Tag Archives: cheese sauce

Vito’s Tavern: Leave the Gun, Take the Nachos

13 Oct

We normally avoid the North End like overpriced, overtouristed area should be avoided, but also because even if we did manage to find Italian nachos, they would probably be terrible. After a mediocre experience at Anchovies and a downright disastrous attempt at making our own pizza-inspired ‘chos, we had little hope.  But hunger goes hand in hand with poor judgement, so we found ourselves at the semi-new Vito’s Tavern in the North End, to try their ‘Bruzzese Sausage nachos, with “the usual.”

  • Appearance: (8) Ooze is the name of the game here, as we immediately spot the double-team of cheese AND cheese sauce.  Red-white-green toppings were very appropriate, considering the neighborhood.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (7) Even without our most cheese-sauce-friendly correspondent in tow, we had good things to say about the cheese sauce. It was right on the border of homemade-or-not, enough so that we still aren’t sure if it was from a can or the kitchen.  The chips were also debatably made in-house.  Guacamole was fresh, heavy on the red onion, and the salsa was more of a pico of fresh veggies.  We enjoyed the Italian sausage, though larger pieces might have made a bigger impact on the palate.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (8) Vito’s employed a distribution tactic we had never seen before– a layer of black beans on the bottom of the plate, but nowhere else.  We found this a little odd until we considered that the beans elevated the chips enough to keep them from getting totally sodden in cheese sauce. Was this intentional?  Unknown, but it did work. As could be expected, the combination of cheese and queso sauce left practically no chip untouched.
  • Price:  (8) At $11, these provided an ample amount of heart-stopping goodness for two people.
  • Overall: 31/40.  These were more Italian-inspired than a direct translation, earning them a place in the Best of Boston rather than the Specialty Nacho category.  But who cares? They were pretty darn tasty.  We are curious to come back and try the vegetarian nachos, with roasted and sauteed veggies.
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Orleans: Idaho Nachos; or White Trash-os, Part Deux

9 Apr

We should have know what we were getting ourselves into when our waiter at Orleans (Davis Square) actually cautioned us that the Idaho Nachos came with an American cheese spread rather than traditional queso sauce. Usually we only expect puffer fish to come with a disclaimer, but apparently Orleans thinks these nachos are just as deadly. Probably because they have the nutritional information.

Awhile back, we invented the life-shortening sodium spree known as The White Trash-os. Using Fritos, hot dogs, pork & beans, and jarred queso sauce, we assassinated our arteries while bringing back those oh-so-pleasant memories of family trips to the Ozarks. Orleans’ “Idaho Nachos” might be the slightly higher class version of those (and we really mean only slightly): potato chips, soaked with “an American cheese spread,” and drizzled with bacon bits, tomatoes, and green onions.

  • Appearance: (8) Low-end never looked so haute cuisine!  Beautifully plated in a large bowl with colorful confetti of garnishes, these caught us off guard with their loveliness.
  • Quality of toppings: (3.5) We can’t legally give a score over 4 for any dish that has “an American cheese spread,” though since we were expecting it, the whole experience seemed marginally better. While we kind of like the understated quality of the sauce, it wasn’t strong enough to be the main feature of the dish and we really needed some other element to pump up the flavors and give us an experience other than salty. The bacon added a kick–a nice kick of carbon, as it was completely overcooked. All of that processed goodness left us fighting for the spare tomatoes and green onions on the plate. The real problem here, however, was the chips which were initially stale tasting and toward the end soggy and greasy. Not a good progression!
  • Distribution of toppings: (6) Cheese sauce has notoriously good distribution, starting out on the top layer and slowly soaking its way to the bottom to fully coat everything. But even that couldn’t help the sad lack of toppings or central focus.
  • Price: (9) Ah, Somerville…Leave the Boston/Cambridge area, and suddenly, a plate of nachos costs $8. What a cheesy, greasy steal!
  • Overall: 26.5/40

We appreciate a restaurant that will take a risk on a specialty nacho, but we probably won’t order these again. Idaho Nachos or Irish Nachos are a great idea, but this particular plate just wasn’t inspired. Give us one more strong ingredient that compliments the cheese sauce rather than puts it front-and-center, and we’ll talk again.

Jalapenos: Our House South of the Border

21 Mar

Do you remember a scant 29 months ago when we questioned the strange allure of Our House West (in case you don’t, you can get nostalgic here and here)? That “den of vice, iniquity, and many a lost Tuesday night” kept us coming back week after week despite its many, often very apparent, flaws. Sure, the nachos weren’t that good, but they had board games and curly fries. It was like college, but sexier.

Reader, in recent months you may have noticed a painful cry rushing away from the dingy streets of Allston. Have you paused to listen to that sad moan hanging in the wind? Have you heard it whisper, “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuddddde…..I looooooovvvvveeee yooooooooouuuuu” and then vomit? Well, that’s just the ghosts of the recently deceased Our House West fleeing that immortalized basement to make room for the bright and beautifully whitewashed Jalepenos. Ditching our mourning shrouds and bolstering our spirits with thoughts of Mexican food, we headed back down that well trod road to Our House–I mean Jalapenos.

  • Appearance: (6) Segregation was ruled unconstitutional years ago, but Jalapenos missed that.  One half entirely cheese and veggies, the other split between pico and a torrent of jalapeno peppers?  It didn’t make a lot of sense to us. Also, the cheese sauce had a very suspiciously too-orange color…
  • Quality of Ingredients: (7) The homemade chips here are good, and while the salsa is more like pico de gallo, it was fresh and bright tasting.  The veggies were large, well-seasoned chunks of roasted zucchini, summer squash and eggplant.  The cheese sauce was…cheese sauce.  We had been hoping for something along the lines of Border’s queso dip, but this unfortunately had more in common with Velveeta.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (6) Does anyone really need that many jalapenos? Really?  We scraped them off and they filled a whole appetizer plate.  The cheese sauce got so cold that it formed a skin and didn’t properly coat the chips.
  • Price: (7) We’re pretty sure these were in the $10 range–so average, it’s not worth discussing.
  • Overall: (26/40) Jalepenos may have upgraded the decor, but sadly not the nachos. Tying with the Our House West re-review, we’re unsure why the cheese sauce on the nachos was different from the queso dip on the menu and why they found it necessary to douse the whole plate in jalepenos. Was it an edible homage to their name???? Genius!

Saying goodbye to Our House West was hard, but it’s nice to see the space growing up with us. And no matter what, we still have our memories–or rather, hazy drunken recollections of questionable decisions gone by.