Burlington’s L’Andana takes your palate on a culinary thrill ride. By Anna and David Kasabian. Photograph by Anthony Tieuli.
First, bravo to the designers and decorators of Burlington’s new Tuscan-inspired L’Andana for instantly transporting diners from the dreary world of pavement and malls into a serene culinary oasis. The massive room with huge windows and oversized rustic chandeliers hanging beneath a gaping exposed ceiling recall Manhattan’s Meat Packing District, where old packing plants have been transformed into chic eateries. Yet despite the striking scale of the room, each candlelit table feels intimate.
We began our meal with the fried calamari, filled to the brim of an adorable cast iron pot, mixed with slivers of Tuscan red peppers and joined by tomato brodo and lemon aioli for dipping. The combination of crunchy, savory, hot, and zesty made for an auspicious beginning.
Our pasta course was linguine with Maine lobster, wild mushrooms, and truffle butter. Toothsome Italian pasta, generous chunks of tender lobster meat, and earthy mushrooms were bathed in a luxurious, umami-tasting sauce of freshly-made lobster broth, Vermont butter, and truffles. Outstanding.
Meanwhile, two Italian white wines vied for our affection. The 2007 Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Fontaleoni was pale and shy, yet brisk and fruity with a fleeting finish. The 2007 Gavi di Gavi from Beni di Batasiolo came on a bit stronger with its tawnier straw tint and fuller body. Both were impressive, so no favorite was declared.
Next, L’Andana’s signature Crisp Chicken Milanese. Boneless breast of chicken was pounded thin, coated in herbed panko, and pan fried in fragrant olive oil. The platter-sized cutlet was adorned with sweet oven-dried Roma tomatoes, fresh arugula, a spritz of lemon, and ribbons of Parmesan cheese. It’s not an uncommon dish, but L’Andana’s version proves that fabulous ingredients in the hands of a skilled chef can make the familiar quite extraordinary.
The new wines on our table for the main course were a bicoastal battle of the reds. First, a warm and spicy 2007 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara’s Five Rivers Vineyard sported lots of personality, but was food friendly nonetheless. Second, a surprising 2006 Turtle Creek Zinfandel from-of all places-Lexington, Massachusetts. Sheer exuberance and quaffability earned two thumbs up for the local contender.
For dessert, the Cioccolato, a molten chocolate cake made with just a tiny amount of flour in the batter. The result was a near-theatrical surge of silken chocolate when cut into with a spoon. Served with house-made vanilla gelato and a perfect little pool of salted caramel sauce, this was a highly commendable ending.
Thanks for this culinary thrill ride go to Chef Joe Cassinelli, who should be familiar to diners at the groundbreaking Mistral in Boston’s South End. Okay, let’s see: great room, smart service, nice vibe, fabulous food, and plenty of free parking. Remind us again-why would we want to drive to Boston?
Chef: Joe Cassinelli. Primi: Crisp calamari
with Tuscan peppers, tomato brodo, and lemon aioli ($15). Pasta: Linguine with Maine lobster, wild mushrooms, truffle butter ($18 appetizer, $34 main course). Entree: Crisp Chicken Milanese, tomatoes, arugula, lemon, Parmesan cheese ($22). Dessert: Molten chocolate cake, vanilla gelato, salted caramel sauce ($10).
Location: 86 Cambridge Street, Burlington,Â 781-270-0100, landanagrill.com