Foodstuffs: Tosci’s nearly scooping up in Central; Takeda backs Food for Free; Holiday meals to go (updated)
Tosci’s sets a reopening date
A date for Toscanini’s reopening in Lafayette Square has been set: Jan. 1.
It’s about six months off – for good reason – from what co-owner Gus Rancatore hoped when asked in June about his expectations for the 899 Main St. location, at the southeast end of Central Square. The spot opened in 1981 and closed Jan. 23, 2018, to make way for construction of the boutique hotel 907 Main, which includes a ground-floor restaurant called The Dial, a patisserie called Praline and a rooftop lounge called The Blue Owl that also missed a hoped-for summer launch.
The reopening means the “same beloved space, same small batch ice cream, but this time with a selfie wall,” Tosci’s posted Saturday on its social media.
There will be some soft opening hours before Jan. 1, said Patrick Barrett, the hotel proprietor.
In the meantime, Rancatore and sister Mimi Rancatore continue work at the Toscanini’s at 159 First St., East Cambridge, which a sign posted at the site says closes temporarily Jan. 1-2 as the original location reopens.
But what happened? Barrett explained in August, with some understatement: “The real delay was for discovering all the lovely things inside the building. Once we started taking it apart [we saw Toscanini’s] production area was completely unsupported by any structure – that was fun to find out. Instead of trying to keep their space intact, we ripped it all to pieces and put new steel and concrete in, which is better than the shims and no structure they had before.”
Takeda backs Food for Free
Food for Free has had a busy couple of years trying to keep up with demand for hunger relief work that was multiplied by the pandemic. On Dec. 7 the nonprofit based in Central Square announced getting its largest donation in 40 years of work – enough to “provide more than 1.2 million fresh, healthy meals for people in need,” said Sasha Purpura, chief executive of Food For Free. “This support could not come at a better time.” The giver was Takeda, a pharma company with buildings in Kendall Square and Cambridgeport, as part of a $20 million corporate social responsibility program around health, education, the environment and access to nutritional food. Daily Table, which operates a grocery store in Central Square, was another recipient, as was Cambridge’s CitySprouts educational growing program. (Non-food recipients in Cambridge included The Young People’s Project, Tutoring Plus and Lesley University’s Culturally Relevant Math Expressions Program, according to a Nov. 30 press release from Takeda.)
Christmas dinner, and breakfast
You can get your Christmas meals almost anywhere, but some restaurants in Cambridge are giving their offerings extra thought (and promotion), including …
- Clover has a bunch of appealing ideas inside its Christmas Boxes, including full meals ranging from $120 for two to $300 for a party of 10 that can be delivered Dec. 22-24 to people who order at least 48 hours ahead of each distribution date. There’s a risk these will sell out – most of Clover’s seasonal boxes do. In addition to the full meals, there are options with a Formaggio cheese board ($60), Jason Bond’s slice-and-bake cookies for Santa ($35), pie from Petsi’s ($28) and a holiday breakfast box ($45) with coffee cake from Cambridge’s Revival Café, a hot cocoa mix from Goodnow Farms in Sudbury, some cranberry maple nausamp – a Wampanoag-style corn porridge – with Plimoth Grist Mill corn and a bag of whole bean Montecarlos coffee roasted by George Howell. Order online.
- Catalyst chef/owner William Kovel, who mentions a few highlights from a catering menu available through Dec. 24 such as mains of prime rib roast with a rosemary, thyme black pepper crust served with au jus and horseradish cream ($135, serving up to eight people); a rack of lamb with mustard herb crust and rosemary jus ($65, serving two); and a baked stuffed lobster ($55). Maybe the real selling point for Catalyst is the S’mores Tart with chocolate filling, graham cracker crust and marshmallow topping ($30, serving up to eight people).
- Bar Enza is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Christmas Eve with a $155, five-course prix-fixe menu: A Tramezzini trio of Venetian sandwiches featuring caviar and egg; a lobster sunchokes salad with white truffle fonduta; a shrimp scampi with black truffles; a truffled beef steak with twice-baked potato; and white truffle gelato with toasted panettone.
- Geppetto by Will Gilson has a traditional seven-course Feast of Seven Fishes for $110 per person available from 5 to 10 p.m. Christmas Eve, starting with a Bay Scallop crudo, and a chilled lobster salad with potatoes, stracciatella and white truffles. Then comes a grilled stuffed calamari, and a fritto misto with shrimp, red fish and delicata squash. Next are a saffron chitarra with crab, toasted garlic and lemon; salt cod cannelloni; and smoked swordfish belly “saltimbocca” with prosciutto, sage and fennel. The dessert is a torta della nonna with ricotta, candied orange and pine nuts.