SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 7, 2013

A culinary capital

Downtown Salem relishes its growing food scene

SALEM — The tourist from Cleveland walked through the door of Melita Fiore Patisserie on Washington Street, went straight to a glass case filled with macaroons, cupcakes, tortes and croissants, and took out his smartphone.

“I’d like to eat it all, but I can’t, so I take pictures,” said Dan Drescher, 63.

His wife, Sharilene, didn’t show the same restraint, ordering raspberry white chocolate mousse.

The French bakery, which opened last month a few doors down from City Hall, is the latest happening in a downtown fast becoming the culinary capital of the North Shore.

A lot of eyes are peeking around the corner to Church Street, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Turner’s Seafood, which will open this fall where the Lyceum restaurant used to be.

“We’re getting close,” said Jim Turner. “For business reasons, we thought it was best to kind of let October pass, do our training and try to open around the middle of November.”

Aware that their 43 Church St. building is steeped in history, the family will pay homage to the site by calling itself Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall.

Turner’s will have more than 150 seats, a fish market and an oyster bar. The popular bar from the Lyceum restaurant days is being restored.

Across Washington Street, a new Italian restaurant, Firenze Trattoria, opened a few weeks ago at 2 Lynde St.

“When people come and dine, it’s just like in Italy but without paying for the flight,” said Zamir Kociaj, owner-chef of the 30-seat restaurant.

A native of Albania, Kociaj grew up in Tuscany, where he learned the restaurant trade. He ran his own restaurant in Boston for several years before moving to Salem. Firenze Trattoria has several specialties, including gnocchi gorgonzola and toasted walnuts, and rigatoni with homemade sausage.

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