Brunching might seem like more of a Springtime activity, but I've been doing a lot of it lately. This is absolutely not a complaint because I LOVE brunch. So when I had the chance to eat my favorite meal at one of my favorite new restaurants from the last year, I obviously jumped at it. Since debuting in late December of 2015, Spartina has been quietly churning out excellent, seasonal Italian food by Chef Stephen Kalt in a sophisticated but minimal Melrose space. When we went for dinner back in March, I absolutely loved the baked eggplant, pork meatballs, and burrata/uni ravioli, proving that Chef Kalt knows how to make tasty, satisfying dishes that are unique and creative. Luckily, brunch stood up to my already high expectations, offering rich, Italian takes on classic brunch dishes, as well as some more classic Italian lunch fare like pizza and paninis. Like dinner, the extensive dishes are meant for sharing, which we highly recommend as you'll get an opportunity to have bites of everything.
Of course, we started our meal with mimosas and bellinis: both classic and delicious brunch drinks. We then ordered the scrambled egg and sea urchin panini, an interesting and upscale brunch take on a little sandwich. The scrambled eggs and uni combination was, as you can imagine, delicious; the choice of white bread was definitely unexpected, but was actually quite light and fluffy. It was a surprisingly light and easy bite (with a punch of umami) to kick off the meal.
Definitely one of the highlights of the meal, the bolognese waffle is the perfect example of Kalt's elegant fusion of classic Italian flavors with American brunch dishes. The cornmeal waffles were a bit sweet and substantial enough to provide a hearty base for the meaty bolognese. With fried eggs on top, the whole thing was a gooey, bready, meaty experience from brunch heaven. I would come back anytime just for a bite of the bolognese waffle-- it was really that good.
For something surprisingly lighter, we opted for the Roasted Pears Pizza Bianca, which was just delicious. A classic white pizza, the taleggio and fontina cheeses paired really nicely with the sweet pears, while the thin crust was just crispy enough. The whole dish was immensely satisfying-- sweet, salty, cheesy-- yet executed delicately and versatile enough for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
Taking a break from carbs, we decided to go for the charred sweet potatoes, and I'm so glad we did. The sweet potatoes were very simply done, but really tasty nonetheless, demonstrating how, sometimes, less can be more. Tender but still boasting some bite, they were doused in a sweet brown butter and topped with crunchy pistachios, making them a satisfying meal on their own.
To finish off, we of course had to get something sweet! The iced lemon cake was surprisingly gluten free, but really moist and delicious on the inside with perfectly sweet icing on top. An addicting but fairly light dessert. We also got the raspberry filled bombolini, which was like a mini donut with a fruity filling. Another really tasty bite as well.
Overall, the brunch was one of the best that I've been to lately, offering the same kind of satisfying food grounded in classic Italian cuisine and local, seasonal flavors I experienced when I first came for dinner. I love that the brunch offerings differ from the standard menus being served all over the city, as Chef Kalt seemed to tailor brunch to fit his menu, and not the other way around. I can't wait to come back and try more; next time, I might even bring an army of hungry friends to check out the rest of the appetizing choices.