Have you ever walked into a restaurant and immediately fallen in love?
Yes? Good. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I walked into Servia, on State Street in Boston, MA and fell hard.
Immediately upon entering I noticed the smell. It smelled amazing! From a combination of their house made pita to their muhammara spread being cooked, it all combined to make the entirety of the restaurant smell amazing, it literally made me go from hungry to ravenous within three steps.
Details are important when you go out for a night on the town and Servia has theirs perfected. Every nuance of the restaurant speaks to the care and thoughtfulness that went into its design. With tones of blue, silver and classic wood spread throughout the restaurant it’s what you think of when you hear the words Mediterranean restaurant. The restaurant combines modern Mediterranean esthetic with “old Boston” in the best way possible. The rustic brick walls are filled with artwork that harkens back to traveling across all of the states and countries that encompass the word Mediterranean. Building on the juxtaposition between old and new is the gorgeous bar, manned by Saul (more on him later), that is functional and allows for a full view of the dining area. A classic bar design but updated with modern touches that allow you to see every bottle and ingredient that goes into their incredible cocktails.
Speaking of the bar, we tried three different drinks while we visited. Each was totally unique and frankly amazing. We took suggestions from Saul, the bartender extraordinaire, who made recommendations based on our typical favorites. If you’re up for a little adventure I suggest doing this, Saul won’t steer you wrong.
Mrs. Spotlight had a Spanish Gin and tonic that she called “hands down the best she’d ever had’. I took a sip (or two) and I have to agree. Made with gin mare, tonic with dried juniper berry, basil, rosemary, thyme, lemon, orange, lime, this takes your normal gin and tonic and elevates it stratospheric levels. I started with the Marrakesh Express made from mezcal, pomegranate juice, harissa, rose water, aquafaba, and lemon. This blows away any mezcal drink I’d ever had before. Smokey, sweet, peppery, and salty this is a drink that defies your expectations. I finished with the Sultan of Swat (Derek, the GM is a Yankees fan, but we won’t hold that against him), made from vodka, orange liquor, pomegranate juice, lime juice with a mist of ouzo this is perfect for cold nights. Warm and sweet are the best descriptors for this drink. The slightly mist of ouzo makes this completely different. All three drinks get the Andy’s Spotlight two thumb up!
Now for the food! Everything is house made as much as possible, from the marinade on the olives to the buns on the sandwiches.
Mrs. Spotlight and I were lucky enough try a myriad of dishes, all of which were spectacular. Honestly, I’d never even heard of some of them, but I can safely say I’m a fan now!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the house made ancient grain pita. Totally unique, its pita but with a taste that is all its own. You have to try it for yourself to fully understand. The pita was served alongside a platter of house made olives, hummus and muhammara spread. 10’s all around but my favorite of these was the muhammara spread. I’d never had it before, and it blew me away. Slightly sweet, but slightly spicy at the same time and topped with crunchy pomegranate seeds this spread is a new favorite of mine. I’ve never seen it anywhere else and I doubt anywhere else could make it at this level.
Next came the Saksuka, an exquisite combination of sautéed eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives, almonds, pistachios, raisins that defied my expectations. These ingredients merge to form a dish that is light, but deceivingly filling. Each bite brings you an explosion of flavor. Chew once and you get the sweet from the raisins and the next chew you get the perfect saltiness from the olives and the crunch from the almonds and pistachios. Another dish I’d never had before but is now on my must haves.
I can’t think of one person who hasn’t at least tried felafel at some point in their life. I can guarantee that you’ve never had it quite the same way that Servia makes it. Dense and moist this is far, far different that any variation of felafel I’ve had previously. I still haven’t identified the extra ingredient that makes it so good, but I’m working on it. Add the scratch made tarator sauce that comes with it and you have a dish that makes you feel like you’re eating seaside in Cyprus.
I love meatballs, from Italian to Swedish, I’ve never run into one that I don’t like. The beef adana kefta are braised ground beef meatballs resting in spicy tomato sauce with a drizzle of garlic-yogurt over the top. These were no exception to my love for meatballs. The first thing that came out of my mouth after my first bite was “wow, these are better than mine”, and honestly, they are. These are distinctively tender, moist, and flavorful. It’s a combination of tangy tomato, light spice and sweet yogurt that makes these meatballs something completely different.
We ended the meal with Istanbul style grass fed hamburger. A tender, juicy house made patty topped with kashar cheese, red onion jam, pickles, lettuce, tomato and their exquisite house-made bun, this burger is exceptional. This isn’t a burger you grill in your backyard. This is a burger that takes that burger puts it in the corner and says, “let me show you how its done”. The onion jam and kashar cheese are so distinctive they make this something you’ve never had before.
Lastly came dessert. We had the Pasha Pillow, which is described as a modern twist on baklava. I like baklava, but its heavy and definitely something that I only eat on occasion. This on the other hand is light, airy and something I’d eat after every meal! A thinly crusted pillow of puff pastry filled with a pistachio cream. Sweet but only mildly so, which allows the taste of pistachios to come to the front of the flavor profile, giving it a taste that is unexpectedly decadent. Decadent without being overly rich and heavy is what makes this dessert perfect. I had a café latte to go with it and it matched perfectly. *Side note* Check out their coffee cups. From my nerdy perspective they are incredibly interesting.
As restaurant that has only been open for nine weeks at the time of writing I didn’t see any of the normal hiccups that you would expect. In fact, they operate like a restaurant that has been in business for years. Everything was smooth and refined. The staff, from the kitchen team to Chef Claudio Cavalleri, to Saul the bartender/ captain of awesome and the GM Derek make this restaurant what it is.
Servia absolutely earns the Andy’s Local Spotlight recommendation. I’ve already made plans to bring several friends to dinner there with me. I hope I run into you there. If you see me stop over and say hi!