The latest addition to the Aquitaine Group brings the much awaited Cinquecento. Located at 500 Harrison Ave in the old Rocca space, nothing of the previous space exists, which is a good thing, I believe. Rocca was a great restaurant but I think the South End needed something newer, fresher and a little different and Cinquecento seems to cover all these bases.
A gorgeous iron staircase leads you up to Cinquecento and right into the casual bar area, which has a long curvy bar with high seating and surrounded by café tables and a place you know you want to hang out. The space has a low light glow, which brings a warm, welcoming and almost comely feel. Exposed brick walls with larger mirrors, small cozy tables for two, booths for four and larger seating areas for more adds a nice mix to the open plan restaurant. Floor to ceiling pillars filled with Campari bottles gives a bit of separation to the some of tables.
To our surprise, we got a table in the restaurant area with no reservation. We had heard it was impossible, so we felt very lucky. Seated in the middle of the restaurant at a tiny two-seater table we were in the midst of being able to view everything. As with the other Aquitainerestaurants; Gaslight, Aquitaineand Metropolis, the noise level is high but I think it is also part of the lure, at least for me.
The cocktail menu offers an array of unique and interesting cocktails, which made it difficult to decide what we wanted. Our waiter, a lovely young man who appeared to be very knowledgeable about the menu helped us with our decisions. I ended up ordering a Ginepro Dolce and my friend Stacey ordered the Zenzero Rosso. Both were deliciously fun. I loved the shaved lime in mine, which added a nice sharp tang.
The dinner menu offers appetizers of mussels, carpaccio and bruschetta burrata to name a few, I wanted so many things. I settled on the Ricotta Fresca and my friend ordered the Carpaccio. My ricotta was just simply good, although far too much for one person. I just could not stop eating this wonderful creamy appetizer slathered onto grilled crusty bread.
Stacey’s Carpaccio was very much to her liking although she did say the salad was a little too overdressed with oil.
The entrées offered a wonderful and very reasonably priced selection of choices from pasta dishes, to fish and meats – something for everyone’s palate. We both wanted pasta so decided on ordering one each and swapping half way through.
I ordered the Gnocchi and oh my goodness it was absolute goodness on a plate. Superbly tasty and lightly salted shredded wild boar, which was plentiful mixed through the soft pillows of perfect gnocchi. I didn’t want to give it up, but I promised. The swap was made.
The Fettuccini is at first light, however the full of flavor mushrooms worked in harmony with the al dente fettuccine and a buttery truffle sauce and made more it filling and rich than expected.
As if we didn’t have enough already, dessert was calling our names. One should have been more than enough but no, we had to order one each. The Bittersweet Chocolate Bundino and the Bay Laurel Panna Cotta. The Bundino is a warm sponge cake filled with molten chocolate with just the right amount cream. Truly good.
The panna cotta is nice and custardy, however, I didn’t like the herby flavor it had and I couldn’t really place what it was. Stacey seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. It was a little different. I also loved the hand-painted plates they came on.
Our evening ended with strong coffee and a little bit of a look around the restaurant, which had filled up to a loud, bustling, fun people watching space that made me smile. It was a good atmosphere to be in, enjoy dinner, thrilling cocktails and people watching.
A new, fun and very tasty addition to our ever growing dining experience that is Boston. I, for one am thrilled.