The Liberty Hotel is the former Boston City Jail.
Scampo, on the first floor of the Liberty Hotel in Boston, has been transformed into a comfortable, elegant Italian restaurant, while it exudes a modern aesthetic retaining elements of the Victorian Charles Street jail.
In the Liberty Hotel video chef/owner Lydia Shire tells viewers, “I was looking through an Italian dictionary and I came across this word — ‘scampo’ — which in Italian means to escape — and I thought, Oh, my God, how perfect, we’re in a jail!”
Elephant Ear Walking Bread.
At the heart of the dining room is a shiny copper hood covering an expansive cooking area framed by a bar and lounge. Paper thin prosciutto slides onto plates with imported Italian mozzarella and persimmon.
Homemade bread and pizza alternate in and out of ovens. And as chef Shire says, “It’s not a pure Italian restaurant because, of course I throw in a little Indian or Moroccan or something — but it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s a comfort food place.”
The pastry with lamb is
crisp and golden brown.
Joined by two friends, Robin and Jim Hollister, we quickly discovered that booking in advance, even in these prickly financial times, is essential on a Saturday night. I was told that two Celtics stars had just been seated with friends at a nearby table. Clearly this was a popular eatery.
Jim perused the extensive list of imported and domestic wine and ordered a nice bottle of Ramey 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley for the table. The servers were fast, fun, and efficient. We nibbled on homemade bread while deciding what to order. There were so many interesting choices: homemade pasta and risotti, pizza, spaghetti, tagliata of wagyu sirloin, tandori fired large sea scallops on whipped white eggplant. And the mozzarella bar
spumoni with claret sauce.
Robin and I had to try the Vampire’s hot garlic soup with soft potato . . . rocket & rosemary ($13). The soup spoon slid through the creamy soup until it captured a weighty bite of smooth pureed potato. The result was both comforting and tasty. We also tried a specialty dish from the mozzarella bar consisting of king crab, cocktail avocado, Italian mozzarella & green mustard oil ($18).
Crusted cod with cauliflower mousse, and sweet lobster fennel emulsion.
I ordered the Scottish salmon with a wisp of juniper smoke . . . whip of skordalia and fresh favas ($29). The salmon was so delicious and moist it literally melted in my mouth. I was acutely aware of its taste and texture since a week earlier I had ordered a similar dish at the Society Café at Encore in Las Vegas and had been served a tasty, but dry piece of salmon. The contrast was remarkable.
Italian mozzarella with
king crab, cocktail avocado
and green mustard oil.
We ordered the homemade Ciccio, a naan type bread with melted cheese in the middle ($10). Delicious. Robin ordered the crisp duck with winter cherries-maraschino liquore and ricotta crespelle ($31). The duck was moist with a richness from the cherries. Jim ordered the milk braised ‘sugarcane’ Kurobuta pork chop with rutabaga and Roxbury russet apple roast ($29). The chop was tender and exceedingly flavorful. In each case, the dishes were beautifully presented.
Tiramisu with Tia Maria
liquor and bitter chocolate.
Dessert was a challenge. We were all full, yet we couldn’t resist. The tiramisu with Tia Maria liquor and bitter chocolate was light and delicate. That and a chocolate lovers treat was the perfect ending to an absolutely delicious meal.
I went back to Scampo the following night to snap a few pictures and had the good fortune to meet Lydia Shire. The James Beard award-winning chef presides over her culinary kingdom, donning many hats.
Lemon Cheese Cake.
First and foremost she is the creative force behind the food and wine, but it doesn’t stop there. Shire is a woman of passion — passionate about the quality of the ingredients she uses, passionate about the food served in her restaurants (she owns several), and passionate about her customers.
n 2008 Esquire magazine named Scampo one of the top 20 restaurants in the USA.
Rare Tuna Ahi Salad.
Before leaving I had lunch at Scampo and was again greatly impressed by the quality and originality of the food, as well as the service. I had the rare ahi tuna salad.
The prices are in line, if not more reasonable than most fine dining establishments.
For reservations call: 617-536-2100 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org
Or logon to www.scampobsoton.com
— Feature and photos by Linda Lane, Jetsetters Magazine Entertainment Editor. Opening interior photo by Eric Levin Photography.