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Some people get all the breaks because their parents are rich, they have a powerful last name, or they're just dumb and lucky. And while it's natural to be envious, it's unnecessary, because these people live vapid, soulless lives and never experience the joy that comes along with accomplishment. Conversely, there are the people who succeed because they're motivated and know how to capitalize on their skills. Case in point: Michael Hebb and Naomi Pomeroy, the founders of Ripe.
When you review lots of restaurants, it's easy to fall back on hyperbole. It was the "best marinara sauce I've ever eaten," or, "their green beans were fresher than a clover field in Spring." But in the case of Ripe, there's no need for hyperbole, because the crowd doesn't need convincing. Ripe draws crowds nightly, and until now, the only way to get in was to be invited by someone who had already been. The restaurant, without advertising or even a sign on the street, created a buzz with an unprecedented combination of mysterious cool and flat-out extraordinary cuisine.
With a single dinner prepared nightly and passed down the long tables family style, Ripe's supper chef is able to focus soley on one spectacular meal. The menu last Thursday consisted of Mackerel and blood orange crostini, a huge, simple, dark green salad, and a rabbit ragu over homemade pasta. It's most likely you won't be served this exact meal when you go, but expect a lineup that's just as titillating.
The pungent, briny Mackerel couldn't have been better complimented by the orange sauce and crisp bread. The salad, sprinkled with cheese, provided a smart respite from strong flavors, with a simple, minimal oil and balsamic drizzle. Then came the mind-blowing rabbit Ragu. I must admit that rabbit and bloody filet mignon are tied as my favorite meats, so this meal was particularly well suited to my tastes. But if you haven't had rabbit recently, the gamey meat is what pork wishes it was; densely flavorful, smoky, and distinct. And while you might be skeptical, it went fabulously with the chef's tomato sauce, adding richness, texture, and heft. Tossed with charming, irregularly cut pasta, my dining partners and I forgot about filling our wine glasses (at least for a little while) and concentrated strictly on eating.
Ripe, while a godsend for the adventurous food lover, isn't recommended for picky eaters or vegans. Vegetarians will miss out on the intended beauty of the food with vegetable substitutions; although, to be fair, the vegetarian pesto pasta with Ricotta was delicious. But it wasn't rabbit.
I went to Ripe with a party of eight for a friend's birthday, which was ideal for the occasion. Because you dine at long tables with other patrons, it's nice to know most of them and eat their leftovers. Our party was by far the most raucous at Ripe, but we joked that because they serve family-style dinners, they have to accept the alcoholic side of the family, too. And honestly, everyone in the restaurant seemed too focused on their friends and the delicious food to care that our party was shrieking and repeatedly saying the word "penis." Or maybe they were just as drunk on the food, wine, and atmosphere as we were.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. Seating Mon-Sat 7:30 pm. Twenty dollars for dinner, plus $5 for dessert, plus gratuity.