Who’s in Charge Jim Rogers is the owner-chef of Andiamo’s newest location in Chelmsford. Working in restaurants from the age of 13, he always wanted to have his own place. After an illustrious career in prominent restaurants, he opened his first Andiamo in Newburyport, garnering much attention from the media and foodies.
Rogers loves cooking and eating Italian food because of the amazing ingredients and the techniques that create strong bold flavors. He particularly loves to make pasta, cook pasta, and eat pasta and says that there is nothing more comforting than a great bowl of pasta!
“I want diners to know that I am a working chef-owner, and you cannot have anything better in a restaurant,” Rogers said. “I am here working to make everything just right, and the people around me see that and work to do the same. “
The Locale Andiamo is located in Chelmsford’s Center Village. The space had been vacant since the mall opened about a year ago, and as we approached the restaurant in the 7:30 p.m. setting sun, it still looked vacant. We tried the door and entered a mostly empty ante-room.
The primarily brown interior of the dining area is marked with sparks of color from the tables and liquor bottles at the bar. There’s an open kitchen and a stone-walled fireplace with see-through panels. The central bar with seven TVs featured sports on every screen. Sinatra tunes and ‘50s and ‘60s music pleasantly set the mood.
On the Menu Service was slow, despite the fact that the room was not crowded. The waitress asked us if we wanted sparkling or tap water. We opted for sparkling and were surprised to find out later that we were charged $6 for a bottle of Pelligrino.
The Antipasti Tasting ($14) featured soppressata, a little peppery but with good flavor and very pretty with pinkish circles of fat. The truffle honey dressing on chickpeas tasted quite nice, accented with a little vinegar from its Tuscan olive neighbor. The burrata, made daily, had a light, buttery taste. The chickpeas were nice and soft, and the olives were large, good, and salty, just the way we like them.
The Crispy Eggplant Stack ($10) was a three-layered breaded fried eggplant mini-tower sandwiched with burrata and layered with basil and roasted tomato. The first flavor was that of the sauce and followed by a deeper complexity of tastes. The eggplant was not the strongest flavor, and the burrata was almost flavorless in this dish. Although interesting, the dish was not to my taste, and I’ll pass on it in the future.
The Orecchiette ($10) pasta (meaning “little ears” in Italian) had black pepper kick to it, the heat building to the point of tongue numbing. Served in a large portion, it otherwise had a nice full taste, the tiny bits of sausage nestling in the “ears.” Although I thought the pepper taste tended toward the strong side, my husband found the heat refreshing.
The hit of the evening was the Ficchi Pizza ($14) with balsamic fig jam, fresh rosemary, house-made burrata, and prosciutto. It had a wonderful crust with just the right amount of soft and crunchy, a texture we had never experienced in a pizza before. It was a little light on the broccolini, which was finely chopped.
The daily gelato ($6) was superb: lovely little domes of blood orange, raspberry, and salted caramel, topped with a raspberry.
Andiamo, 18 Boston Road, Chelmsford, 978-710-7218, andiamo-restaurant.com.