Mangia Bene at Strega Waterfront, Boston, MA

Having lived just outside of Milan for 3 years, I am always a little wary about dining at an Italian restaurant in America. No matter how “classic” the venue claims to be, it always seems so different from the traditional Italian fare that I remember. I’m happy to report that Strega Waterfront comes very close to getting it right. The major differences are that the portions are much larger than they are in Italy and that the restaurant will let you mix cheese with seafood. You’re probably wondering what could possibly be wrong with that, but I have literally seen an American get thrown out of a restaurant in Italy for insisting that the server put grated parmesan cheese on his seafood pasta. At a minimum, this culinary sin is worthy of a confession to your priest on Sunday morning followed by 12 Hail Mary’s.

Strega is the Italian word for witch and the name is fitting because the food here tastes magical. There are 6 versions of Strega restaurants spread throughout Boston, each one a little different than the next. Strega Waterfront is located at ONE Marina Park Drive, Boston, MA. The interior is distinctly mobster-glam. That’s right, I said mobster-glam. There’s an oversized sparkling chandelier hanging above the bar and several other seductive touches amidst the luscious dark wooden walls, a wine wall in one section of the dining area, and floor to ceiling windows on the wall that opens to the patio dining area on nice summer days. The patio has a view of the six-acre marina and is a lovely dining experience. However, Fan Pier Park is located directly across the street and cigarette smoke sometimes drifts across the street from the park.

Before we get started, you should know that this is my unsolicited opinion and I was in no way compensated for writing this review.

Ranking for Strega Waterfront, Boston, MA

Quality ingredients 8
Cleanliness 10
Friendliness of staff 8
Speed of service 10
Bathrooms 8
Gluten free: Selection + safety 7
Worth every penny? 8
Total score 59 out of 70
Kid friendly? No
Changing table in women’s room? Unknown
Changing table in men’s room? Unknown

What’s Yummy at Strega Waterfront

The goat cheese stuffed figs wrapped in grilled prosciutto were the daily special for the appetizer. My mouth is watering just writing about them. I’ve been a prosciutto lover for over 2 decades and somehow have never experienced the delight that is grilled prosciutto. If I were granted a 5-course meal before I died, this would be my appetizer. And, no, I wouldn’t share it with you.

Goat cheese stuffed figs wrapped in grilled prosciutto

My boss ordered the spaghetti con polpette. On the menu it is described as ‘traditional spaghetti and meatball’. You read it and can’t help but assume that it’s a typo and that the word meatball should be plural, not singular. But, my friend, you are wrong. This is truly spaghetti and meatball. And what a meatball it is!

For the record, my boss said the spaghetti con polpette was delicious and devoured it.

I ordered the seared steak salad, medium rare. The flavor was spot-on, but the meat was overcooked, as you can see in the photo. Even though this gluten free dish was clearly cooked to medium, the meat wasn’t dry, so I didn’t send it back.

The seared steak salad with the first two slices already eaten and clearly not cooked medium-rare

My vegetarian colleague ordered the melanzane panini (traditional eggplant parm sandwich). It was oozing with cheese and she claimed it was delicious, but I’m gluten free and don’t like eggplant so I cannot confirm or deny her claim. All I can say is that this is a distinctly Americanized version of an Italian entrée.

The melanzane panini

Although not pictured here, the steak pizzaiola is heavenly.  I strongly recommend it if you’re in the mood for high-end comfort food.

How’s the service at Strega Waterfront?

We have had several lunch meetings at Strega Waterfront and the service has always been impeccable. It feels like we’ve never waited too long for our server, but the employees aren’t hovering around making you feel rushed, either.

What if you’re gluten free?

There is no designated gluten free menu or a separate prep area at Strega Waterfront. However, I have always felt very safe eating here and have never gotten sick from it. The gluten free items are not marked on the menu, but the servers are well-versed in celiac and will patiently review all of the items that can be prepared gluten free with you. If they are ever uncertain about an item then they go and ask the chef, which I always appreciate. Despite the lack of a dedicated prep area, the staff assures me that they take every possible precaution to avoid cross-contamination, and I believe them. I always feel like my dietary needs are taken seriously there and the staff has never sneered, snickered, or made me feel like an inconvenience if I had questions about something being gluten free.

How about the bathrooms?

The bathrooms are down the corridor between the bar and the restaurant. While not as glamorous as the rest of the venue, the bathrooms are function and incredibly clean, and that’s all that matters.


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This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Ooze

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