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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Great Escape - Italian eats in Salem's historic jail

Great Escape

Italian eats in Salem's historic jail
50 Saint Peter St, at Bridge; Salem; 978.745.5022
Prisons are a lot of fun -- everyone makes friends, gets cool jobs, and amuses themselves by calling Morgan Freeman ethnically confusing nicknames. Offering that joyful prison ambiance and delicious grub, Great Escape, open now.


Set in Salem's historic old town jail (built 1813, shuttered 1990), this sophomore offering from a Peabody restaurateur slings hearty Italian grub in a high ceiling'd 19-table exposed brick/stone floor dining room (formerly the jail's laundry area) replete with the original prison bars, second floor windows, and wrought iron chandeliers, along with a separate speakeasy-like 14-seat back lounge/bar accessed via a hallway papered with enlarged pics of original 19th century jail documents and decorated with a giant poster that reads "Crime Does Not Pay", which would've been good to know before you invited it to play in your fantasy league. Burly farm fare includes the Mafia (a cranberry port wine sauce'd 14oz sirloin w/ asparagus); sliced roasted lamb marinated in herb dijon mustard sauce w/ broccoli rabe called the Fed; and the Jack Bauer, a creamy lemon herb sauce'd chicken breast w/ roasted pepper, prosciutto, and way too much faith in Tony Almeida. There's also pasta/seafood like the Al Capone (fusilli topped w/ Italian sausage in a hot cherry pepper garlic olive oil sauce), the Scarface (sauteed shrimp/fresh tomatoes on a bed of linguini), and pan seared jumbo scallops w/ parmigiano and risotto called the Al Pacino, which is fine on any given sunday, but better with heat.

Because facts state that prison makes you thirsty, there's a full bar, a well-balanced wine list, and a solid choice of drafts like Sam October and Ipswich -- another place that's a lot of fun in the summer, assuming you can avoid getting Red.
Even better, it's only a short walk from the commuter rail! Beat the Halloween crowds and check it out now at


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