Leena’s Kitchen is a welcome addition to the Plymouth dining scene.By Maria Allen
Carefully folded cloth napkins, a sleek bar and bountiful charcuterie boards brimming with Italian cold cuts, savory cheeses and sweet accoutrements come together to deliver a contemporary Italian dining experience at Leena’s Kitchen. The restaurant, which opened last fall in a busy retail plaza off exit 5 in Plymouth, is not what you would call an old-world, traditional Italian restaurant (you won’t find legs of Prosciutto hanging from the ceiling), but it does aim to please diners with expertly executed Italian dishes and a welcoming atmosphere.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Leena’s Kitchen on two occasions and my experience was top-notch both times. My recent visit was on a Thursday night and as soon as my husband and I stepped through the door we could see the place was packed—always a good sign for a new restaurant. Since we hadn’t made a reservation, we were more than happy to snag a pair of seats at the bar.
After perusing the drink menu, which contains a wide variety of Italian wines, craft beers and cocktails, my husband ordered a Mayflower beer and I selected a vanilla-pear martini. Mixed with a local pear puree and garnished with a thin pear slice, it was smooth and delicious.
We ordered a few items off the antipasti menu, including a delightful arancini that came on a bed of fresh arugula with spicy tomato sauce. We also tried fried calamari (a special that night), which was light and crispy and tossed with peppers. Our next selection was a tasting board topped with a variety of cured meats (salumi) and tasty cheeses (formaggi). Guests can customize these wooden serving trays with items like Chorizo Picante, Prosciutto di Parma, and Salami Tartufo, wedges of cranberry Wensleydale (Yorkshire, England) and truffle pecorino (Napoli, Italy). I was surprised to find a local cheese on the menu, Great Blue Hill Blue, made in Marion, Massachusetts.
Executive chef and managing partner Kevin Buckley heads up a collaborative kitchen team. The menu is always changing to reflect the seasons and ingredients are sourced from local farms whenever possible. During the winter months, popular entreés include hearty meals like wild boar Bolognese, house-made gnocchi and an elegantly plated pork osso buco.
We couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at the dessert menu before we left and decided to indulge a little. We ordered the banana’s Foster, which came with big scoops of ice cream and was drizzled in hot caramelized pecan sauce, and a towering carrot cake with alternating layers of cake and frosting. Both desserts were large enough for sharing.
General manager and partner Daniel Casinelli and assistant general manager and partner Lisa Marsh, named the restaurant after their grandmother, who grew up in Arpino, Italy. Casinelli and Marsh remember their grandmother making pasta and gnocchi from scratch and their love for Italian cuisine helped inspire their recent restaurant venture. While Leena’s Kitchen is still fairly new on the scene, the team seems dedicated to dishing out delicious food and providing impeccable customer service. Nonna, Leena, would be proud.
63 Long Pond Road