Bar Siena exceeds expectations


Clare Lanscioni, staff writer

As I stepped foot into Bar Siena, I was expecting an experience similar to the overrated Hampton Social, but I was shockingly surprised. Located at Old Orchard Mall, Bar Siena has a welcoming, open space layout that welcomes all to enjoy a delicious meal. Although expensive, Bar Siena  guarantees a great night out with friends or an idea for a special occasion. 

          The first appetizer I sampled, grilled octopus was highly recommended by my waiter who described it as being incredibly tender. I usually shy away from ordering octopus as it often ends up being over cooked and rubbery. However, the waiter was correct as it was cooked to perfection. The celery chimichurri added a cohesive element as the octopus was braised and then plated with it. The small amount of aged balsamic added a slight sweet tone with the herbaceous chimichurri to create a well balanced flavor. The potatoes mixed well with the sauces, but the dish could’ve gone without it as the octopus was the highlight.  

          Next was the burrata, a cheese that has the texture of mozzarella on the outside with a soft cheese inside, which was paired with a spicy apricot jam, basil oil, and grilled polenta toast. If burrata is on the menu, I almost always order it because it’s my favorite cheese. I’ve never had apricot with burrata, but after eating this dish, I will definitely try recreating it at home. The creamy burrata mixed with the sweet and hint of spice apricot jam on the toast added a perfect texture and was a flavor bomb. 

          To continue this meal, I ordered their truffle mushroom pizza. Right as I placed a slice of the pizza on my plate, an aroma of garlic goodness approached my nose. This rich pizza offered both a garlic cream and chunks of garlic that wouldn’t be ideal for a date, but it had a ton of flavor. The super thin dough came with an airy crust, but this texture was overwhelmed by oil which made the slices greasy. To create a greater balance, an added fresh element would help to hide the grease.

          The chef that created Bar Siena won a challenge on show, Top Chef, with this next dish. The brick chicken diavolo came with sticky Parmesan potatoes and a salad, making a full meal in itself. The chicken had crispy skin with juicy meat, but because it was placed on top of the potatoes, the potatoes lost some of their crispness. Although the salad on the side added a fresh element, it didn’t add much to the dish and probably could’ve been left off the plate. The chicken was cooked well, but I was expecting a bit more since it won such a highly recognized challenge.

          My favorite part of the dinner was the gnocchi with alla vodka sauce. The waiter recommended the gnocchi pasta and suggested mixing and matching sauces. This unique idea allowed me to order the rigatoni alla vodka and substitute the rigatoni for gnocchi. The gnocchi were like pillows of fluff and exceptionally tender which were then coated in a velvety cream sauce with a slight kick. 

          Finally, to feed into my sweet tooth, I finished my dinner with the apple brown butter crostata. The pastry was thin and topped with coarse sugar to add a nice texture element. It was then mixed with finely sliced apples to create a buttery sweet dessert. The salted caramel on the side provided a cut of sweetness to balance out the dessert overall, which made a lasting impression.

          All the dishes were easily shareable and the atmosphere was really inviting and lively. My waiter was very knowledgeable of the menu which helped create my order. However, the service diminished as the night continued because the restaurant got very busy. Even though the service didn’t end particularly well, the food spoke for itself and Bar Siena definitely exceeded my expectations.