ve done this particular “mess up” twice now and it is painful on multiple levels.
See, this past week I had planned to attend the Live in Conversation with Nigella Lawson who many of you probably know from her cookbooks and television shows. I adore her. She is a goddess in the kitchen both because she is beautiful, but also because she has a way with language that makes you want to do whatever she says, eat whatever she prepares and join her at the table. She also used to unapologetically end her cooking shows that she filmed in her home by sneaking down to the fridge in her robe at what appeared to be the midnight hour, for an extra helping of whatever she had made on that episode. I love her honesty and she is a great interview, having seen a few clips online over the years.
I had purchased the tickets right before we left for our trip in September, noted the date in my calendar, invited a friend to come along and made a dinner reservation for ahead. And as the hour of the event approached, a little bird was in my ear telling me to check the tickets, check.the.tickets….
They were for the night before. I got the date wrong. I missed her. Boo hoo, boo hoo. I was distraught. But thankfully, my friend burst into laughter when I told her and since I was already in Boston and we had a reservation at a place neither of us had been, we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and have a good time together nonetheless.
Now, I can only hope that I will find a recording of one of Nigella’s “in conversations” somewhere online down the road so I can see what I missed in person.
The restaurant we visited is named Faccia a Faccia, formerly Faccia a Brutta located on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The restaurant, owned by famed chefs/restaurateurs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bisonnette (Little Donkey, Toro and my favorite – Coppa) changed its name after opening to avoid conflict with a beverage company with a similar name. Now, instead of “Ugly Face”, the name translates to “Face to Face” which, I would argue is a kinder, gentler and perhaps more appropriate name for a restaurant!
Faccia a Faccia prepares coastal Italian food so guests should expect to be treated to Executive chef, Brian Rae’s interpretation of dishes from Sicily, Sardignia and beyond.
Securing a reservation when it opened earlier in the year was a real challenge but it was pretty easy at least to get an early table this time I tried. Inside it’s fairly spacious for a Back Bay establishment and during warmer months there is also a sizable patio with plenty of tables…
The interior is anchored by a beautiful bar with plenty of seating, especially if you are an early arrival…
The menu is substantial and one can make a meal from appetizers (as we did) or a combination of the Snacks, Small Plates, Crudo, Pastas, Meats & Fishes and For the Table offerings. While some of the dishes embrace the heavier side of this coastal cuisine with deep fried offerings, there are as many lighter dishes on the menu and many options for vegetarians. In addition, they are able to substitute a house made, gluten free pasta in any of the pasta dishes. They also sell this GF pasta by the bag to go if you are interested!
While I cannot say what my friend, Ann and I chose represents the menu well, we did really enjoy everything we ordered and cannot wait to go back! Ann lives close by so she will probably beat me there but when I go back with my husband I will update the post. In the meanwhile, there are other more detailed reviews online if you just google around.
Ann and I decided that we would order from the Snack and Small Plates menu and see how we felt after that. Our excellent server suggested that it was usually two smaller plates per person and one larger plate that worked well for most.
Our first selection was Olives stuffed with Pork Sausage and Anchovy that were fried and served with a red pepper aioli. They were almost like a Scotch egg, where the pork mixture was formed around the pitted green olive and then they were breaded (GF) and fried. We could have eaten a million of these they were that good…
Although we didn’t come close to finishing these and perhaps wouldn’t order them again because there were so many other interesting menu items, Potato chips with a seaweed salt, served with a delicious green goddess sauce and some caviar didn’t disappoint…
We had to have a vegetable, and if there are artichokes on the menu the decision is easy. One of the most popular dishes according to our server, Modern Fried Artichokes Roman Style arrived hot, crispy and topped with a squeeze of lemon were wonderful…
The last dish we ordered was the Grilled Octopus that was served with black rice, some guanciale, and baby turnips topped with a charred leek vinaigrette. Ann loves octopus and to be honest, I had only tasted it for the first time on our trip to Sicily, and this preparation was so good. The octopus was incredibly tender and the textures and colors only enhanced the flavors of this dish…
The wine list is extensive with offerings largely from Italy but also representation from France, Germany and the United States. Many are available by the glass and there is also a modest cocktail menu.
After we ate what we ordered, we did not have room to try anything else so we agreed to call it dinner even if it was a bit lopsided. I would do that again, just maybe swap out the chips with a crudo for another protein and to add a bright and fresh flavor to the heavier foods.
Now, the really fun part of Faccia a Faccia is that they have a Bar in the basement under a different name, Bar Pallino which they say is inspired by the new generation of Paris wine bars. It feels almost like a speak easy, though because of its location in the basement. It would be a great place to host a small event or meet up with friends for a quick drink and a snack, especially if you live in the neighborhood…
So if you find yourself looking for a fun spot to dine in Boston sometime soon, consider Faccia a Faccia! And if you are going to an event, check and double check the tickets just in case 🙂
Until next time…
One Year Ago: Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup
Two Years Ago: Skinney Cheesesteak Skillet
Three Years Ago: Chipotle Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Four Years Ago: Trip to Louisville, Kentucky
Five Years Ago: In Conversation with Joanne Chang
Six Years Ago: Aunt Elizabeth’s Fresh Apple Cake
Seven Years Ago: Homemade Vanilla Extract
Eight Years Ago: Armenian Market Tour and Cheese & Phyllo Cups
This has been on my must try list. So glad you went and enjoyed it. Now I need to get there.