If you’ve been in the Boston/Cambridge area and sought after a plate of really, really delicious pasta, chances are, you’ve heard of Giulia, a critically acclaimed Italian restaurant located on Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter Squares.
Since opening its doors in 2013, their reputation grew so much so that you have to make a reservation weeks – even months – in advance to cozy up in one of their select tables. People seemed willing to wait any length of time or pay any sum of money to spend an evening in Giulia. Is this place really worth the hype? I had to find out for myself.
With a fellow food-loving friend, I made a reservation two months in advance, and when G-day rolled around, I donned my loosest fitting pants, scraped together all of the money that I had, and marched over to Giulia to quell the rumbling rumors once and for all.
TL;DR? I would gladly wait two more months if I could relive the two magical hours I spent at Giulia that night.
The start of the evening looked something like this: sweaty palms. Elevated heart rate. Me guzzling water and absolutely paralyzed with indecision. Choosing one carefully described dish over the other felt wrong.
We decided to go all out, choosing one item from the sfizzi (meaning “whim” or “treat”), antipasti (appetizers), pasta, and meat & fish sections.
The first course, our “treat” was just as delightful as the word sfizzi implied it would be. We dived into the warm semolina cakes topped with marrow squash and walnut sauce that were almost too cute eat. Almost. The cake itself was tender and fluffy; something like a delicate version of cornbread. The slaw and sauce on top added a pleasant, mildly nutty flavor to the cakes.
A few minutes later, we welcomed a plate of buffalo milk burrata with house cured Berkshire ham, grilled treviso, fresh apple and bruschetta. This was my first experience with burrata. I expected it to more or less resemble mozzarella, but I quickly learned that the burrata was a much softer, creamier cheese and that it paired well with all the accompanying sweet and savory sides.
Next came what I consider to be the highlight of the evening, the shining star, la grande bellezza. When we asked for recommendations from our helpful waiter, he immediately suggested Giulia’s pappardelle with wild boar, black trumpet, juniper, and parmigiano, informing us that this was the restaurant’s signature dish.
A myriad of professional and amateur reviews online hailed this handmade pasta dish as one of the best in Boston. The praise wasn’t for naught. The eggy, al-dente pasta melded gorgeously with the tender meat and the dish was nothing less than perfection.
How do you follow that? With the mouth-watering grilled bone-in beef rib eye with lemon, sea salt and salsa verde, of course. Like the other dishes we tried, it was unbelievable. Medium-rare, juicy, and smothered with a sauce that cut through the richness of the beef.
The night was getting late but we refused to leave until we had tried not one, but two of their desserts. We first tucked into a smooth chocolate terrine topped with vanilla gelato, caramel, and fresh berries. Creamy, fresh, and sweet, I fell deeper in love with every bite.
We also tried Giulia’s rendition of the affogato, which was a scoop of hazelnut gelato dusted with chocolate shortbread and eaten with espresso spiked with Amaro Montenegró. The bitter coffee and the creamy gelato together was the ultimate gastronomic yin and yang.
Perfection. If I had to describe my time at Giulia with one word, it would be perfection. Whether I’m in class or in another restaurant, I will no doubt find my thoughts drifting towards the amazing plate of wild boar pasta or bittersweet affogato. Was Giulia worth the wait? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.