Like being wrapped up in a cozy pashmina, the experience at Daniella’s Ristorante in Peabody is all about posh comfort. From the thoughtful hospitality to the expert preparation of classic Italian dishes, the intent is to create a familiar yet luxurious escape.
The husband and wife team of Daniella and Dan Mammola, who also own Pellana Prime Steakhouse in Peabody and Daniella’s Café & Market in Danvers, opened the ristorante as a companion to the more casual ambiance of the café, mixing the white-tablecloth service of Pellana with their Italian roots. That heritage is on full display at Daniella’s Ristorante, literally. Photos decorate the walls depicting everyone from members of Dan’s family, who ran the well-respected Natalie’s restaurant in Danvers for many years, to Daniella’s grandfather, who was a cook in the Italian Navy.
With Italy in the restaurant’s DNA, the preparations are classic, using only the best quality ingredients traditionally prepared. While the dishes are familiar, everything from the eggplant rollatini to the veal marsala is elevated by that careful attention to detail.
Take that eggplant rollatini, for example. It all starts with selecting the perfect nightshade—if the vegetable is too big, it is seedy and grainy. From there, thin slices are par-cooked before being stuffed and rolled with a secret blend that highlights hand-dipped ricotta, an artisanal product with a fluffier texture than its commercial sibling. The dish is served with a bright, fresh marinara sauce that offsets the creamy richness baked in. It’s a worthy start to a meal—and one you may not want to share. Use some of the complimentary garlic bread to enjoy any leftover sauce—the bread is Daniella’s own recipe, a staple she perfected at home before putting it on the menu.
If you’re planning to share, the burrata is a good choice—the buttery, creamy center is perfect, served with slices of crusty bread, eggplant caponata, and prosciutto. Salads come in two sizes, so you can share or not, and they are definitely no afterthought. The Italian wedge might make you smile with memories of that old-school hunk of lettuce, but the treatment, topped with creamy gorgonzola, pancetta and pickled onions, elevates that old trope in a delightful way. Looking for something heartier? Consider the chopped antipasto, dotted with slices of salami and provolone, with nuggets of pepperoncini bringing gentle heat.
Entrees are similarly enhanced representations of classic dishes. The hearty Bolognese, served over house-made rigatoni, is toothsome and rich. The vinegar peppers served with the pork chop—which is brined to ensure it is moist and tender—are made in-house. Even the Marsala wine used in the veal Marsala is special—it’s the same brand that Daniella’s grandmother always kept on her counter in her East Boston triple-decker.
As with sister restaurant Pellana, the wine list is thoughtful and extensive, including an impressive by-the-glass program that enables guests to enjoy a number of offerings usually only available by the bottle. The staff is carefully trained to guide you, whether you’re looking for a familiar bottle or want to try something new.
Be sure to save room for dessert—everything is made in house, overseen by pastry chef Karolina Sadova, who also runs the bakery at the café. Cannolis are filled to order, keeping those shells crisp, with a house-secret recipe that includes the aforementioned hand-dipped ricotta. All the desserts, like tiramisu and even the impressive biscotti, are big enough to share.
The space, formerly occupied by the couple’s Alto Forno restaurant, exudes welcoming warmth, with dark wood beams, a red-brick wood burning oven, and polished brass highlighting the place. A large enclosed patio is especially welcoming at lunchtime, when sunlight streams in. While heaters keep the area cozy day and night, you might want to bring a pashmina, just to fit the vibe.
41 Cross St. Peabody, 978-871-2942, daniellasristorante.com