I went to Scampo for the first time this past May for my post-graduation dinner. The entire experience was 100% flawless and my family has been raving about it ever since. My parents loved it so much they suggested it when they came to town last weekend. Initially, I was shocked. How could my Mom, who doesn’t normally like Italian food (tragic, I know) ask me if I wanted to go to Scampo? The stars must have been aligned because she was actually serious. Hellz yea.
For those who aren’t already obsessed, Scampo is Lydia Shire‘s restaurant in the bottom floor of the Liberty Hotel. Scampo’s menu is made up of simple Italian food that draws on flavors from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
One of Scampo’s best qualities is the atmosphere. It’s relaxed yet vibrant at the same time. It’s a full house but each table still feels private.
The top part of the menu is dedicated to bread (aside from the complementary bread sticks with fava bean puree dip). We ordered the Elephant Ear Walking first, which is one of Scampo’s signature items. This will never get old: crispy papadam-like bread with tomato sauce and mozzarella, like a pizza cracker.
The beef carpaccio was my favorite appetizer. The fresh and high quality ingredients really made a difference in taste. (It also didn’t hurt that the carpaccio came with creamy burrata mozzarella and shaved Parmesan.) Coming in at a close second was the white pizza with truffled cheese, sherried chanterelles and fig preserve. So good. It had a great mix of sweet and salty flavors, but it was really heavy. The last app we ordered was the Spaghetti Bolognese (all Spaghettis come in small appetizer portions to share) and it wasn’t as good as I remembered. The pasta was swimming in sauce, which would have been fine if the sauce was good, but it was watery! Gah, so watery. There were also certain pieces of meat in the sauce were that were really overcooked, every so often I would take a bite of a rock hard chunk in the sauce. Not cool.
For an entrée we got the Tagliata of Prime Sirloin. This was served on top of a sweet potato puree with polenta logs. We all loved this dish, the meat was cooked perfectly and the sweet potatoes were a really nice side. Then we also ordered the Spaghetti with Cracklings & Hot Pepper because the Bolognese didn’t satisfy our pasta craving. This spaghetti did the trick, it was much more balanced. Cracklings = croutons, apparently. Random, but very tasty.
Tagliata of Prime Sirloin | Spaghetti with Cracklings & Hot Pepper
We had the Apple Crostata for dessert. I give it a 4 out of 5, it tasted great, but nothing super memorable. I ❤ the apple chip on top.
My experience was 90% fabulous. It was just missing something. After reading Boston Globe article about Scampo, I now have a good idea as to why: Lydia Shire was not present. Without Lydia Shire in the house, Scampo doesn’t live up to it’s full potential. The charm of Scampo comes from her energy and presence in the room.
Bottom Line: Go to Scampo on a weekend night (when your parents are in town), hopefully Shire will be there!