Small Plates And Pizza At Pastoral

Wood-fired knot with fennel sausage and ricotta at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

Pastoral is one of the many new additions to the Fort Point area, and seeing that the menu featured primarily pizza and lots of small plates, as well as wine and interesting-sounding cocktails, my friend and I made plans to meet there for dinner. I got down to the area a little earlier than she did and sat by the water for a few minutes soaking up some sun before heading into the restaurant. We were seated at a two-top near the open front windows -- perfect for people watching -- in the dining room area, where we could see most of the restaurant and even catch a glimpse of the action in the open kitchen.

Our waitress came over to take our drink order and offered to answer any questions about the menu. I asked her for recommendations, and she asked if we just wanted pizza or wanted to sample a bunch of things and split a pizza. We both immediately said yes to the second option, and my friend added that we always like to try as much as possible. Our waitress immediately made a bunch of great recommendations, and we tailored her suggestions based on our likes and dislikes, such as crossing off chicken liver crostini and swapping in ricotta dumplings, until we had a list that sounded good to us.

After we placed our order, we caught up while sipping cocktails. The cocktails ended up being our least favorite part of the meal. I went with the nectarine fizz, which sounded interesting, with gin, nectarine, orange flower, and egg white, but it was sweeter and much less frothy than I'd expected. And my friend ordered the paloma-esque, which she admits she probably shouldn't have ordered because she doesn't tend to like mezcal. Those into that smoky flavor would enjoy it though. We switched to wine after we finished and were much happier. I had a Barbera blend that went really nicely with our pizza.

The food was impressive, and we were happy with everything we ordered. The eggplant polpette (basically eggplant "meat"balls) were filled with gooey cheese and covered with crunchy bread crumbs. It was good that there are only two in a serving because I probably could have eaten a whole bowlful.

Eggplant polpette at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

We couldn't resist the burrata with heirloom tomatoes, a special that night. This, for me, is one of those quintessential summer dishes. The best are simple, letting the summer tomatoes shine, and this one fit the bill, pairing the colorful jewels with the creamy burrata, thin slices of prosciutto, and a little basil and oil.

Burrata and tomatoes at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

I had studied the menu beforehand and thought we really needed to try some of the wood-fired knots. Pastoral has garlic knots, knots with mixed olives and anchovy, and some with sausage and ricotta. We ordered the sausage one since it came highly recommended by our waitress, and it was awesome. It was not exactly what I was expecting. Instead of being like a typical garlic knot (basically a knot of dough brushed with oil and garlic and herbs), this was more like a calzone, filled with sausage and cheese and whole roasted garlic cloves. The knot was a nice size for sharing and impossible not to love. It was doughy and cheesy and so flavorful from the roasted garlic and fennel sausage.

Wood-fired knot with fennel sausage and ricotta at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

On top of the small plates, we split a half order of ricotta dumplings with lobster, corn, and sausage. There's always the worry that gnocchi will be dense and gummy, but these were perfectly light and fluffy. I thought pairing lobster and sausage was interesting -- I can't ever remember having the two together. And my friend commented that the sauce was reminiscent of chowder. The combination made for a summery pasta dish you'd expect in this area.

Ricotta dumplings with lobster, corn, and sausage at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

And of course we had to try the pizza. We decided to keep it simple with the margherita -- though there were many intriguing options. The pizza crust was incredibly chewy and had just a slight bit of charring. And we loved the puddles of mozzarella and fresh basil leaves dotting the layer of tomato sauce.

Margherita pizza at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

We spent several minutes debating whether we could handle a few bites of the Nutella pizzetta or a scoop of gelato for dessert. In the end, we decided we were too full (could you blame us?) and would have to try dessert on another visit. Our evening at Pastoral was filled (so filled) with delicious food and friendly and attentive service. I always love being able to try a few bites of different things, and Pastoral's menu is designed so you can do just that.

Have you been to Pastoral yet?

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