Terra (Eataly, Boston)

Our (with SO and spring onion) first visit to Terra on Saturday for dinner. The entrance is tucked at the back of Eataly, between the cheese and wine. A sweeping staircase is guarded by a hostess, but once we were approved to ascend we also had to check in on top (there is also an elevator that has two buttons, marked “2” and “R”, R presumably for Restaurant). We dined early, with light still streaming in through the glass roof. As others have noted, the room is a bit crowded, especially so the round tables. Noise levels were a bit loud but not harsh, despite somewhat unsightly sound-absorbing cinderblock along one wall, decorated with eclectic tchochkes meant to evoke the land. We asked for and were moved to a neighboring wooden banquette that was a bit less crowded. Water service was provided immediately, but became a bit tedious over the course of dinner as over-eager waiters refilled our glasses constantly - a couple of times pouring still H2O into our sparkling water. They’ve certainly been trained to spot water glasses that are less than full, but not to “read” a table - e.g. are they drinking sparkling water?

A serviceable, fresh bread (but a bit dense for our tastes) accompanied excellent olive oil. The fun began with a course of bruschetti and grilled oysters. The Nduja was a revelation, smokey, meaty, and luscious. An excellent burrata (unsure if it was local or the import from Puglia they sell downstairs) was served at just the proper temperature, creamy in the extreme and drizzled with a bit of that excellent olive oil. The grilled Island Creek oysters (we downed two orders) were lightly and simply grilled, just a bit of lemon, olive oil, and herbs. (That’s one to add to our backyard repertoire).

Next course we shared two salads, the grilled gem lettuce and beets with straciatella. Both were superb, the gem every so lightly charred on the edges but not wilted. The bread came in handy for scooping up the last bits ouf excellent dressings on both salads.

For mains we shared the grilled sirloin and whole orata. The sirloin was perfectly cooked,the orata tasty but bordered on the dry side. A drizzle of the grilled lemon helped. The fried potatoes were crispy and not greasy in the slightest, a reflection of the frying skills at Babbo as well. Skewers (speidini) of trumpet mushrooms were fabulous. In hind site we should have also ordered the grilled carrots that others have praised.

Deserts: a single scoop of vanilla gelato for spring onion, the rhubarb bombolini and the “panzanella” shared with my SO. Others have noted the faint presence of rhubarb (you could taste the essence but certainly no pieces). The panzanella was dominated by marinated orange segments with a smattering of syrup-laden croutons - I enjoyed it but my SO found it a bit cloying.

We didn’t try any pastas (we had plenty of food), but saw some of the dishes passing by that whetted our appetite for a return visit.

The beverage menu included three interesting barrel-aged drafts. I was tempted but decided to try one of the vermouths from the extensive list, as did my SO. Both were deliciously savory - we ordered them on the rocks with a twist, but found that a splash of sparkling water turned them even more refreshing. After Eric Asimov’s pean to vermouth in the NY Times last week we concluded we need to stock a few interesting bottles at home. A complex Soave by the glass paired beautifully with the orata.

One gets the sense from menus at Batali’s restaurants that he wants to share his passion for Italy and expand your horizons. We sense a generosity of spirit. Despite complaints elsewhere about high tariffs, the three of us dined well for a very reasonable sum.

We’ll be back for a pasta night. And to explore the beverage list a bit more.

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Great report, and very helpful. I walked through Eataly yesterday and wondered if the vibe upstairs was as chaotic as the main marketplace.

I was similarly wowed by the bruschetti (we ordered the exact same ones) and skewers. Glad to see they’re consistent on that front!

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Nice that you can make OT reservations - and don’t have a crush of shoppers wandering around you.

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Back to Terra to try out their newish outdoor dining terrace. Distancing and hygiene protocols were all very proper. The terrace suffers from the same buffeting that the Pru Center shops suffered from years ago before they enclosed the promenade. Sitting in the sun it was just bearable, but once the sun disappeared behind buildings it was too much and we retreated inside.

A charcuterie board had stellar ingredients, especially good Parmigiano and prosciutto. Grilled oyster mushroom were off the charts, simply grilled with EVOO garlic salt and pepper. Grilled veggies on a skewer were serviceable but uninspiring, as was a skewer of swordfish chunks and shrimp. Arancini faired much better, a terrific fry job and light, not dense interior. A green tomato and zucchini pasta was tasty but past al dente.

Wine selection by the glass (still all Italian) is deep and interesting.

We didn’t have a water refilling our water glasses ever 60 seconds this time, but the service erred this time toward inattentive - in spots and pacing was slow.

Given the price point Terra shouldn’t be missing on so many cylinders. Not bad, but we’re in no rush to return. Makes us miss Babbo.

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