July's Can't-Miss Dish

By Ellen Bhang · 07/01/2019

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it.

On the plateBroccoli alla Grillia Caesar

Where to find it: On a gloriously warm evening in South Boston, the windows of Fox & the Knife are open wide. Gal pals in summery attire perch at high-tops, sipping Negronis and glasses of rosé. Couples at the bar tuck into plates of pasta as the after-work crowd streams in. Karen Akunowicz,Top Chef” alumna and winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 2018, owns this bustling enoteca with her spouse, LJ Johnson. Located across the street from the Broadway T stop, the restaurant is Akunowicz’s first solo venture after making her mark as executive chef at Myers + Chang in the South End. At her new spot, the chef draws inspiration from the year she cooked in Modena, Italy, but the dishes she’s making are unequivocally her own.

Notes on the nosh: Broccoli alla Grillia Caesar” appears on the menu as antipasti, but this plate of cruciferous goodness could be your entree. On the grill, the hearty green veg develops a healthy char before being roughly chopped. Cubes of sourdough bread sizzle in a hot pan of olive oil, garlic, and smoked paprika, then toast in the oven to a golden hue. Those crunchy croutons, still-crisp broccoli, and Parmigiano-Reggiano are all tossed with a creamy emulsion that will forever ruin you for ordinary Caesar salad. Akunowicz adds white miso and fermented fish sauce to the umami-rich dressing.

Sip alongside: You’ve got to love a wine list that describes a particular southern Italian white with words like “peat,” “brine,” and “peach rings,” as in the gummy candy. The 2016 pour, from the winery Agnanum, is called “Sabbia Vulcanica.” It’s crafted from falanghina grapes, grown in volcanic soil on the western edge of Naples, near the Tyrrhenian Sea. This wine’s assertive tang and pungency surprises at first, then stokes your appetite for something vegetal, savory, and full of crunch.

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