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A Rare Find in Malden

French Bistro Run by Husband and Wife Team Features Good Rolls, Healthy Portions

By Ruby Lam

Staff Writer

Tivoli’s Bistro

121 Exchange St.

Malden, MA 02148

(781) 321-5559

Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 5:30 p.m.- 9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., closed Sun.,Mon.

On a small street off the main road in Malden, there exists a small French bistro called Tivoli’s. I have never been to Malden. I don’t have friends who live there and I don’t usually go there to eat. I went there because a classmate of mine recommended this tiny French bistro called Tivoli’s in Malden. So I decided to give it a try.

There is a gym and a supermarket right across the street, and some apartments and industrial estates nearby. It doesn’t look like a locale where I would expect to find a fine French bistro.

I was instantly amazed, however, when I walked in. The dÉcor is amazingly modern and very French. With slowly turning ceiling fans and brick red walls, I felt like I was on Newbury Street or in the North End.

But with most appetizers and entrees priced below $10 and $20, I definitely didn’t feel like I was dining on Newbury Street.

For an appetizer, I started with “Orecchiette and Sausage” ($4.95). Crumbled sweet Italian sausage, orecchiette (a miniature UFO-shaped pasta), onion, and garlic are tossed with chicken broth and romano cheese. Its texture lies somewhere between a soup and a stew. It is hearty and filling, great for someone like me, who is recovering from a seasonal flu.

For entrÉe, I tried the “Long Island Duckling” ($15.95) pan-fried duck breast, served with scallion potato cake, duck confit, and port wine demi-glace. The highlight of this dish is the demi-glace, which enhanced the flavor of the meat tremendously. A little bit disappointing is that the duck was not crispy enough and was served cut and spread on a bed of demi-glace, which allowed the demi-glace to take away a lot of flavor from the piece of duck breast itself.

We also ordered “Gemelli Mariner’s Style” ($16.95) -- pasta twisted with shrimp, scallops, fresh plum tomatoes, basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and romano cheese. Refreshing, yet hearty with oversized seafood topping it, this dish feels more like grandma’s cooking.

Two things worth noting about Tivoli’s are their portion-sizes and dinner rolls. Their portions are generous, especially compared to the increasing popularity of “Nouveau Cuisine” -- a synonym for “shrinking portions.” The dinner rolls are also served warm, which is a rare find even among the finest bistros.

Malden is not a popular destination for its culinary treats. And living in Cambridge, we really don’t need to drive 20 minutes for a French bistro. However, a pat on the back for this husband and wife team that runs the place Yes, Tivoli’s is a rare find in Malden.