Break free

Black Spaghetti at Liberty comes with mussels, shrimp and calamari in a spicy white wine broth.

Black Spaghetti at Liberty comes with mussels, shrimp and calamari in a spicy white wine broth.


Liberty Food & Wine Exchange is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit

Liberty Food & Wine Exchange extolls the use of local “farm to table” ingredients, with an artisanal bakery and butcher shop in-house. They produce a pretty impressive selection of salumi, charcuterie and cheese plates, accompanied by a wide variety of condiments and carbs that are hard to pass up. I recommend trying the chef’s choice combo ($24) for a selection of all three.

On my dinner visit with friends, the local beef burger sounded great, but I decided to start with an order of beef sliders to share ($10 for two) with caramelized onion and cheddar. The meat was medium rare, and the overall result was above par. The side of house pickle was pretty complex, like a mix of vinegar with Chinese five spice.

A pot of mussels ($18) cooked in tomato, garlic, chile flake, cream and herbs was served with bread. The mussels were plentiful, and the bread was necessary because the sauce was the best part. Equally good was a sausage platter ($18) with housemade chorizo, beer bratwurst and the “Big Vinnie” Italian sausage, served with housemade sauerkraut, roasted potato and mustard. Everything about this was great, with a nice contrast between sweet, spicy and herby notes.

The nightly steak special was broccoli and beef ($28), grilled Korean skirt steak with local morel, broccoli, heirloom carrot, celeriac puree, celery root chips and basil oil. The sauce was sweet, smoky and spicy, and the rest of the components worked well to provide contrasts of flavor and texture. It was difficult to decide which item was best.

Tuesday is pasta night, so when you order one dish you get another of equal or lesser value for free. We selected dishes of Old Skool Gnocchi ($15) made with cream, grana padano cheese, black truffle mascarpone and local oyster mushroom; Lobster Rigatoni ($22) featuring lemon cream, green garlic and summer squash; Pappardelle ($14) coated in bolognese and parmigiano reggiano; and Black Spaghetti ($20) with mussels, shrimp and calamari, doused in a spicy white wine broth.

The long, broad pappardelle noodles were al dente, but a knife was required to break them up to share, and there could have been more of the tasty, meaty sauce. Though the rigatoni was very good, this lobster dish was seriously outshone by the wonder of squid ink spaghetti and the best gnocchi I’ve had in a long time. The briny, black pasta was loaded with shellfish and little squid rings, and the lightly spicy broth brought it all together. It was even great reheated as leftovers. But those pillows of dumpling goodness were something else. The creamy, cheesy sauce was perfection, the fungi a delight, and the finishing touch of truly truffled cheese sent it over the top. This is a dish not to be missed. It easily my favorite part of our experience.

We shared desserts, including a PB and chocolate brownie ($7), a plate-sized brownie topped with peanut butter ganache, and crumbles of Butterfinger crisp beneath a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The brownie was more fudgy than cakey, but the kids seemed to enjoy it just fine. A Budino ($8) of salted caramel pudding with chocolate cookie crumbs on the bottom, salted caramel drizzle, and whipped cream on top was my favorite—smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough. I should have paired it with espresso, but I was in a bit of pleasant daze from all of the food by that point. Next time.