On The Menu

A Tale of Two Small Plates (Rocca and Savant Project Reviews)


Category : , , , ,

The last couple of weeks we had dinner at two places that specializes in small plate eating. Tapas basically so that you can eat different plates and share with your dining companions. When done right, a diner can usually be in for a good and fulfilling meal. When done wrong...well, let's say you might order 2 or 3 items that you might not like and are stuck with it. Here are two examples, one from each category.


I've been to Rocca a couple of times in the past. Mainly for drinks only in the very large lounge/bar area, but I have dined there previously and I really enjoyed their pasta dishes. I'm not sure why they changed chefs, but recently from Top Chef fame, Tiffani Faison has taken over the helm at Rocca. We met her very briefly at the Bacon and Beer Fest and she seemed very nice and her ultra crispy bacon was a fantastic treat so we had high hopes for Rocca.

The meal started out with some nice crusty bread and olive oil. This was followed by our first item, the Gnocchetti with lobster in an uni broth.

Man, what a start to dinner. The gnocchi and the lobster were perfectly cooked and uni broth was some of the best pasta broth I've had in a long, long time. I used the bread to soap up all the uni goodness. We seriously thought we were in for a meal of a lifetime sort of moment. Oh how we were so wrong.

Our next dish was the lobster butter garlic bread and this was the start of a chain of disapointments. The bread was burnt in places and was very greasy. There was very little faint hints of lobster, but really unless if you knew there was suppose to be lobster on the bread I don't think you could have figured it out.

Next up was the Tre Calor pizza. At this point we both realized we ordered too many bread-like items because we were getting full, in an unsatisfying manner. The pizza itself was just ok. I liked the egg on top, but really couldn't taste any pork at all and there was way too much "greens" on the pizza.

Our last dish was the monkfish and shrimp sausage. It tasted like any other seafood sausage I've ever had...and that's not really a compliment. It wasn't bad tasting by any means, but I guess I was hoping for it to taste like monkfish liver for some reason.

Overall, I think I liked the old Rocca better. The food here isn't bad at all, but you aren't going to get anything that will wow you (the Gnocchetti being the one exception). Service was spotty at times too, with our waitress ignoring us at times while she talked to another table in between dropping off plates to the other people in our section. If she was routinely checking up on each table then I could understand this, but she ignored most the other tables just to chat with this one particular foursome for most the time we were there. I give Rocca a 2 and 1/2 out of 5.

Also, not that it really matters, but Harold's place (review here) was better.
Rocca on Urbanspoon

Savant Project

Abby picked up a groupon for the Savant Project a while ago and we finally decided to go eat there. We were planning on taking the T, but after looking on their website I saw there was plenty of spots for street parking and we decided to drive there. Sure enough we found a spot half a block away. We were early for our reservation by about 20 minutes, but the host didn't care and sat us immediately. It wasn't that crowded in the main dining/bar area, but the outdoor patio was packed.

Once we sat down I noticed a gentlemen at the bar drinking Yuengling, a beer that you never see in the Boston area. I asked the waitress about it and she said it's a bit pricey because they have to go out of state for it, but that doesn't shy me away and I order Pennsylvania's finest. Abby goes for the chocolate bacon martini. I wasn't the biggest fan of that drink, but she seemed to enjoy it. Along with our drinks came chips and salsa. The salsa was pretty good and I wished they gave us more. The pieces of apples was a very nice touch.

We started with the tasting menu to share, which was basically all four seafood tapas on one plate with a pairing of drinks.

On the plate was Tuna Sliders, Tuna Sashimi, smoked salmon and a shrimp ceviche. The tuna sashimi was a very nice delicate piece of tuna laying on a salad bed. The salad had just a little too much dressing on it, but the wasabi peas that garnished it was a nice complement. The smoked salmon had creme fraiche and capers and fried pita. I quite enjoyed this. The tuna sliders and the shrimp ceviche were both tasty as well and we had no problems eating everything on the plate. At $27, with the drinks, this would be a nice little meal for a single person.

Next came the spare pork ribs. These ribs were cooked perfectly and fell right off the bone. The Asian styled BBQ sauce was good, but not great. I think I would have preferred a regular smokey BBQ sauce, but that's just me.

Finally, we finished with the beer battered fried tofu tacos. These came out and it looked like fried twinkees in a tortilla. I was expecting the tofu to be the fried triangles that you see at Thai restaurants, but instead they just cut a log of tofu, battered and deep fried it. AWESOME! The tacos were messy and hard to eat with my hands, but that didn't stop me from devouring it. The coleslaw and avacado added the Mexican flair to the tacos.

Even without the groupon the entire dinner was a reasonable price. The service was slow at times, but was also very friendly and nice. There were other items on the menu that I would love to try, especially the churros and chocolate for dessert. I will definitely be back. I give the Savant Project a 4 out of 5.

Savant Project on Urbanspoon