68 Pearl St., Burlington 864-6651
The building at 68 Pearl Street looks much as it did in 1941. Bove's Venetian cityscape mural brings diners back to WWII-era ideas of what makes a restaurant worth visiting. It extends to the menu, the drinks — and the prices.
Few things still exist in the world quite like the time capsule that is the Bove's cocktail menu. Like a Brandy Alexander? Meet Greg Alexander, her gin-flavored dad. There is also a John Collins, a rum-and-vodka drink to keep Tom company. And they all cost $3.75.
The portions are small, but the liquor is strong. My choice, the relatively safe-sounding Stinger, is composed of brandy and white crème de menthe, and it packed a fire along with a refreshing minty flavor.
Luckily, there was plenty of bread to soak it up. The fluffy, homemade white bread originated when people thought Wonder Bread was healthy.
And before our entrées, there was still the matter of the small antipasto salad to tackle. Though I was tempted to order the $1.65 "lettuce with dressing," the tangy twigs of salami and creamy Provolone proved irresistible.
The towering pile of veggies looked impossible to dress properly, but from base to tip, a red-wine-vinegar and oil dressing added flavor. The secret: A bowl filled with the stuff, almost like salad dressing soup. Sounds weird, but it works like a marvel, especially on the thick slabs of beefsteak tomato and iceberg lettuce.
After revealing that the famous lasagna was sold out, our server, who seemed overwhelmed but was helpful when she finally appeared, recommended pork chops over the veal cutlet (she admitted the veal comes to the restaurant frozen). She sang the praises of the quality of the fresh pig flesh, and she was right.
Broiled to a sweet caramel, the meat was still juicy inside. Served bone-in, the crispy chops tasted exactly as I imagine they did in 1941, when men were men and a broiled pork chop was a broiled pork chop. No frou-frou sauces or garnishes, just hearty meat with a side of spaghetti.
I got mine with basil sauce, which, it turned out, was $2.45 more. It was partly my fault for not anticipating the additional cost, but I wish our server had noted this when I ordered. I couldn't even taste the added basil.
The menu recommended that we try the Alfredo sauce with grilled chicken Parmesan. Whatever you say, Bove's.
I thought the cheese-on-cheese thing might be overkill, but the sauce was surprisingly light, with minimal cheese taste. It was more like a lightly creamy, pepper-dotted sauce my mother might have made at home.
The layer of gooey mozzarella on top of the chicken added some fun texture and a hint of moisture to the somewhat dry chicken, though not much taste.
Our server informed us that the restaurant was sold out of chocolate cake, leaving rum cake the only option. The moist dessert, apparently cut from a bundt-shaped pan, was suitably old-fashioned.
However, my first bite ran through my tongue like an electric shock of sweetness. Too much for me, but my dining companion thought it was just right, especially with a bit of whipped cream to tone it down.
Bove's may not be at the top of my list for a gourmet meal, but when I'm in the mood for a trip in the culinary time machine, there's simply nothing like it in Burlington.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.