Advocate Restaurant Review
By Jim Tuberosa
“It’s taken us awhile but we’ve finally got things the way we want them,” said Joe Ravesi, head chef and part owner of Ravesi’s Ristorante (with his sister, Angela). “When we bought this place (formerly Maggio’s), we knew there were many changes to be made and we made them, and then some,” he said. “Now after all the hard work and expensive alterations we’re eager to show our patrons, new and old, what we can do.”
“Starting with our totally new menu and style of Italian cooking handed down to us from our father, Angelo, to a variety of innovative specials and promotions for the pleasures of our customers, including our immaculate, spacious dining room, we hope to show you that our aim is to make the name “Ravesi” synonymous with good food and good times. We hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised and want to make Ravesi’s the first place you think of when you want an extra special time out,” Joe expounded. “Whether its girls’ night out – guys’ night out or a family dinner, my sister and I are dedicated to making our place the best it can be for everyone. The food is top quality, the service is second to none and it’s all reasonably-priced (including a children’s menu). Our new hardwood floors, special lighting, fine linen napkins and table cloths and new walls filled with pictures of our family’s hometown in Sicily give a nice, pleasant, home-style atmosphere. The bar area is of fine hardwood and leather, is full-service and features several large screen TV’s for everyone’s pleasure. Our bartenders, Joe and Leeanne, are pleasant, attentive to your every need and can mix up any cocktail you may ask for and make it just the way you like it. And they’ll serve plenty of late night snacks at the bar on weekends like pizza, daily appetizer specials and much more.”
Before I talk about my friends and I dined upon I should explain that their father was the owner of “Angelo & Sons,” in East Boston. In the many years he was there, Angelo’s built quite a reputation as the best seafood anywhere. This is where Joe Ravesi received his education in the fine art of cooking so it makes sense that his menu would be filled with some of the most delicious and innovative seafood dishes you’ve ever had as well as those traditional Italian specialties we all grew up with straight from Nana’s kitchen.
It didn’t take me long to realize THIS story was going to require two visits to fully describe the many mouth-watering offerings Joe Ravesi had on his menu. My dinner buddies agreed eagerly – they were Jimmy Celona, the Revere singer who has dined in all the best restaurants in Las Vegas for years; and former Chelsea clerk of courts, Harry Landry, a man-about-town who is one of the fussiest, but fairest of all gourmets I know.
Our waiter, a young man named, Cody, instantly became our best friend as he anticipated our every pleasure and had us well on our way as quickly as can be – warm, homemade bread, extra virgin olive oil for dipping, eggplant rolitini you’ll rave about, calamari salad that must be a secret recipe of Angelo’s it was so plump and juicy, and then a true gourmand’s delight: grilled octopus, right off the barbecue drizzled with garlic-olive oil and lemon juice. This will quickly become one of your new favorite snacks; it’s that good, and different.
Finally, the best clams casino I’ve ever tasted – done just right so that they have that “fresh-from-the-sea” flavor (without being tough), covered with Angelo’s secret recipe breadcrumb toppings that made him famous.
I complimented Joe on his delicious appetizers and said, “Too bad you don’t have tripe.”
“But Jimmy, we DO have it today, I just didn’t get a chance to put it on the menu.” He brought us a bowl of his own homemade tripe in a scrumptious Bolognese sauce that just made my day. Tripe is one of my favorite all-time dishes and I have to say that I have never tasted better. It brought back a lot of memories of family holiday meals and Nana’s tripe was always one of the most popular dishes.
Our main courses were – Fusilli al Castello, a dish “fit for the gods” with lobster, crab, and plump shrimp sautéed in Angelo’s famous castello sauce served over HOMEMADE FUSILLI. My taste buds start dancing just thinking about this incredible creation – Chicken Frangelico, another of Joe’s never-ending masterpieces – chicken medallions, sautéed just right with mushrooms and apples in a creamy hazelnut liqueur sauce.
We all agreed this should be Ravesi’s signature dish, it was that good – Salmon Toscana: wild salmon broiled just right with Italian herbs and laced with lemon/caper cream sauce. “My father’s secret is not to overcook it so it stays juicy,” says Joe. (Thank you, Angelo!)
Our desserts were a perfect complement to this feast – Ravesi’s cannoli – you could tell it was homemade and just now filled with their sweet ricotta in a chocolate-covered shell. Tiramisu that melted in your mouth and, my chocolate cravings were more than satisfied with their Bocca Nera, a chocolate & white sponge cake with chocolate & Chantilly cream, amarena cherries and drizzled with a hazelnut/caramel sauce. I’ll get this every time it’s that good.
We came back three days later and had even more surprises in store for us – we started out with a combination pizza; half Margherita and half shrimp scampi, instead of their delicious homemade bread, (we couldn’t have both) – loaded with large succulent shrimp and fresh mozzarella mixed with the “Ravesi magic” ingredients, this will make Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” list very soon.
Now for the “granddaddy of all appetizers,” ‘Antipasto Raffaele,’ a dish for three that could easily serve as a main course – roasted red peppers, large cubes of imported provolone cheese, rabe, calamari salad, several clams casino, and get this: large pieces of breaded lobster tail that you’d die for. I can’t say too many good things about this Ravesi creation. You’ll see what I mean when you try it.
Our main courses were Vitella Tosca – tender veal medallions dipped in egg, cheese & parsley, pan-fried in imported olive oil then drizzled with Ravesi’s special lemon/wine sauce. It was just as good as it sounds and tasted the way real veal should. Their baked haddock was a large captain’s-cut filet topped with Ravesi’s blended breadcrumbs mixture and baked giving it that “fresh-from-the-sea” taste that makes a simple meal a feast.
Our pasta course was Gnocchi Palomino, homemade (naturally) tossed in (grandfather) Giuseppe’s patented vodka sauce. This Sicilian specialty will stay in your memory for a long time, it’s that outstanding.
Finally, I have to rave about Ravesi’s Delmonico steak that was the “Pi’ece-de-resistance.”
Now I LOVE a good steak but stopped ordering it out because I want it cooked medium rare – period. I had been disappointed enough times that I finally gave up several years ago. But Harry Landry, God Bless him, asked for it and specified “medium rare.” We watched as he cut into it and saw that perfect “pink color” as the juices poured out and my mouth started to water in anticipation of that first delicious bite that you just want to savor forever.
THIS is indeed an award-winning signature dish – we all thanked Harry for ordering it and you will too.
NOTE: When we thanked Joe he told me the real credit went to his second chef, David Hoey, who is an expert barbecue/grill man. Also, he only buys the best quality meats, steaks from J. Cater, a prime “meatery” from Dorchester and his Italian sausages from the renowned Joe Bianco & Sons. Also, we fully enjoyed the rich California wines with our meals – Pinot Noir from “Lucky Star” and a subtle-tasting Merlot from “14 Hands Winery” in Washington state.
I should also note that the desserts are all homemade by Angela Ravesi with an assist from her mother who gave up the recipe for her “Ricotta sponge cake,” I had it and it defied description – moist, tasty and a texture that added to the delicious flavor. Naturally, I had my chocolate Bosca Nera, and we shared their great canolli and Tiramisu. A perfect ending to an incredible dining experience that lasted two days – that’s known as an Italian feast.
I was especially impressed with the overall cleanliness (including the pristine restrooms), the lighting, (not too dark or bright), the nicely-decorated walls and overall color scheme that was so easy on the eyes making you feel right at home, including the subtle, soft music and great service.
Ravesi’s Ristorante is conveniently located at 306 Revere St., Revere and offers ample, FREE parking. All dishes are available for takeout. Their phone number is (781) 289-6950.
Be sure to tell them you read about Ravesi’s in the Revere Advocate – see you there!