Pasta Tasting Menu at No. 9 Park

My best friend recently moved back to Boston from San Francisco, and I knew she would be one of the few people who would splurge with me on a food based activity. It’s ok to spend almost $100 on a meal if it’s justified by a special occasion. So… Merry Christmas to us!
I’ve always wanted to try a Chef’s Tasting menu of some kind, and when I heard No. 9 Park had a Pasta Tasting menu I knew this would be perfect for us. What’s also perfect is that one of our oldest and best friends happens to be one of the sous chefs at No. 9, and each sous chef gets his/her turn at preparing these pasta dishes.
The descriptions below are details I received directly from the No. 9 kitchen, courtesy of my dear friend Chef Benno. The menu typically comes with 6 courses including the dessert. There is an option for an additional course (served as course 4), which we had the pleasure of being served
Don’t ask me to choose a favorite course, because it’s nearly impossible! However if I must narrow it down my top 3 are: Bigoli with crab, Cappellacci, and the prune-filled Gnocchi.
Octopus Salad: smoked ricotta, braised celery, bottarga
Spanish and baby octopus are braised in red wine, olive oil and aromatics. The baby are left whole and the Spanish are cut into segments. They are warmed to order in the braising liquid with some boiled fingerling potato coins and celery rib diamonds that have been peeled and braised in vegetable stock, white wine and lemon juice. This sits on top of whipped and smoked ricotta that has been seasoned with black pepper. Garnishing the plate are pickled cippolini onions, toasted pinenuts, and grated bottarga.
Bigoli di Nasturzio: peekytoe crab, tangerine butter, toasted breadcrumbs
No. 9’s standard pasta dough (flour, semolina, eggs) is seasoned with a puree of Nasturtium and rolled into bigoli. The pasta is tossed with peekytoe crab and a butter sauce seasoned with white wine and tangerine juice. Breadcrumbs toasted with the zest of the tangerine finish the plate.
Plaesentif di Viole Cappellacci: bacon confit, chantennay carrot, aged balsamic
No. 9’s standard pasta dough (flour, semolina, eggs) is rolled out and filled with plaesentif di viole, a cow’s milk cheese from northern Italy. Chantennay carrots are roasted along with bacon confit. A pan sauce is made with a little butter, jus and aged balsamic. The plate is topped with fried sage and pecorino.
Prune-Stuffed Gnocchi: foie gras, almonds, vin santo (supplemental course)
This is a No. 9 Park house signature dish. It’s a standard gnocchi dough filled with prunes cooked down in vin santo. The sauce is made from foie gras and butter. It’s topped with slivered almonds, diced prunes and seared foie gras.
Carnaroli Risotto: swiss chard, currant pecan vin, ricotta salata
Carnaroli rice is cooked risotto style and finished with braised and ground swiss chard as well as lemon whip. Topping the rice are pecans and currants dressed in EVOO and sherry vin. Ricotta Salata to finish.
Duet of Beef: beef sausage, hen of the woods mushroom, cocoa short rib raviolo 
Beef short ribs are braised in red wine, pulled apart and the meat is glazed with jus seasoned with cocoa. This is used as a filling for a raviolo that sits with roasted hen of the woods mushrooms and beef sausage seasoned with pork fat parsley, white onion, and chili. Quince mostarda finishes the plate: quince, white onion, white wine, sugar, dijon and whole grain mustard.
Apple Bread Pudding: honey crisp apples, calvados caramel, mascarpone glace
Bread pudding is made from apples cooked out in calvados, brioche, eggs, cream, sugar and cookie spices. It sits on a caramel sauce made with reduced calvados. Mascarpone glace finishes the plate.

Farmstead Table

Farmstead Table is a small farm-to-table restaurant, tucked away on Union Street in Newton Center. The menu is constantly evolving based on the local and seasonally available ingredients. Which means you can go back every couple of months and always have a variety a of new items to chose from 🙂 Although I hope it doesn’t change too frequently, because there were about 4 entrees on the menu that I desperately wanted to try.

The three I missed out on: Lentil and Sweet Potato Stuffed Cabbage (shiitakes, celery root puree, roasted carrots mutsu apple); Grilled Scottish Salmon (sweet potato puree, roasted cauliflower); and the Halibut special that came with butternut squash two ways (puree, roasted), and roasted brussel sprouts. I try not to repeat restaurants since there are so many I want to try, but I may be heading back to Farmstead Table sooner rather than later.

Thick slices of bread was served, one for each of us. It tasted like a subtle rye and was served with whipped softened butter.


White Bean Hummus
Luckily the hummus came out soon after the bread; it is served with only a few slices of carrots which is not nearly enough for the amount of hummus that was given. More crudités please! We fortunately spread some hummus on our bread, which was perfect.


Hadley Parsnip Soup: hazelnuts, clove, pomegranate reduction
I have trouble resisting soup, especially any kind of vegetable puree. This cup of parsnip soup was a great start to the meal; extremely smooth with hazelnuts for crunch and texture. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this one.


Braised Lamb Shank Ragù: hand-cut pappardelle, red wine mushrooms, parsnip cream, pecorino romano
I also have trouble resisting pasta. However, this was the perfect choice for me, because I wasn’t hungry enough to have hummus, soup, and a full entree. Luckily they offered a 1/2 portion of the lamb shank ragù. The $14 price was a little steep for the small appetizer size, but it was really good, so I don’t mind paying for a good quality meal. There was plenty of lamb and mushrooms in the dish, I just wish there were a few more noodles!


I forget exactly what was on the dessert menu, but I do recall seeing a line about S’mores that I tried to avoid looking directly at. If I read the full description I’m sure I would have forced myself to order and eat the entire thing. I scanned the rest and definitely saw at least 3 options that I would have had in a heartbeat, but I was honestly stuffed to the brim. Oh well, maybe next time!

The prices at Farmstead Table are moderate for Boston/Newton; all entrees were in the $20 range, with the Rib-Eye Steak taking the top spot at $29. The appetizers were a little pricer as apps go, $8-$14. I drank only water but my friends noticed that the wine was pricey (I think the least expensive choice was around $14). The service was great, our waiter was attentive, refilled our water, checked on us an appropriate amount of times. The interior is warm, cozy, and welcoming. And most importantly, we all absolutely licked our plates clean! I look forward to going back soon.

The Perfect Bite: fork full of pasta with lamb and a cut of mushroom!