Ball Square’s Seafood Hideaway
My wife and I live in Somerville and when we’re exhausted from a long work week, we don’t want to fight through the North End to get some overpriced Italian comfort food. So it was with much anticipation that we watched signs go up late last summer announcing that Pescatore, a seafood restaurant, was coming to the neighborhood.
The location didn’t look promising: It’s on a weird intersection where Broadway, Boston Avenue, and quietly residential Rogers Avenue meet. And from Broadway, it looks more like a takeout place. But go around the side to the dining room entrance, and you’ll find a hidden treasure.
The place is tiny: seven seats and roughly 20 chairs. Lighting is romantic, and decor is tasteful if sparse. Service is friendly and eager. All well and good, but it was the food that made us take notice.
We didn’t experiment with the menu—again, we wanted comfort food, which meant a caprese salad and some pasta. The caprese was a delight, with quite good winter tomatoes, fresh basil, and best of all, a creamy mozzarella di bufala that made us dissolve into our chairs as it dissolved on our palates.
For dinner, I had the frutti di mare, an old favorite from growing up among seafood-crazed Italians in New Haven, Connecticut. Mediocre frutti di mare usually has at least one kind of seafood that’s been cooked too much (usually the mussels, which become like desiccated rubber). But in this case, the clams, shrimps, calamari, and — yes — the plump, moist mussels were all cooked perfectly. I chose the fra diavolo sauce, which had a welcome spicy bite.
My wife had the “fusilli Amalfi,” which featured housemade pasta with shrimp, scallops, and lobster meat. In fact, it featured the whole meat from the claws, and my Maine-bred wife pronounced the lobster worthy of her native taste. The garlic and white wine sauce was subtle, and as for the fusilli itself, there’s just nothing like homemade.
The menu has other familiar standbys (think bolognese, piccata, primavera). And that’s consistent with the spirit of the place: unpretentious, accessible. It’s about doing something simple, but doing it very well. With all entrees priced less than $16, we’ll certainly be coming back again, whether for takeout or to dine in.
Two things to note, however: Management is still working on getting a liquor license, and most importantly, you need directions. You’ll be glad you found this seafood hideaway, even if you have to drive there.
Pescatore, 158 Boston Avenue, Ball Square, Somerville, 617-623-0003.