Marliave in Boston’s Downtown Crossing

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Prosciutto-wrapped rabbit with roasted sausage and gorgonzola and caramelized onion polenta

Every once in a while, my dear friend Erica and I like to have a fancy dinner out. You know what I’m talking about: White tablecloths, diners don their finer attire (i.e. no jeans and hats), and there’s a dim glow to the dining room with romantic mood lighting.

So during one of these fancy-dinner moods, we decided to try Marliave in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston. What immediately struck me about the restaurant was it’s two very different dining spaces. Downstairs featured high wooden booths reminiscent of restaurants from way back when, and included the restaurant’s bar. It wasn’t pretentious or showy. It was just simple and a fun area to hang out if you were waiting for your table. We were led upstairs, which was the main dining area, and a bit fancier than what we encountered downstairs. If you’re lucky enough to be seated at one of the tables around the perimeter of the room, you can take advantage of the window-lined dining room–you have a beautiful view below into the streets of Downtown Boston.

Mac and cheese
Mac and cheese

After ordering our fancy glasses of wine, Erica and I dove right into the menu. We decided to start with the macaroni and cheese (house-cut ziti, black truffle, cream, and farmhouse cheeses). I know what you’re thinking: Mac and cheese at a fancy restaurant? Well, don’t judge. It was cheesy, creamy, and everything a mac and cheese should be. I don’t care what type of place we were dining at–it was good and that’s all that mattered.

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Steak frites with house-cut fries, au jus, and gorgonzola butter

Then it was on to the main event. Erica went with her normal go-to dish, the traditional steak frites (grilled flat-iron steak, house-cut fries, au jus, and gorgonzola butter). I ordered the rabbit, which was a prosciutto-wrapped tenderloin, with roasted sausage and gorgonzola and caramelized onion polenta. I had a small (perfect) bite of Erica’s steak frites, and it was divine. I’ve tried many of Erica’s steak frites during all of our culinary adventures over the years, and this one definitely continues to stick out in my mind. My rabbit was unexpectedly lovely. I truly love rabbit, and this dish didn’t disappoint. The meat was tender, the prosciutto provided a great saltiness, the sausage was the perfect level of spiciness, and that polenta was creamy and cheesy and I would order an entire bowl of it to eat like soup if I was able.

House-churned vanilla bean ice cream
House-churned vanilla bean ice cream

Although I was stuffed, we decided to split a scoop of the house-churned vanilla bean ice cream. I think I’ve been clear about my love of ice cream. And this scoop of ice cream was a delightful end to the meal.

I’ve been back to Marliave a few times since that first trek there with Erica, so it’s safe to say I highly recommend a visit. If you find yourself in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston, it’s the perfect place to go if you’re in a fancier mood (upstairs), or just want a great place to hang out and chill by the bar (downstairs).

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