Tangierino Moroccan Chop House and Tapas Bar is the answer to the question, “Are there any romantic restaurants in the Boston area?” The answer is yes, and it’s located at 83 Main St. in Charlestown.
Arriving for an early Sunday dinner during Restaurant Week, the dimly lit, ornately decorated restaurant exudes sensuality and exotic feelings. It is truly a picture postcard right out of Morocco. Beautifully draped fabrics hang in canopy-style over secluded booth areas, as a water fountain relaxingly flows and the dark ambers, burgundys and browns completely envelop your senses. Needless to say, I couldn’t get over encountering this type of extravagance, this over-the-top romance, here in Boston. I just couldn’t, because honestly I hadn’t seen it anywhere, until now.
Our waiter took our drink orders and brought over rose water to wash our hands as he explained it was a Moroccan tradition. Rose water, “mahward” in Arabic, translates literally to rose water and is heady and light. The scent of sweet, fresh roses lingers on your hands, near the table and in your nose well into the first course.
My first course was a refreshing and simple mixed greens salad with blood oranges, candied walnuts, mixed greens, cucumbers and an almost too-tart olive oil vinaigrette. The salad was a nice way to start an early dinner on a muggy, almost unbearable summer day.
For my entree, I ordered the Couscous Royale, served in a traditional tagine. A tagine resembles a casserole dish and is used in North African cooking, most commonly in Morocco of course. It consists of two pieces, a plate-like bottom and a cone-shaped lid which fits precisely over the bottom part to preserve hot food. The bottom plate is used as the serving dish as well. This tagine consisted of the best braised lamb shank I’ve had in quite some time, seasoned to Moroccan perfection and cooked so perfectly I didn’t need to use my knife once. It was served over a hearty seven vegetable couscous with tomatoes, chickpeas, cumin and other spices that added to the authentic taste, not to mention the atmosphere. It also came with Merguez, Moroccan spiced ground lamb wrapped in phyllo dough, smoked eggplant, and Kalamata olives, which was nothing short of delicious.
My dining partner ordered the Almond Crusted Trout served over Moroccan risotto with summer squash, baby green peas and caramelized onions. She was hesitant having never had a dish “almond-crusted” but I encouraged her to be courageous and try something new because anything nut-crusted is usually wonderful. she enjoyed the fresh fish and the risotto was just the right consistency and texture.
For dessert, we ordered tiramisu and a lemon meringue tart. The portion of tiramisu was tremendous and amazingly delicious, something you would expect to find in the North End. The lemon meringue tart’s meringue wasn’t all that stiff and was a bit too sweet for my liking. However, it complemented the cheek-sucking tartness of the lemon filling, a recurring theme here at Tangierino.
Overall the meal, the service and the incomparable decor left me in another world. I felt that I had taken a quick, inexpensive journey to Casablanca and was rewarded with quality Moroccan food. It was one of the most romantic restaurants I’ve ever been to.