The owners of LaStoria Trattoria in Stoughton, MA certainly aren’t bashful. On their homepage, they state that their establishment ‘is not your usual “Red Sauce” Italian restaurant.” Only a few years ago, however, their menu read like one: wood-grilled pizzas, veal marsala, eggplant parmiagiano, blah, blah, blah. While the food was often solidly executed, it was rarely adventurous, and I ultimately found myself attracted to newer restaurants that prepared dishes with bolder ingredients and flavors. LaStoria, sadly, became an afterthought in the ever-changing restaurant industry.
When my in-laws mentioned that they had recently re-visited this Italian eatery and raved about its distinctly different menu, I decided to give LaStoria a second chance. To my surprise, I discovered that the menu – which had always boasted dishes from all regions of Italy including Sicily, Napoli, Roma, Calabria, Firenze, and Venice – was finally making good on its promise to deliver an inspiring variety of food true to its roots.
Adding affordable piattini (little plates) to the menu was a stroke of genius. Ranging from $3.50-6.50, these unique Italian style tapas include prosciutto crostini with gig glaze ($5), fried goat cheese stuffed green olives ($3.50), and truffled “Mac n Cheese” ($6.50). We opt for the equally enticing antipasti, particularly the creative scampi e Fagioli “al Forno” ($9.50), which features four plump prosciutto wrapped shrimp atop crispy spinach (comparable to kale) and a sinfully delectable white bean puree (which also accompanies complimentary fresh foccacia bread). On paper, the smorgasbord of flavors here sounds questionable at best, but on plate, it’s a hugely successful dish. Like much of LaStoria’s revamped menu, it’s a wildly pleasant surprise.
The menu is also broken out into traditional pasta dishes ($11-18), LaStoria Classici (including aforementioned marsala and parmesiana style dishes ($15-19), and more daring specialty pasta (including zucca tortellini e Cape Sante, which includes pumpkin filled pasta, maple glazed sea scallops, roast butternut squash, sage and cream for $17) and second dishes. Of the latter, Arista Griglia ($17) boasts perfectly grilled pork tenderloin drizzled with a just-sweet-enough apple cider glaze reduction, accompanied by sweet potato mashed and green beans. I gravitate towards the evening’s special, a generous serving of ultra-tender, fall-off-the-bone veal ossco bucco ($18). The meal is noteworthy for its restraint in terms of incorporating a subtle tomato relish sauce so as not to overpower the meat’s flavor. My one complaint? A blasé side of garlic soaked pasta had me yearning for a more hearty starch such as mushroom risotto. A rum-soaked dessert of tiramisu, however, quickly washed any complaints away. It packed the perfect amount of liquour and texture (neither too dense nor too light) and was light years ahead of its flavorless predecessor years back.
LaStoria also serves a wide assortment of wines and a unique selection of seasonal cocktails including carrot cake (with butter shots) and key lime martinis. As we wait for our tables, the bartender forewarns me that the Hot Apple Cider martini packs quite a wallop, and it does. The rums contained therein, however, overpower the cider flavor, rendering this also only lukewarm cocktail virtually undrinkable. Faring significantly better, however, is the espresso martini, a sweet, caffeinated concoction that excels where other versions (either too creamy or too much alcohol over espresso) have miserably failed.
LaStoria’s space is relatively small and sometimes cramped (you can practically talk with your neighbors at the next table), but this often lends well to a more intimate meal. Service was more than adequate, if not great. Our waitress was genial and knowledgeable enough, though an extra visit or two to inquire about our meal or re-fill water glasses would have sufficed. A cappuccino came out well after my tiramisu had been consumed, though accompanied by a sincere apology from our server.
But that’s why consumers pay exorbitant prices at more glamorous, upscale restaurants. I’ll take the high quality fare and incredible value (no entrees exceeding $20) that this quaint little Italian restaurant offers, thank you very much. By exchanging its red sauce roots for more sophisticated dishes, this LaStoria is writing a brand new chapter in its stories history. Count me in once again as a loyal reader – I mean, eater.
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