Bringing you the issues since 1986

View Online Print Edition


Two bar seats at the three Tomatoes Trattoria

December, 2009

It was a coolish Saturday evening in downtown Burlington, Vermont and we decided to try out Three Tomatoes Trattoria, right in the middle of the Church St. pedestrian mall.

This Italian restaurant is located in a basement quite a few stairs down from the street entrance, but you’d never know it once you reach the bottom.

The place is huge and on this Saturday at 7 pm it was packed with merry diners, families with children, dressy-looking couples out for a date, and at least one older couple from Montreal hoping for a table.

We were told there would be a half-hour wait at this, their busiest time, but we were invited not only to wait and drink at the bar but to eat there too! We chose the two end seats in front of all the wines and spirits and were greeted by the cocktail server who was also, we discovered, our food server. Another long food bar behind us was half filled with diners who also hadn’t reserved a table.

We both felt like sharing some comfort food, meaning it had to be meatless. We chose two pasta dishes, one with penne and one with linguini: Pesto Basilico, $13.95, sautéed broccoli, spinach, diced tomato, with basil – pine nut pesto and pecorino Romano with Linguini; and Spicy shrimp fra davolo, $17.95 – imported olives, garlic, white wine, spicy tomato basil sauce with penne. We decided to share a large Caesar ($7.95) which arrived immediately and which we thoroughly enjoyed. This may be the best Caesar salad I’ve tasted in a very long time with its hearts of romaine lettuce, very tangy with nice large pieces of anchovies, which we divvied up and two pieces of “Crisp Red Hen Bakery Garlic Crostini.” No bacon – we checked.

When the salad arrived, our server was ready to grate fresh romano cheese and grind fresh pepper onto our plate. The portion was generous. If I’d had my own, I would have had little room for the pastas, which were also generous. We each tried one dish for about five minutes and then switched dishes to try the other. Back and forth we went, relishing every morsel. The linguini was full of medium pieces of sautéed broccoli and spinach and the pine nut basil pesto gave the whole dish a zesty, slightly spicy flavor.

I was hard pressed to give it up to taste the shrimp penne, but once I started on the latter (or platter), I was smitten by the large shrimp, tails on, sitting among the penne covered in a spicy tomato sauce and sprinkled with big black olives.

Although we were quite full, Irwin insisted we share a dessert. We ordered cappuccinos and lemon mousse cake. ($6.95) Lemon was the flavor of the evening. I love all that is made of lemons and this was no exception. A fresh mousse atop lemon pound cake, it was the perfect ending to this Italian feast.

So next time you’re in Burlington, don’t let those stairs deter you. Once you’ve sampled the fare at Three Tomatoes, you’ll know why you may have to sit at the bar on a Saturday night. Or you can try making reservations at 1-802-660-9533.



Post a Comment