Villa Francesca

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of dining at Villa Francesca, nestled in Boston's North End just off of Hanover Street, in the company of some of my favorite bloggers. I got to chat with old friends, make new friends, and enjoy an outstanding Italian dinner.

When I arrived at Villa Francesca, the hostess greeted me outside the restaurant, walked me inside, and directed me to a staircase in the back corner. I descended the staircase to find a spread of oysters and small bottles of Prosecco all chilling on ice as well as my favorite food bloggers standing around, enjoying the spread, and chatting. I jumped right into the circle. I gave a huge hug to Katie (Small Boston Kitchen) who I was finally meeting after numerous online conversations and back and forth commenting on each other's blogs, and I caught up with Daisy (Indulge Inspire Imbibe), Michelle (Fun and Fearless in Beantown), Alicia (The Clean Plate Club), Meghan (Travel, Wine, and Dine), Lara (Good Cook Doris), and Justin (@Justincancook). Throughout the evening I also met Renee (Yesterday Is Over My Shoulder) and Melissa (Foodies At Work).

Katie and me
After we mingled, sipped Prosecco, and slurped back oysters to our hearts' content, we sat at a long table together and began perusing the night's menu.

The waitress came around and offered us red or white wine. I went with the red for a nice change after the Prosecco. I finally had a chance to really check out the restaurant setting at this point. We were seated in a room with a low ceiling and exposed rafters, brick walls, and a quaint wine cellar. It was very cozy and secluded from the rest of the restaurant upstairs. I really liked this atmosphere.

Plates of antipasti were set before us, and as good food bloggers do, we all snapped some pictures before digging in. The antipasti consisted of salami pyramids, prosciutto, purple and green olives, tomato and mozzarella slices, and chunks of cheese. The bits of coldcuts and caprese salad were an excellent lead in to the next course, which turned out to be my favorite.

Antipasti Della Casa
We were served a half portion of the fettucine con gamberi, a pasta dish with a tomato-basil cream sauce and perfectly cooked shrimp. I relished this tender pasta and the bright, fresh flavor of the sauce. The half portion was enough for a whole meal. I don't know how I made it through the rest of the courses!

Fettucine Con Gamberi
For my entree, I selected the pollo Monte, and Daisy, who sat across from me, ordered the sole. We decided to split our entrees so we could both try each dish.

Normally, I wouldn't order a chicken dish, but this chicken was layered with eggplant and topped with artichokes and a white wine sauce -- definitely not your typical chicken dish. I love eggplant so that was mostly what inspired me to order it. (The restaurant also makes this dish with veal sometimes.)

Pollo Monte
I was very pleased with my choice and overjoyed when I tried the potatoes that came on the side and found that they were actually cooked properly! For some reason potatoes like this are often undercooked, and it drives me nuts because I love potatoes. The chicken was moist, the eggplant was tasty, and the sauce pulled all the components together.

The sole was very tasty as well. I loved how it was served simply with tomatoes and basil.

Sogliola Alla Meditteranea

And no dinner is complete without dessert. I don't think any of us were surprised to see that the dessert for the evening was cannoli (we were in the North End), but I think we were all surprised to find out that our cannoli were being filled tableside. Bill Ranauro, owner of Villa Francesca, filled my cannoli himself and topped it with powdered sugar and chocolate chips as I had requested. (We were given a choice of powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and/or walnuts.)

I think Justin and Daisy really enjoyed their desserts!

Justin and Daisy showing off dessert
And I really loved mine too. Bill explained to us that the shells and filling are made in house, and the filling is simply sugar and ricotta. Many places add flour or other ingredients to the ricotta to make it go farther, sacrificing the quality of the filling. There was definitely no lack of quality in these cannoli, or any part of our meal for that matter.

I had a really fun evening, and I know I'll definitely stop into Villa Francesca when I'm looking for a hearty and satisfying Italian dinner in the future.

Thank you so much to Kristen Haley, also known as Beantown Socialite, for inviting me and to Bill and all the staff at Villa Francesca for hosting us, feeding us, treating us, and making us all feel so welcome and at home. This dinner was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Have you eaten at any restaurants in Boston's North End? Which ones? And what did you think?


The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Love the group shot! Was so great to FINALLY meet you in person, looking forward to our next meeting!!

Daisy said...

Seriously, the best cannoli I've ever had in the north end. No wonder I'm so proud to show it off.

This was such a great night. I'll never forget the look you shot me when I ordered that espresso. ;)

Stephanie Savors the Moment said...

Looks like a fabulous time was had by all! How great you all got together & I just love Boston's North End. I used to go to Il Bacio and Cafe Florentine with my best friend who now lives in Beverly. Cheers to you!

Lisa said...

Looks like you all had such a great time! Food, wine, friends, and laughs - nothing beats it! You look gorgeous and very happy :)

BTW..I forgot to mention that I loved your story about how your aunt learned to make pierogis from her mom-in-law and passed that down to you. I wish I had cut them into squares, one simple fold!! lol

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

That was such a great evening! I loved the group shot...even if we tried to sneak out of it :-)

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I love antipasti. My bf and I go to Bacco a lot but every single restaurant I've tried in the North End is fantastic! I did like Villa Francesca but haven't been back in a while. And as long as there's cannoli at the end of the meal, I'm happy!

The Diva on a Diet said...

How fun! The NYC food bloggers really need to get together and do this sort of thing. I'm envious!

The meal looks fantastic, and I'm definitely drooling over that fettucine and shrimp dish. Yum!

Evan @swEEts said...

How fun! It must be fun to get together with other food bloggers and the food looks delicious!

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

I love the North End! We really like Carmen and Mamma Maria, and I will definitely go back to Villa Francesca. It was great to see you!

Eliana said...

Sounds like it was such a fun get together :)

theUngourmet said...

It looks like such a fun evening! You know, I don't think I've ever tasted cannoli. Can you believe that?!