Since the start of the summer I've been wanting to go to Belly Wine Bar in Kendall Square. I read about their opening in the Improper Bostonian and have had it on my "must-try" list for months.
Belly is located directly adjacent to the Blue Room in Kendall. In fact, its sign (if you can even call it that) is barely visible, making it difficult to distinguish its entrance from the Blue Room's entrance.
Once you take the few steps down from the square into the outdoor patio, there isn't a clear host stand. In fact, we stood around for a few minutes and finally had to flag down a waitress to ask if there was a host or if we should just seat ourselves.
She encouraged us to take any available table, so we did.
Belly's outdoor tables are bright red and have communal wooden baskets with silverware and cloth napkins.
Belly's menus are hilarious. The list of full bottles is titled, "Wine yo."
Even better was the list of wines by the glass, appropriately named "Summer Lovin'." That menu has a few sections: Pink Ladies, Grease Lightnin', We Go Together and Beauty School Drop Out. I know, too perfect.
My friend and I each selected a different style of Rose, a fruity varietal for me, and a dry version for her.
With wine in hand, we were ready to peruse the food menu. Belly's bites are mostly smaller plates designed for sharing, though there are a few entree options.
I found this line on the menu especially New Englandy and amusing:
We decided to share several plates, anxious to sample our way through as many items as possible.
We started with the arugula salad, which we both admitted we were only interested in for the avocado. The salad came topped with avocado, pecorino cheese and a buttermilk vinaigrette. It was a great starter dish, not too heavy, but still rich with flavor.
Two of our orders came on one board - the fried ceci beans and the fried zucchini.
The fried zucchini was served over ricotta and battered with chili, lemon and basil. You could really taste the lemon in every bite.
The ceci beans, similar to edamame, were extremely hard to eat. There was no graceful way to go about de-shelling these beans. They are definitely not first date food!
Belly also offers several cheese plate options. We selected the parmesan cheese, which came served with a side of honey in a fun vertical presentation.
What is it about parmesan cheese that just tastes so much better from a block than from a shaker?
We also ordered the butter cheese (like a Brie), which came accompanied by a small bowl of honey, a fruit spread and two types of crostini, a sourdough and a cranberry nut.
About half way through our plethora of snacks, we both wanted another glass of wine. Unfortunately, our waitress was nowhere to be found. She had taken a long time to take our food order, but we thought it was just because the patio was full. As the night wore on she became harder and harder to find, kind of ruining the whole experience.
As we left the bar (nearly 3 hours later), I couldn't help but stop to snap a few photos of the patio, glowing beneath the neat rows of bulbs.
Belly would be a fantastic place for a first date (skip the ceci beans) or a group dinner. The patio is quiet and beautiful, the wine list is excellent and the food is rich without being over the top.
Visit while the weather is still warm at One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139.