Foodies of Wakefield, awaken! Antonietta DiLemmi and her sister Elisa, proprietors of Ristorante Molise, have changed the menu to include more organic meats and vegetables and locally grown produce.
That’s not the news, though: The real news is that the family has not passed on the cost to diners. The menu has been updated, but not the prices.
“It does cost us more on our end, but we did it to enhance the quality of the food and to make our customers happy," DiLemmi said with a smile. "That comes first.”
“People tell us they want food that’s organic and healthy," she said. "We keep an open mind to what our customers want, and we’re willing to change the menu to please them. Also, we focus more on quality than quantity, and that’s what people care about today.”
Americans are certainly more knowledgeable about food than we used to be. DiLemmi said she sees this foodiness right at the table. Years ago, she said, a customer might ask what was in a dish and inquire no further.
“Today, they want to know what’s in it but also, ‘is the pasta made fresh, are the vegetables local, is the meat fresh and not frozen?'”
At Ristorante Molise, the answers are yes, yes, and yes, in that order.
Aren't all those questions annoying? Wakefield Patch asked.
“No! I love it!” said DiLemmi, who uses only fresh garlic, fresh basil, and the highest grade olive oil in her cooking. “My customers are my family, and I would want to please them as if they were eating in my own home. This restaurant is my home.”
So the Pasti di Bosco, made with homemade fettucine, has organic mushrooms in its cream sauce. The Pappardelle Bolognese is made with locally produced beef, pork, and veal; and the Bistecca di Parma features grass-fed strip steak under that rosemary parmesan butter. The Pollo Marsala is made with free-range chicken. Even the venison is organic.
In order to provide this quality, DiLemmi had to change purveyors. Her previous supplier would not likely carry the wild-harvested mushrooms she purchases from places like Shady Oak Organics, located on the North Shore near Molise’s second restaurant, in Amesbury. Another resource is Northeast Family Farms, an organization that links chefs seeking quality locally produced food to small and medium-sized family-run farms throughout the Northeast.
The changes haven’t gone unnoticed. Dan Lieber, a Wakefield resident, said over email he felt it was “a restaurant [that] is quietly making a difference," he said. "While you are there, ask to try the tiramisu. It's homemade by her mom and is amazing!”