Earlier this month the co-owners of Belly Wine Bar, The Blue Room and Central Bottle announced that they would be closing their two restaurants in Kendall Square in Cambridge (Central Bottle, the wine store, will live on). Belly Wine Bar would have turned five this September and The Blue Room has been open for 26 years (21 under this management team). You can read more about the emotional decision to close in these two beautiful tributes, one in Eater Boston and one in Boston Magazine.
I first visited Belly Wine Bar in August 2013 and was immediately smitten. Their outdoor patio is a true hidden gem. The brick building feels classic Boston and the strings of lights twinkling over the apple red picnic tables add an element of pure magic, especially as the sun goes down.
Though I hadn't been back in years, I couldn't let Belly disappear without making one final visit. Earlier this week I went after work with a friend and felt profoundly sad that this would be the last time I sat under these lights.
We shimmied into our bench seats and were excited to see Belly was featuring a special rosé wine list for summer. I loved the night swimming illustration.
I was excited for a cold glass of rosé but didn't recognize any of the winemakers on the list, so we had to ask our server for a little help. In chatting with her, we learned that she used to work at Belly and when she heard it would be closing, called and asked if she could take on some shifts because she wanted to be part of the final weeks. How sweet is that?
After much discussion, I decided on a five ounce glass of the Rodon, known for its notes of strawberry.
My dinner date went with two different rosés, ordering a two ounce pour of each.
As we looked over the menu, I was ecstatic to see they still offer the cravero parmesano-reggiano cheese with carlisle honey. I had this during my very first meal at Belly and I still crave it.
The cheese has the richest, purest taste and is made even more decadent when drizzled with the sweet, sticky honey.
We also nibbled on the fried chickpeas with curry, chilis and mint. Once fried, the chickpeas tasted almost like peanuts or popcorn. If you love savory, salty, crunchy snacks, this is a must.
Next we shared a bowl of the handmade rigatoni with cream, lemon and pepper. Four simple ingredients, mixed expertly to create one perfect, addicting bite.
I love cacio e pepe pasta and this tasted like a lemon version of that signature Italian dish. I found the portion to be very small. We shared it, but even if I had my own bowl, it still wouldn't have been enough.
As our plates were cleared, we didn't want to get up. We didn't want to admit this would the last time we would be sitting under the lights in the quiet tranquility of the Belly patio.
Both Belly and The Blue Room will close on July 1, 2017. Don't worry, they are going out with a bang, hosting a New Orleans-style "funeral" complete with a parade through the Kendall Square courtyard.
Thank you, Belly, for the peace, the memories and the parmesan cheese.