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Last week, my terrific coworker Ratha Tep and I headed to NYC's James Beard House for a six-course dinner by Dante deMagistris of the Boston restaurant Dante. His best dish: a crispy veal sweetbread served with bouncy slivers of marinated mushroom “crudo,” house-made sweet-and-sour mostarda and tender tortellini stuffed with luscious mascarpone and whipped ricotta. The restaurant’s maverick sommelier, 22-year-old Chas Boynton, who trained under Master of Wine Sandy Block of Legal Sea Foods, nailed the pairing with an off-dry Riesling—2005 JJ Prüm Spatlese from the Mosel in Germany, to be exact. At restaurants, I never order fruit soup for dessert but pastry chef Daniel Morley’s delicate chilled citrus soup was a lovely, nuanced tonic that pooled around a bitter bergamot sorbet. Like a gin distiller, Morley didn’t reveal all the botanicals that make the soup so complex.
DeMagistris’s latest project is Il Casale, a restaurant he hopes to open in the fall in an old fire station in Belmont, a northwest suburb where he was raised. Compared to Dante restaurant, this place will be more relaxed, with the kinds of homestyle southern Italian dishes he eats when visiting his extended family members who live outside Naples. I’m already scheming of ways to get to Boston later this year.