This statement might surprise you: Carrot cake is not my favorite dessert.
Don’t get me wrong, I love carrot cake. My wedding cake was carrot cake, but it’s not my absolute favorite dessert. My favorite dessert ever is bread pudding. To me, it’s heaven in dessert form. I pretty much like all varieties of bread pudding, but my current favorite is Sonsie’s Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Holy yum! Seriously!
Anyway, at the Uni dinner that I recently attended, someone mentioned that Spiga in Needham has the best bread pudding in the area. Of course, I was intrigued, so I made a mental note to visit sometime soon. Not even 2 days later, I received an email inviting me to try Chef Marisa Iocco’s latest creations at Spiga Trattoria Italiana. Of course, I had to accept the invitation! It was bread pudding fate! 😉
(FYI: Chef Iocco is one of the Boston area’s most acclaimed female chefs. She has cooked at a number of restaurants in the North End, including Galleria Italiana, La Bettola, So. End Galleria, Bricco, Umbria, Mare, and Il Panino).
I arrived late to Spiga. (Traffic, horrible Mapquest directions, etc.) Spiga’s location is right off the highway exit, but it definitely sneaks up on you. I almost drove right by it! I didn’t expect to see an Italian Trattoria in the area!
Upon entered the restaurant, I was greeted by adorable patio– perfect for al fresco summer dining. I’d visit Spiga again for just this reason as well as the relaxing suburban atmosphere and easy parking.
Spiga is a casual trattoria, serving simple fare like wood-oven pizza and panini cafeteria style, indoors or on our sunny, landscaped patio. By night, copper silk drapes, white linens and shimmering sconces bathe Spiga in a romantic glow; the ideal stage for Chef Iocco’s creative fare.
As I previously mentioned, I arrived late, so as I sat down to dinner, the first course was being served to the table. I actually had a little trouble remembering the first dish, which is why I don’t have much to say about it. After being lost and late, I was a tad flustered!
INSALATA OF OCTOPUS
CELERY & POTATO MATCHES, ASSORTED OLIVES, OLIVE OIL, LEMON SEA SALT
The Insalata of Octopus was summery, light, and visually appetizing. The flavor of the octopus reminded me a lot of tuna.
With dinner, I enjoyed a glass of Pinot Grigio.
MINIATURE SWEET PEPPERS, FRISEE, GARLIC CONFIT CONDIMENT
I actually didn’t get to taste the scallops because there were none left by the time the dish made it to the end of the table, but they looked deliciously grilled. The sweet peppers were really oily, but the flavor was nice.
PARMIGIANO GRATIN, FARRO, AVOCADO SALAD, CITRUS VINAIGRETTE
Yum! This dish was probably my favorite of the night! The shrimp was coated in a light Parmigiano Gratin, which gave it a grainy texture and wonderful Parmigiano flavor. The farro was a-mazing! Loved it! It was mixed with avocado, which made it soft and mushy. The flavor was mostly avocado and somewhat salty.
Invited to the dinner at Spiga were 8 food bloggers from in and around Boston. I felt right at home with this group!
FREE FORM LASAGNA
CREPES NAPOLEON, BUFALA MOZZARELLA, SCALLOPS, LITE FUME’ BROTH
The food bloggers were divided about this dish. I liked it quite a lot, but I understood why some people weren’t crazy about it. The dish was made up of soft, eggy crepe layers with chopped scallops throughout. I enjoyed texture, but the dish was not at all like lasagna– no cheese, no sauce. It actually seemed more like an appetizer than an entree. I’m not sure what to make of this one!
CHEF SIGNATURE BOLOGNESE RAGU, JULIENNE BASIL & RICOTTA SALATA
Yum! I loved this one. While the homemade pappardelle added a lightness to the dish, the bolognese sauce and ricotta made it a hearty meal at the same time.
l had a small taste of red wine when the main course was served to the table.
SCOTTADITO RACK OF LAMB
MINATURE PEPERONATA, SIMPLE LAMB JUS
I was planning to skip the rack of lamb, but I decided to give it a fair chance. Obviously, I don’t eat lamb enough to know a good piece of meat, but this one seemed like a bad cut to me? It tasted overcooked. The texture was really chewy and a buttery flavor overpowered it.
PARMIGIANO OREO COOKIE
The Parmigiano Oreo Cookies looked and sounded so intriguing! Unfortunately, my end of the table never got to try them. 🙁 From what I remember, they were parmigiano cheese inside two cheese crisps.
SESAME CRUSTED TROUT
STRIPED BEETS, FRESH POBLANO PEPPER, KIWI INSALATA, RICE, ZENZERO VINEGAR REDUCTION
The Sesame Crusted Trout was truly outstanding! The texture was to die for and it added a strong sesame flavor to the trout. The beets and kiwi contributed interesting flavors to the dish as well. I was a huge fan of this entree!
ZUCCHINI NOODLES & RED ONIONS CONTORNO, ROASTED GARLIC RAGU, SEMOLINA CROUTONS
The Herbed Salmon was just so-so in my book. It was a nice piece of salmon, but nothing stood out about it. I suppose it was just sort of average. I really enjoyed the zucchini noodles and red onions, however!
CHOCOLATE BUDINO, GIANDUIA GELATO & TRUFFLE BACIO
Chocolate heaven! The chocolate budino sort of reminded me of a soft Reese’s peanut butter cup– not so much the flavor, but the consistency. Mmmm… nice and smooth. Inside the dark chocolate truffle was a chocolate-cinnamon filling. So good!
With dessert, the table was served a glass of champagne. I had just a sip because I was driving home!
The Bread Pudding
CHEF SIGNATURE RECIPE, SALTY CARAMEL SAUCE
The star of the evening was easily the bread pudding! I want to visit Spiga again for this dessert! (Although, Sonsie’s bread pudding rivals it!)
Iocco’s legendary bread pudding reminded me of my French Toast Souffle both with its soft, smooth texture and strong, but simple vanilla flavor. The bread was incredibly moist, almost cake-like on the inside and sweet and crusty on the outside (from being baked in Spiga’s brickoven). It was a truly amazing dessert!
If you’re looking for a unique, Tuscan villa-style restaurant outside of the city, Spiga is the place for you. All of the ingredients at Spiga are all produced in house– from the crusty breads and infused oils and vinegars to the handcut pasta. As mentioned, there were a couple of dishes that wouldn’t be first on my list, but the majority of the food tasted delicious, particularly bread pudding. It’s definitely worth a trip to Needham to try for yourself!