Back in July 2017, Pammy's opened on Mass. Ave in Cambridge, MA. After reading a few glowing reviews from food critics and early visitors, I made a reservation to check it out myself. I was completely enchanted. The space is beautiful, there are fresh flowers on every surface, the lighting feels so warm and cozy, and don't even get me started on the bread. Here is the ode I wrote after that very first visit.
I was able to snag a reservation in February 2018, a special treat while one of my best friends was in town from Washington D.C. Shortly after that, Pammy's was named the Best New Restaurant of 2018 by Boston Magazine, and made the shortlist for Bon Appetit's Hot 10 List. While I was thrilled for the hardworking team, my next thought was, "Well, I'll never be able to get in there again."
To force myself not to give up, I made a New Year's resolution for 2019 to find a way back to Pammy's, even just once. I am pleased to say this resolution is now complete!
I made the dinner reservation for March 5 on January 23. I would say six weeks is about the right timeline if you want to secure a table.
When we arrived, one of the hostesses walked us to a table in the front window. As we settled in, I asked my dinner date for her impressions on the space, since this was her first visit. She commented, "I love all the greenery. It feels reviving in the middle of winter, almost like the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I really love the ambiance too - the dim lighting is creating a soft glow."
Our first order of business was to decide on drinks. I chose a glass of Sangiovese, and my friend selected the Argento cocktail, which was rye, sweet vermouth, walnut liquer, honey and lavender bitters.
After a few sips, I asked what she thought. "I'm a big fan of the giant square ice cube. The drink has a strong honey flavor, but not as much lavender taste as I was hoping for. Because the ice cube is so huge, and it's slowly melting, this is like the drink that keeps on giving!"
My Sangiovese was a perfect choice on a freezing cold night. I felt like it was warming me from the inside out with every sip.
After we placed our food order, our server delivered a plate of bread and olive oil.
It's hard to explain how delicious this bread is. It has a doughy center and a crust with a satisfying chew to it. The olive oil tasted like it had just been pressed in Italy and then brought straight to our table.
Our first course was the antipasti plate, a potpourri of meats, cheeses and edible garnishes. I gasped (in delight) at the vertical presentation from the breadsticks.
There were three kinds of meat, three kinds of cheese, grilled bread, the gravity-defying breadsticks, olives and grapes. The plating for this tray was so intentional, and the result was a thing of beauty.
For just the two of us, it was a lot of food, but in a group of four, I think this would have been devoured in minutes.
Next up was the main event, pasta. Across the table, my friend was twirling a fork in the bucatini with grilled shrimp, pistachios and chili oil.
As she was noshing, she described, "The shrimp came on a skewer, and it was well cooked, tender and delicious. The shrimp flavor carried through to every bite. I really liked the crunch from the pistachios. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the volume of greens, but as I started to mix them into the pasta, they melded to form super tasty bites."
Pammy's always has one vegetarian pasta dish and that evening it was casarecce with wild mushrooms, Swiss chard and French butter pears.
I love mushrooms, and this dish had that signature, earthy taste. The Swiss chard added a nice texture. Sometimes vegetarian dishes can feel thin, but this was a complete, complex dish, bursting with flavor. I made it disappear pretty quickly.
For dessert, we decided on the affogato, which if you aren't familiar, is vanilla ice cream, topped with hot espresso.
I don't drink coffee, so when I dunked my spoon in and took my first bite (more like sip), I felt an immediate jolt!
For me, the star of this dish was actually the piece of biscotti served on the side. It was softer than a typical biscotti, not crumbly or dry at all, and had just the right amount of cinnamon. It tasted even more amazing when dunked in the espresso / ice cream mixture.
When our server returned with the check, not only was it printed on gorgeous, rose-themed paper, but it was topped with two, teeny tiny cookies. Pammy's just gets me.
While my resolution is complete, I'm optimistic I can snag a table at Pammy's at least one more time this year. I hope they bring back the fettucce alfredo.
Tell me, have you been to Pammy's? Which pasta dish has been your favorite?
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