Nappi Meats and Groceries
370 Salem Street, Medford, MA 02155
Because this site focuses mostly on little-known restaurants, you would probably expect some oddball spots to be reviewed here and there, and you would indeed be right; A dining spot in an auto garage? Check. An eatery located in an old fishing lodge on a side street in the middle of nowhere? Check. A place where you have to check in with a security guard before proceeding to the restaurant? Check. But few, if any, are odder than a spot on Route 60 in Medford that has virtually no online presence, a rather vague and somewhat misleading name, and...no menu. That's right--no menu. But for all the quirks that Nappi Meats and Groceries has, it is one of the best Italian restaurants in the northern suburbs of Boston, and one that also happens to be very reasonably priced.
From the outside, it is difficult to tell exactly what Nappi Meats and Groceries is (and again, the name doesn't help much), though "sub shop" might be the first thing that comes to mind. And while it used to have the layout of a sub shop inside, it has been renovated to look more like a dine-in restaurant, though still with some hints to its former setup. The space is now dark and cozy with several tables set up in the room, and a counter that is front and center (where you can order takeout). Snacks, sodas, and bags of pasta that were formerly found along the walls of the eatery are now gone, as are the somewhat harsh lights and hard seats. One note: Nappi remains a BYO place, so if you want a bottle of wine with your meal, you will have to do the legwork on that.
So what is on the menu at Nappi? Oh, right, it doesn't actually have a menu, which might be frustrating to some, but to those who love home cooking, the setup here is perhaps more like dining at a family gathering than at your typical restaurant. Basically, you can approach things here in one of a few ways--order a meal and hope that they are able to make it that day, inquire as to what the server or owners like, or simply ask questions such as, "What kinds of sauces do you have this evening?" or "What's good for seafood today?" What you should know is that there are a few real highlights here that are generally available every day, such as an outstanding antipasto that comes with prosciutto, artichoke hearts, eggplant, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and more; pan-fried (and house-made) meatballs that are firm, slightly spicy, and come with an outstanding tomato sauce; a delicious haddock piccata that includes capers, lemon, and artichokes; a hearty and substantial chicken parmigiana that features a thin strip of breaded chicken, slightly chewy pasta, and their wonderful tomato sauce; an unusual eggplant rollatini dinner that features flat (not rolled!) strips of eggplant with a thin layer of ricotta inside; a plate of pillowy gnocchi that can be ordered with an earthy pesto; sweet house-made Italian sausage that seems to be a signature dish here; pieces of chicken mixed with tangy vinegar peppers and potatoes; veal saltimbocca marinated in wine, with the veal lined with prosciutto; and a seafood dish with calamari, mussels, and shrimp in red sauce. Dessert items tend to vary depending on the night, but include a zesty lemon cake and a rich chocolate cake. Two notes: As mentioned earlier, Nappi is BYO, and be aware that it is also cash-only, so remember to hit an ATM before coming here.
There is hidden, and then there is really hidden, and Nappi Meats and Groceries certainly falls into the latter category. If you want to impress your friends by taking them to an outstanding Italian restaurant that isn't just under the radar, but completely off the radar, this somewhat strange but appealing spot would definitely fit the bill.
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