Five, born in the Grove, is growing up on the Hill. But its focus remains, reflecting the Italian heritage of the neighborhood and its owners, the Devoti family. Son Anthony dances lead in the kitchen, as he has for its lifetime. Five is roomier than it was, and seems quieter, even on a busy evening early in the week. The Art Deco paintings in the style of Tamara de Lempicka now hang on dark green walls, and the servers are attentive to the needs of guests, whether regulars or newcomers.
In the current economy, bread baskets are one place that restaurants often have often cut back. Not here. Extremely fresh foccacia arrived with seasoned olive oil, the combination particularly tasty for reasons we couldn’t quite put our finger on at first. Then we realized that there was just a little truffle oil brushed on the bread, providing the wow factor to kick things off.
A charcuterie platter showcased housemade prosciutto, tender and sweet, rather than deeply salty, and another, an unnamed and unrecognized piece of cured pig, was chunkier and saltier, and extremely tasty. Alongside was a small brick of pate, subtly seasoned and studded with what seemed to be hazelnuts. Even the pickle appeared homemade, not so tart and small as a French cornichon. Coarse mustard marked the plate, a small container of mixed olives, and perhaps best of all the selections, a cherry and shallot chutney that was absolutely irresistible. Eggplant soup, with a hint of celadon green in its color, sported a swirl of creme fraiche, but the main feature was the lovely flavor of the eggplant itself, which often is distant and elusive. A generous serving at a proper temperature, it brought considerable satisfaction.
We could have been happier with the grilled salmon. It arrived cooked to medium, which is not unreasonable, and it was of satisfactory quality. But the freshly cooked fish sat on a bed of timidly flavored, room-temperature tomato sauce, alongside some various green beans. Various, because some were crisp and others quite tender. On the other hand, the pork shop was rave-worthy. Faintly pink inside, a little less than an inch thick, it was moist, tender and utterly delicious, worth picking up to gnaw the last bits off the bone. It rode on a puree of crowder peas, something we don’t ever recall seeing in a restaurant that has a wine list. Crowders are related to black-eyed peas, and the puree was earthy and yet delicate. Some diced turnips hung around for the fun, as did a little napa cabbage, all homey-seeming vegetables gone upscale.
Maybe we’ve just had bad luck with desserts, but they’ve always seemed to come in second to the savory dishes here. The best we found this time was a sampler of sorbets, which included a very impressive cantaloupe that captured the melon’s flavor very well indeed, some nice tart plum and a blueberry that was pretty good. The chocolate sampler had been sold out, so the chef had subbed a fruit sampler. A blackberry panna cotta had the toughness that comes after gelatin has been sitting for more than a day or so, and lacked sufficient flavor, a blackberry-cinnamon ice cream that was mostly cinnamon and merely okay, and what was called a shortcake with peach preserves. The crumbly scone-like biscuit was unexciting, although the peach preserves perked things up considerably. Overall, the course lacked the excitement the meal had provided to that point.
The wine list is strong on Italian varieties, with many moderately priced choices that will be pleasant companions to the dinner selections.
All in all, the new location is a definite step up, the service kinks have been eliminated and Anthony Devoto is hitting his stride in the kitchen.
5100 Daggett Ave.
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Fair