Neighborhood Kitchens

A visit to Medford and Bistro 5

By Margarita Martinez

Most people don't think of Medford as being a culinary destination, but that just adds to the hidden gem appeal of Medford businesses. There is a Modern Pastry location, so those in Medford do not have to endure the North End crowds in order to get great cannoli. If you live in New England and cook Japanese food, then you probably know about Ebisuya Japanese Market, which is a great place to get Japanese ingredients and imports, such as Japanese candy and magazines.

Chef Vittorio Ettore at Bistro 5
 (Patricia Alvarado Núñez/WGBH)
And there is Bistro 5, an Italian restaurant owned by Chef Vittorio Ettore. Right off of the West Medford stop on the Lowell Line, this restaurant truly feels like stepping into another place and time. The lush gold and red colors and fabrics create a very moody and intimate experience perfect for enjoying the food of Tuscany. The ambience and food make you feel a bit like you're at Carnival, but without the crowds, floats, and parties.

Martinez and Vittorio Ettore
 (Patricia Alvarado Núñez/WGBH)
Like most Americans, I love Italian food. When I speak to people about Neighborhood Kitchens and ask for restaurant suggestions for our show, the most recommended type of cuisine is Italian. I prepare Italian food often, grow lots of basil and tomatoes, and keep lots of good olive oil, pasta, garlic, and vinegar on hand to quickly prepare delicious Italian-style meals - imagine my excitement at traveling to West Medford to learn how to cook Tuscan food with Chef Ettore!

Cantucci at Bistro 5
 (Patricia Alvarado Núñez/WGBH)
I loved his tips for making risotto and biscotti. These are items that I make at home, but I learned about the heritage of these dishes and how to make them better from Chef Ettore. For instance, while I have made biscotti, at Bistro 5 I learned how to made cantucci, a drier form of biscotti enjoyed in Tuscany. I am also used to enjoying my biscotti with espresso, but this time I enjoyed it as a lovely dessert by dipping it in a sweet glass of vin santo.

Chef Ettore, a chef with a joyful passion for life and food, truly knows how to include people in the process of cooking great cuisine. Along with Bistro 5, Chef Ettore owns A Tavola in Winchester just north of West Medford. In Winchester, Chef Ettore runs a “Seed to Plate” program at Ambrose Elementary School. He has a garden at the Sandborn House Historical and Cultural Center where he teaches 4th and 5th

Seed to Plate Program
 (Patricia Alvarado Núñez/WGBH)
grade students how to plant, harvest, cook with, and compost ingredients. The program culminates with a meal prepared by Chef Ettore and the students and shared with the teachers, parents, and students using ingredients grown throughout the year. It is obvious that Chef Ettore wants to pass on to the younger generation a passion for food, from eating it to growing and sourcing it, just as his family and community did for him while growing up in Tuscany. Those of us who participate in his “Seed to Plate” program and visit his restaurants are reaping the rewards.

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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44

About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
click on the map to explore

Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi


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