When visiting Bel Ari’s website, I saw one line in their description that caught my eye- ” Great Italian restaurants don’t always have to be in the North End”. When I read this, I instantly knew I was going to like this place! After eating there and having what MJD called “the best pasta in Boston”, Bel Ari has become my favorite Italian restaurant in the city.
Located in the Leather District of Boston, Bel Ari is not in the stereotypical neighborhood for Italian restaurants, the North End and is in fact, a bit off the beaten path for weekend dining. The Leather District location is close to South Station and much busier during the week with commuters and people who work in the Financial District in the area. This allowed us to have a quiet and private Saturday evening dinner, which can be rare in the city where you sometimes are sitting so close to another couple you hear their whole conversation.
When you enter Bel Ari, you are greeted with a pretty bar area with some tables as well. We grabbed some delicious cocktails at the bar before taking our seats. If you like bubbly cocktails, I’d highly recommend the Il Bacio which hit the spot for me with the combination of vodka, limoncello, prosecco and grenadine. The table that we were seated at was along the brown leather banquet, which was really beautiful and a cozy contrast to the industrial feel of the ceiling with exposed HVAC and piping. In the dining room, there was large pizza oven area covered with black subway tile. Though we didn’t have the pizza, it looked delicious and would love to try it sometime soon.
Now to the food… we started our meal with the salumi plate with coppa, speck and bresaola. I’d had never had bresaola before and the staff was knowledgeable in explaining the qualities of the meat to us. We also enjoyed the burrata as an antipasti. I’m a sucker for burrata, especially when I know it is local like this one made from Vermont. Bel Ari served theirs with golden raisins and pine nuts which made for a delicious combination.
Moving on to the pasta, we first tried the gnocchi. This dish was to die for! Melt-in-your-mouth potato gnocchi are topped with shrimp, lobster and oyster mushrooms in a light, creamy sauce for a pasta dish I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I can’t say enough good things about this dish. Next, we had to order the bolognese which is MJD’s favorite sauce and way to have pasta. Bel Ari’s take on bolognese did not disappoint. In fact it looked so good, we dug in before I had a chance to take a good picture! As an bolognese connoisseur, MJD gave this one a strong endorsement calling it is favorite bolognese in Boston.
For secondi, we shared the Chicken Saltimbocca. How can you go wrong with something wrapped in proscuitto? The answer is you can’t! I especially loved the cherry-balsamic glaze on the entree and the subtle sweetness this gave to the dish. Because we wanted to try so many different things, MJD and I split everything. The pasta and entree portions were good size- I would definitely recommend splitting a pasta if you also want to have a secondi.
You know I can’t go out to eat without some dessert :)! We ordered the Cioccolato- a chocolate torte with gelato and rich chocolate. It was a perfect ending to dinner for a chocolate lover! At the end of our meal, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Chef Robert Fathman. Robert was so kind to come over table and I was really excited to tell him how much we loved our meal in person.
Bel Ari calls themselves Italian Modern- and I think they absolutely achieve that. If you can’t already tell, I can’t wait to go back to Bel Ari and try some more items off their menu. If our experience there was any indication of the rest of the menu, I know it will be another amazing meal!