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Belly Up at Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar

Bellying up at the bar at Pinto Pincho Tapas Bar in Woburn, MA

My friend and I were heading into Boston for a show, and there’s a tapas restaurant close to her house that I’ve been waiting to try, Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar.  Loving all things Spanish, I was very excited to try somewhere new.  We went in around 6PM, and the restaurant was empty, which can sometime raise a red flag to me, because it makes me wonder “Why aren’t people eating here?” We were immediately greeted with a warm welcome by Pepe, who would come to be our tour guide through his restaurant which he runs with his Chef partner.  We bellied up to the 8-seat bar, in front of a glass display with fresh mussels, octopus, ‘langostinos’ (large prawns, heads included) and I knew I was in for an authentic Spanish dining experience.

Enjoying wine at Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar in Woburn, MAFirst things first. Drinks.  Pepe did highly recommend their house-made sangria, both red & white available.  Being a wine purist (ok, snob), we opted for the wine list and decided on a bottle of Sierra Cantabria Rosado from Rioja.  Light, dry, crisp with dried red fruit notes. The wine list has about 20 bottles to offer, heavy on the Jorge Ordoñez portfolio if you’re a fan.  I exclaimed to Pepe how reasonable the prices were and he simply replied “Yes, because I want to sell them, these are meant for people to enjoy.”  If you are a red wine lover, get The Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva 2005 from Rioja for only $48! I know that’s what I’m drinking for my next visit.

Moving onto the food menu, I asked my friend what she’s in the mood for, and she informs me she doesn’t eat seafood. SIGH. I guess I will just admire the langostinos through the glass.  In all seriousness though, Spanish food has such a broad range because of all the different regional cuisines that there really is something for everyone.  While looking over the menu, Pepe tells us how his partner makes their chorizo in house.  Sold. Tapa number one selected, Croquetas de Chorizo, fried creamy chorizo & manchego cheese croquettes.  The two croquettes were gone as soon as they arrived, and did not disappoint.   Pepe also offered us a small taste, or pintxo, of their Tortilla Española, a potato, egg and onion omelette. Every tapas restaurant has one, and Pintxo Pincho’s is delicious, traditional, spot on and made fresh daily.

Chuletitas de Cordero at Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar in Woburn, MA
Chuletitas de Cordero at Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar in Woburn, MA

Up next, Alcachofas Rellenas, stuffed artichokes served with a Romesco sauce, a traditional nut & red-pepper sauce. This order came with two pieces, as well.  It’s refreshing that Pintxo Pincho stays true to true tapas sizes.  Although the small portions can be disappointing to some American-sized palettes, these portions are perfect for sharing and trying as many tapas as possible.  The Chuletitas de Cordero, two lamb chops grilled with Tximitxurri (Chimichurri) sauce, a parsley, olive oil and garlic sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly, tender and full of flavor and their Tximitxurri sauce had the perfect amount of garlic. And just so you know, you eat these with your fingers, no utensils, and eat every part, including the bits of fat.  It’s ALL amazing.

So far, my non-seafood loving friend and I were impressed.  This was her first Spanish tapas experience and she was already a fan.  Having warmed her up, I asked if she would try one thing for me, Pulpo a la Gallega.  Being the good friend she is, she agreed, and it was perfect!  Tender octopus sliced and served with olive oil, flake salt and pimento de la vera (Spanish smoked Paprika).  It had the slightly gelatinous exterior which is characteristic of Galician octopus and I felt like I was in Spain again.  Needing just a little bit more, we finished with Patatas a la Bravas, fried crispy potatoes with a creamy spicy sauce.

To finish with the ultimate Spanish experience, we finished with dessert.  No, not churros, we drank cava, Spanish sparkling wine, from the porrón.  The porrón is a drinking vessel that requires a bit of hand-eye coordination, style & a sense of humor for when you ultimately spill some on your face and/or clothes.  From the authentic décor, including a beautifully hand-painted mural of Pablo Picasso’s famous Guernica on one wall, to the service, authentic cuisine and Pepe’s warm, gracious hospitality, Pintxo Pincho is a little piece of Spain that we are lucky to have on the North Shore.  I’m already planning my next Spanish feast.

Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar
385 Main Street Woburn, MA 01801
Hours: Mon – Sat 5 pm – 10 pm
Phone: 781-932-1379

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A Bocado Experience

Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas

Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas

This month we went to one of my favorite places in Worcester – Bocado. Spanish tapas and drinks need I say more?

I started the evening with my favorite.. Sangria. While they have numerous flavors to choose from I usually go with the traditional red sangria which is a little fruity but not too sweet on the palate. Very refreshing! Tonite we were not ordering from the menu but being presented with a sampling of their menu that we would share family style at each table.

BoardOur first offering was a board of dry cured spanish serrano ham (jamon), 6 month old manchego cheese served along with quince paste and sweet red peppers. I just had to sample it all together on warm baquette bread slices. The nutty but firm cheese combined with the slightly salty silky jamon, sweet quince paste and sweet red peppers was a very pleasant experience for my taste buds. I could have eaten this all night but knew we had alot more food to go.

Next we started our Tapas round. First up was tortilla espanola which is a traditional dish of thinly sliced layered potatoes cooked with eggs and onions that came with red pepper creme fraiche and side of olive tapenade. I remember ordering this in Spain a few years back and thinking I know what a tortilla is (spanish tortillas are not like the mexican tortillas we are used to in quesadillas).. but it is not what you expect as it looks more like a layered apple pie. But this time I knew what to expect It is served cold so it throws some people off… but very traditional. The tapenade was a great add to give it some additional flavor and I was so glad it was not too salty as sometimes tapaneda can be.

Our second tapas was Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas which was slow roasted chicken thighs cooked with orange, fennel, rosemary and olives. Normally I don’t eat dark meat but was willing to try it and I was not disappointed and actually pleasantly surprised. The chicken just fell off the bone with flavors of orange, fennel, rosemary and olives.. all being blended well together. Loved the warmness of the olives which mellowed the orange flavor as I am not one for overwhelming citrus flavors.

Our last tapas before our main dish was Calamares con ajo (fried calamari). Love these every time I go as they just melt in your mouth. Lightly fried with a slight lemony garlic flavor and only a slight taste of salt. You don’t really feel that you are eating fried food at this point especially when you take a bite with the orange horseradish cream sauce that was drizzled over them. My only wish would be to have a dipping bowl of the sauce versus just being drizzled on the calamari.

Just when we thought we could not eat anymore, they brought us the main dishes – 2 different types of Paella. Normally I just get the vegetarian paella so I was excited to try a different version. First I tried the Paella Clasica which had so much meat/seafood in it from chicken to calamari, shrimp, chorizo, mussels and little necks all nestled in a pan of slightly crispy saffron rice that was cooked in a seafood broth to wrap in all the flavors. I wish the paella was a little more crispy – that is usually what you expect to get – crispy rice at the bottom of the dish. Not that I could eat anymore but I did try the Paella de Carne which is very similar but varied in its ingredients – this one included chicken, chorizo, veal, duck confit, peppers and onions with a topping of spiced onion rings. Again it was all mixed with saffron rice but this time cooked in a beef broth. I know most would not complain about having too much meat/seafood in the dish but I would have liked to had more of a balance between the meats and the rice.

Finally out came dessert – Postres churros y chocolate. It may just be fried dough but these were sticks of light and fluffy fried dough that were lightly sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce. I am not a chocolate fan so I passed on that but the churros reminded me of when I got them at the local street vendor on a trip to Seville, Spain.

Overall,great meal and I should say experience since it was more than just a meal. Our meal was actually very similar to their Bocado Experience for 2/4 people so be sure to check it out when you go. I know I will be back again but this time to try some new tapas as they always have some interesting new tapas and wines to try. -MM