Bambolina Brings A Fresh Look To Italian Dining To Salem With the Hottest Pizza in Town at 925 Degrees
By The BaldOne
A few months back while walking across Derby Street I noticed that the old Salem Wax Museum gift shop was being demolished. Seeing that the door was open, and being as bold as brass I just stepped on in and had a look.
Much to my surprise the space had been leased out to a couple of guys who were planning on bringing their take on Neapolitan cuisine to Salem. Included in these plans was some sort of super-heating oven that would cook a pizza in 90 seconds.
Over the next few months a few visits were made to see how things were going and photos were posted on the Salem Food Digest Facebook page to keep the dining public apprised.
Yesterday, after being open for a couple of months was their Grand Opening and ribbon cutting for Bambolina. Dignitaries and local celebrities attended, but the most important people in the room were some construction guys, hard hats in hand who were looking for some lunch.
A few weeks back Bambolina played host to six Salem Food Digest operatives who sampled just about everything on the menu. We finished sated, and very happy.
Gathered around the long high top in the middle of the floor the six of us fortified ourselves with ice water and a few glasses of wine. Tim, the owner chatted amiably and prepared us for each course as it came out.
The first shared starter to hit the table was the Zucchini Ceviche with lemon dressing, fresh herbs, and a ricotta salata. It was accompanied by the Blistered Shoshito Peppers with macrona almonds, goat cheese, lemon, and sea salt. A third dish, Fire Roasted Castelvetrano Olives rounded out the trio.
Everything was fresh and attractively plated. The olives were fresh with full slices of lemon and bits of roasted garlic. They were flavorful and and firm to the bite. The little ceramic bucket on the plate in which to place to olive pits was a nice touch. Everyone enjoyed the Ceviche. The plate was beautifully done and a sharp accent was added by the lemon dressing which was rounded off well by the ricotta. Shoshito peppers are something that are starting to appear in north shore restaurants, but this point Bambolina is setting a high Salem bar.
Next to test our palates was the Shaved Speck, house packed vegetables, and olive oil grilled bread paired with the Tuna Carpaccio in caper dressing with green beans, olive dust, and focaccia crisp.
We really enjoyed the Shaved Speck. Its vegetables were pickled nicely with a good bite, but it was the Tuna Carpaccio that dominated this round. It did not stay plated for very long. In a country raised on tuna in a can, it is really a wonderful thing to see it elevated to this level. Fresh, full of omega fats, flavorful, and pleasing to the eye. This dish has it all.
Tim and his kitchen decided to send a couple of entrees out next.
Slow Cooked Short Ribswith whipped polenta, wilted spinach, and grana padano was brought to us along with the Pork Belly which was plated with roasted peaches, braised traviso, cracklings, and a pearl onion vinaigrette.
Short Ribs are a staple in many American style eateries and these would hold up well against any of them. They came apart easily and I found that the pairing with the grana padano which is a hard and grainy cheese worked well.
But now let me tell you about the pork belly.
As a kid the only time I ever saw pork fat was when my mother made chowder or baked beans. Nowadays it has become a speciality and it is not always done right. You want to be crispy on the outside but not dry. This pork belly was perfection, crispy and juicy at once. The traviso was braised perfectly so that it still had some bitterness and a little bit of spice. Some of the ladies were worried about the fat content but the plate was left empty.
We finished up with what is without a doubt the most unique pizza in Salem. The custom made oven cooks at 925 degrees and their 11-inch pizza pies are fully cooked within 90 seconds.
We first had the Soppressata which is crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella, oregano, and pecorino. Next for us was the Forest Mushroom with smoked mozzarella, wood fired mushrooms, organic kale, and truffle oil. Finishing up was the Artichoke and Kale. This entry has creamed goat cheese, kale, pesto, baby globe artichokes, and hot peppers.
The deserts we were served rate an article all by themselves.
Fresh, creative ingredients, a hand made chewy and blistered dough cooked at a high temperature is what I call a winning formula.
Visit Bambolina soon. Good food, good prices, a great atmosphere, and owners and staff who want to do it right are what they offer.
288 Derby St, Salem, MA