Needham: Spiga Ristorante Italiano

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Dilusha De Tissera

bread with sandwiches Spiga's in Needham is Italian. Think carbs. Think ear, as in spike of corn or wheat, which is what Spiga means in Italian. Chef Robert DeSimone comes via the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, the Italian Culinary Institute, Madonnina del Pescatore, Bricco in the North End and Aquitaine. (There is a man with DeSimone on the website whose name is not given. Is it general manager Jose Flores?) In September it's warm enough for the patio so we do. It's quiet off Newton Street and crazy on. Bread comes along with an ambitious lunch menu that has whatever you want. Really.

Dilusha chooses the panini Milanese (below): chicken that's breaded, with tomato and mozzarella. It's hearty, with faintly spiced chicken grilled right, tomatoes that may be from the patio garden, and salad with vinaigrette. Can salad counter the carb content even a little? We/I learn to ask for dressing on the side. We/I find sometimes there can be a generous pour of vinegar or garlic. Our server, Michael, who says he is usually on dinner, explains it all: there's a new sous chef. Since this is our first time, okay then.

summer salad Lunch outside is seductive; days are shorter and cooler and we no longer need an umbrella. We're catching up after two months of many visitors, hers, and a West Coast trip, mine. No one objects if we take a longer lunch on Friday? Old boys at the next table are loud, very loud, as if to say they are important. Or showing off? Maybe but more likely not. Just loud. The patio is fine for dining and less for the sharing of secrets. As it turns out, we have no secrets. But we hear lots. Must we?

chicken The purist is on a meatball spree and it's a good day for meatballs. Here is a polpette panini (below): homemade meatballs, I should say so, with marinara. Am I the only one who doesn't know polpette means meatballs and must a menu know more? As I order I wonder how meatballs are going to fit in this panini? I wonder, but only to myself. I am expecting the usual sandwich that's impossible to get a mouth around. This is not that. Meatballs are right in the panini. How they got in is they are smooshed. Sadly, the bread is nearly as thick as the meat. Bread sandwiches, um? Panini works for their tuna, which is flat; vegetarian, also flat; caprese with mozzarella; prosciutto; and then there are the meatballs, which are very flat. I don't know but I'm not saying. There's salad and a place for dressing is on the side.

meatballs? The thing is, new kitchen people and all, we wanted to go back. We have run out of daylight and weather. It deserves a try for pizza, antipasti including calamari, caprese, lobster, carpaccio, tuna and Caesar. Main meals: pesto, tagliatelle, eggplant, sausage, carbonara and risotto. And that's just lunch. Dinner awaits with wine and song. At the end of lunch, Michael asks if it's our first time and we say it is. He invites us to make a reservation for dinner.

Spiga has its own parking. These feet were photographed by me in their lot. (They're enough off Newton Street your GPS lady may stutter.) In LA, what I saw everywhere is not feet, but Uggs. Even in summer. Here it's summer with not an Ugg in sight. Even in the suburbs, bring your A game feet to lunch.


Spiga Ristorante Italiano
18 Highland Circle (off Newton St)
Needham, MA 02494
781. 449. 5600

© November 1, 2016 Dilusha is a Cambridge marketing guru and photographer. She wrote the Let's Eat tag line. Kitty is a Boston writer. See more of their adventures at Corporate Edge and follow Dilusha on Twitter and Kitty on Twitter
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