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Rialto, Cambridge

Rialto has been around since 1994, but in 2007, Jody Adams bought out her partners and revamped the menu to focus more on regional Italian fare. I’ve been to Rialto before, but not since the change, so I was excited to go for Steve’s mother’s birthday dinner. Originally we were scheduled to go on Friday, but due to a little blizzard, we switched to Thursday night.

I attempted to order the spiced brined pork chop, but was told that it was a pork porterhouse cut. It was served on a bed of spinach and with cotechino (which is a fresh Italian sausage) and lentils. I really enjoyed my dish. The pork was tender and flavorful and the whole dish was hearty and rustic. I got to sample a bite of the arctic char and the pan roasted trout, and both were quite good. The Tuscan –style sirloin was deemed “fatty,” We got a side of Brussels sprouts, perfect tiny orbs of goodness, tossed with bacon and parsley and a side of crispy fingerling potatoes.

I was underwhelmed by my dessert. The Piedmont sweets were a small collection of treats, including a shot of sweetened espresso. The walnut-apple bread was better and came with a compote of small lady apples. I didn’t try the chocolate-chestnut cream puff, but Steve and Kathryn seemed to enjoy it.

I have to mention the bread basket, an assortment of breadsticks, focaccia and rolls. The focaccia was outstanding and I consumed more than my fair share. The server was attentive, but the kitchen was really slow with our entrees (thank goodness for the bread!) We hesitated about ordering dessert, as we didn’t want another long wait, but the dessert service was timelier. Rialto is expensive; the entrees range from $33 to $43 and desserts are all $12.

On an unrelated note, Keifer Southerland is the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year and the ceremony is normally at Harvard’s Farkas Hall but because of blizzard, the festivities were all moved to the Charles Hotel. If only we had kept our Friday reservation…damn you, Nemo!

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