on the cheap



Certain optimists I know see Somerville as the Paris of the '90s. The opening of Montparnasse, near Porter Square, will fuel their fantasies.

The new retail operation of Michaelangelo's Catering beckons you to stay, with its bright, airy space, red-and-white checked tiles, and window pots of fresh herbs. But that is not an option; Montparnasse is strictly "gourmet-to-go."

What you take with you are generous portions of real food, deftly prepared, tasty, and ready to heat, for not a lot of money. Daily choices come from a huge repertoire of soups (all $3), side and entree salads (roughly $2.50 and $4, respectively), entrees (all between $4 and $4.50), side dishes ($2), and desserts (mostly $2.50).

Entrees include every manner of chicken - marsala, piccata, parmesan, sesame, Dijon, Tuscan, and Cajun, to name a few; chili for carnivores and vegetarians; and pasta dishes such as spinach and ricotta-stuffed manicotti and three kinds of lasagna. Many preparations are low in fat - "lean and mean" in Montparnasse parlance - and nothing is fried.

Montparnasse, located at 285 Beacon Street, in Somerville, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 7 p.m. A number of dishes are sold frozen, though, so you can stock up for Mondays and Tuesdays, too. Call 354-FOOD.

- Adam Ried