Northshore Magazine

January/February 2013

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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ing at the restaurant. ���Our wait staff knows that these are the steps that make service memorable,��� she says. ���We want to know people���s names, how they heard about us, and what their experience was like.��� Of course, all of this excellent service would be useless without great food, but as the James Beard invitation proves, Ceia is indeed making its customers very happy. Executive Chef Patrick Soucy, who joined the restaurant in early 2012, is passionate about every part of every dish he creates, from the hand-snipped baby salad greens he helped plant, to the house-made mustard that blooms for three weeks before serving, and to the best pan for searing pumpkin (cast iron, if you���re wondering). ���Being a European restaurant, [Ceia doesn���t] cut any corners,��� Soucy says. ���Whether or not the customer knows that, hopefully when they taste [our food], they understand.��� Soucy is out at local farms just about every day, planting, tasting, and getting his hands dirty as he works hard to source the best ingredients. What he aspires to do with those ingredients is to challenge diners, bringing them outside their comfort zones just a step at a time. As an example, Soucy points to one of the menu items introduced for fall��� Ricotta and Beef Lingua Ravioloni. While beef tongue, the star of the dish, is unfamiliar to many North Shore diners, this preparation is evocative of something they are very familiar with��� pot roast. The house-made ravioli, served on a potato pur��e that forms the sauce, with roasted local baby root vegetables and aged balsamico, is reminiscent of the best pot roast you���ve ever had. ���I love the way that I���m challenged to serve beef tongue in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and make it successful,��� Soucy says. ���It���s marketing. It���s psychology.��� It���s also where Soucy hopes American cuisine is headed. ���This is what American food should be,��� he says, adding. ���We are a new land���we don���t even know what we���re doing yet.��� Europe has had thousands of years to evolve its food culture, Soucy explains. ���In coastal New Pour house Ceia���s stylish bar. Skip the Chardonnay and Pass on the Pinot at ceia, the mission is to open patrons��� eyes not only to new types of cuisine, but also to a whole new world of wine. A t most restaurants these days, Pinot Noir is the most popular wine by the glass. Not so at Ceia, notes proprietor and wine director Nancy Batista-Caswell. In fact, that���s way down near the bottom of what patrons drink at her restaurant, which has been twice honored by Wine Spectator for its wine list. ���I wanted to provide Newburyport and the area with wines that people weren���t familiar with, wines that would become unique to the space,��� Batista-Caswell says. ���We spend time with our guests, selecting a glass most suitable for their palates.��� So instead of a buttery California Chardonnay, customers might be guided toward a Petite Arvine from Valle d���Aosta, a grape indigenous to Northern Italy packed with apricot and honeysuckle. Batista-Caswell credits her upbringing for her interest in and success with wine. Her father is an importer of Portuguese wines (and provides many of the gems on Ceia���s menu), and her grandfather used to make his own wine. These days, she says, the Wine Spectator awards have opened a lot of doors for the restaurant. ���Our reputation for quality and excellence has allowed Ceia to offer wines that many [restaurants] cannot [offer],��� she says, adding that this holiday season, Ceia is only one of two restaurants in all of New England pouring Henriot Rose Brut Champagne. With offerings like this, patrons are likely to be surprised by the wine-by-the-glass program, which includes many bottles unique to Ceia. ���Our wine-by-the-glass program isn���t normal,��� Batista-Caswell says. ���We have a lot of boutique pours that are not traditionally offered by the glass, at a price point that pairs well with our menu.��� It isn���t just the unique nature of her wine list, which is heavy on boutique vineyards of the Old World (Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain), that attracted the attention of Wine Spectator���it���s also the pricing. When it comes to markup, however, Batista-Caswell says it isn���t a set formula, but a flexible system. ���Sometimes, I don���t mark up the wine at all because I want people to experience it,��� she says. ���I want people to come to Ceia not just for food, but for wine.��� 158 NSJanFeb13_FE_Ceia.indd 158 11/19/12 10:39 AM

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