My husband, baby, Natalie, and I popped up to Salem this past weekend for a little visit, which so happened to coincide with the season’s first big snowstorm! We arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and as none of us had eaten lunch, we were seriously hungry. After checking in to The Merchant, we strolled over to Bambolina, a nearby restaurant recommended by the innkeeper. Although we were the only party ordering, we were made to feel so welcome, and over the course of our meal the space filled up – clearly this spot is a local favorite!
We started with the shoshito peppers – blistered and tossed with preserved lemon, feta, and marcona almonds, they were savory and delicious. The preserved lemon was a revelation – such a concentrated lemon flavor without the sourness, and the perfect complement to the dish. Natalie and Dan shared the fennel and sausage pizza, a bubbly, toasty crust covered with house-made sausage, burrata, black olives, and tomatoes. They also helped me with my gluten-free Margherita – a satisfyingly chewy round topped with lots of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. I have an intolerance, and am always so appreciative of restaurants that have good gluten-free options. Making a pizza without magical, delicious gluten to bind the dough and let it rise is not easy!
The beverage menu had lots of interesting beers and wines, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic root beer (fun!). For dessert we shared the Eton Mess, a pile of whipped cream, basil-marinated strawberries, and meringue shards – so so good. It was light and indulgent at the same time.
The space is large and we were able to park the stroller next to the table while S slept – so relaxing! A long communal table, bar seating, and traditional tables make this a great spot for solo diners or large groups. If you are in Salem, I would definitely recommend a stop in at Bambolina!
Images 1,2, and 4 courtesy of Bambolina.