November 8th, 2015

Viale, Cambridge

“Central Square doesn’t know what it wants to be,” Steve commented as we walked back to the car. He’s right – Central Square is changing. There is still a Payless shoe store and a furniture rental store, but the Middle East has shut its doors and the H Mart is bright, shiny and filled with hipsters.

We dined at Viale, located on Mass Ave, where Rendezvous (and a Burger King before that) used to be. I liked Rendezvous and enjoyed their happy hour tapas, so I was sad to see it go. Viale “serves ingredient-driven, Mediterranean-inspired food in a warm and casual environment,” The restaurant was almost full at 7pm on Saturday Night with a happy group of people celebrating a 50th birthday.

Steve and I started with the Neapolitan pizza ($13). The wood grill added a nice char, but the crust was dense and chewy. The marinara was too tart and the scallions were out of place.

Steve got the baked mushroom gnocchi (maitake, romanesco, cauliflower cream, grana breadcrumbs, $24) and was unenthused about it. I thought the dish was okay, but heavy-handed.

My orecchiette with braised octopus, grilled leeks and castlevetrano olives ($24) was more successful. The octopus was tender and the olives were fruity and briny. My friend Mj doesn’t like olives, expect for castlevetranos; I think she would have enjoyed this dish.

Our server was proficient and the bread service offered small, but flavorful ciabatta rolls. The prices are high for what it is.

I miss Rendezvous.