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Boston Restaurant Blog -- July, 2006

Below are blog entries from July, 2006. Use the links in the left column to do a quick search of blog entries, or to see blog entries from other months. And feel free to use the "Comments" links under each blog entry to reply to us; your comments just might end up in our Boston restaurant blog! (Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.)

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JULY, 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006
My Top 10 Pizza Places in the Northeast

Though it is hardly news, I must stress once again how much I love pizza. And I am always searching for that perfect pie (it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it). This summer, I have found a couple of places I had never been to that are now ranked among the best pizza places I have been to in New England. The places? Bianchi's Pizza at Revere Beach, and Frank Pepe's Pizzeria in New Haven, CT. These two phenomenal pizza places are definitely in my top 10 for the Northeast. What are the others? Please see below--these are in order, more or less, though my favorites are constantly changing:

1. Grimaldi's, Brooklyn, NY
2. Santarpio's, East Boston, MA
3. Pizzeria Regina, Boston, MA
4. Frank Pepe's Pizzeria, New Haven, CT
5. Galleria Umberto, Boston, MA
6. Lynwood Cafe, Randolph, MA
7. Sicilia's, Providence, RI
8. Bianchi's Pizza, Revere Beach, MA
9. The Paddock, Somerville, MA
10. Tripoli Bakery, Lawrence, MA

you may notice some excellent pizza places missing from this list, including Emma's in Cambridge, and Napoli in Lawrence, but there are only so many pizza places you can put in a top 10 list (namely 10). By the way, if you have a favorite pizza place, feel free to either post a comment to this blog entry or write a description of the pizza place on our Viewers' Favorite Restaurants page.

Related Blog Entries: pizza places

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Decent Meal at The Lobster Tale, Brant Rock (Marshsfield), MA

We decided to head down Route 3A on Saturday evening to see what kind of seafood restaurant we could find. After driving through Hingham, Cohasset, and Scituate, we ended up in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield. Brant Rock is an historic little village with beautiful views of the ocean, and several dining spots. After debating whether we should try the Fairview Inn, which looked like an intriguing spot, we opted for The Lobster Tale right in the heart of Brant Rock.

photo of The Lobster Tale, Brant Rock (Marshfield), Massachusetts The Lobster Tale felt like a comfortable place that catered mostly to locals, including many retirees. They even have a senior section on the menu! Service was friendly, the noise level wasn't bad, and the wicker chairs were comfortable. We ordered a few dishes, including fried calamari, broiled scallops, and a turkey dinner. The calamari was about the best I've had in the Boston area; tender, fresh, and delicious, with a great marinara sauce for dipping. The scallops were not as good, as they were mushy and a bit undercooked. And the turkey dinner was very good, though obviously not their specialty (this IS a seafood restaurant, after all).

I really wanted to like The Lobster Tale, as it seems like the perfect find: A comfortable old seafood restaurant in the middle of a quiet coastal village off the beaten path. Unfortunately, The Lobster Tale isn't quite there as far as being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants. We may try it again at some point, ordering other dishes to see if perhaps it comes a bit closer to some of the better seafood restaurants in the Boston area, such as the Village Restaurant in Essex, or Brown's in Seabrook, NH. For now, though, we see The Lobster Tale as a pretty decent restaurant that is worth checking out if you're in the Marshfield area, and one that you must try if you like calamari.

If you want the address for The Lobster Tale, here it is: The Lobster Tale, 278 Ocean Street, Brant Rock (Marshfield), MA; the phone number is (781) 834-3333

Related Blog Entries: seafood restaurants

Friday, July 21, 2006
Traveling with Boston's Hidden Restaurants

You may have noticed that every now and then, a link to a city, town, region, or scenic route shows up in the Boston Restaurant Blog. What exactly are these links? Well, I have a little side project called Travel Guide of America that includes information and photos on areas throughout the United States that people may be interested in visiting. The links simply show photos and give information on some of these areas.

For instance, if you read about the Dock and Dine in the blog entry below, you will see a link to Old Saybrook, CT. The link has a picture of the town, as well as a brief description. Other links include scenic regions such as Long Lake, Maine, and beautiful roads such as Route 28 in New York.

Much of the site is dedicated to photos I have taken in my travels throughout the country, and I do have some favorites. I'd say that five of my favorite photos are the following:

Hull, MA
Mendocino, CA
East Glacier Park, MT
Lexington, MA
Tamworth, NH

There are many more photos, as well as a good amount of information, on the Travel Guide of American site. Hopefully I'll be adding more to the site as I do some more traveling over the next few months.

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Lunch at the Dock and Dine, Old Saybrook, CT

Saturday was a stifling summer day in Boston, so we decided to head down to the Connecticut coast to cool down a bit. We drove about two hours to get to Old Saybrook, a delightful seaside town with a welcoming town center, a number of beautiful old homes, and a stunning view of the mouth of the Connecticut River from Saybrook Point.

photo of the Dock and Dine, Old Saybrook, Connecticut In addition to the scenery, Saybrook Point also has a very nice restaurant called the Dock and Dine, which we ended up going to for a late lunch. The Dock and Dine is situated right on the shoreline of the Connecticut River, which almost feels like the ocean at this part of the river. The restaurant itself is huge, with a large room inside and an extensive outdoor seating area along the river.

We ordered a few dishes at the Dock and Dine, including the fried calamari (outstanding), the littlenecks (excellent), and the tuna melt on an English muffin (very good). All in all, it was a satisfying meal, and pretty reasonably priced, too.

The Dock and Dine seems geared mostly toward families and retirees, as it is a quiet, mellow place with food that, while not exactly exotic or cutting edge, is very satisfying, especially for those who like seafood. I will definitely go back the next time I am in the Old Saybrook area, unless I decide to drive a bit west to New Haven for some of that incredible pizza at Frank Pepe's Pizzeria (see below). Either way, I know I'll be heading back to Boston with a happy stomach!

If you are looking for the address for the Dock and Dine, here it is: Dock and Dine, Saybrook Point, Old Saybrook, CT; the phone number is (860) 388-4665

Related Blog Entries: Connecticut restaurants, seafood restaurants

Saturday, July 15, 2006
Friday Night at Revere Beach

Three of us took a spin up to Revere Beach on Friday night to get some cheap eats and try to escape the summer heat. We started off at Bianchi's Pizza for some truly incredible pizza. This was my second trip to Bianchi's this week, but I can never get tired of their pies, which in my opinion rank just below Santarpio's in East Boston and Pizzeria Regina in the North End for best pizza in the Boston area. In fact, a feature on Bianchi's Pizza has just been added to Boston's Hidden Restaurants (see link above).

After downing a few slices, we walked up the road to Kelly's Roast Beef where I ordered a cheeseburger and fries (we were all still a bit hungry after Bianchi's Pizza). Many people don't realize it, but Kelly's has outstanding burgers. The fries, however, have never been great, and Friday night was no exception. Kelly's is definitely a classic, and a great spot to do people-watching while enjoying a bite to eat on any number of the benches that line the beach wall.

We finished off the night by walking another few hundred yards up to Kell's Kreme not to be confused with Kelly's; it's called Kell's, not Kelly's). Kell's has excellent soft serve ice cream, though the portions were just a bit too large for us after all the food we ate. Kell's isn't the most well-known ice cream stand in the area, but it is definitely worth checking out.

I don't get up to Revere Beach as much as I used to, but when we do go, it is still a memorable time. Sure, Revere Beach can be a bit tacky, but that is half the fun. I hope it never changes...

If you are wondering how to get to Bianchi's Pizza, Kelly's Roast Beef, and Kell's Kreme, they are all on Revere Beach Boulevard along Revere Beach, within walking distance of each other.

Related Blog Entries: hamburgers, ice cream stands, pizza places, Revere restaurants

Monday, July 10, 2006
Hot Dog! We Have A New Section That Is A Real Wiener

Thanks in part to last week's trip to Connecticut, we now have a new "cuisine" in the "Search by Cuisine" section of Boston's Hidden Restaurants. That cuisine is hot dogs, and we have two entries in it as of this point, with more to come soon. If you want to see this new section, go to the Hot Dog Stands page on our site.

That's all for now. If you have any favorite hot dog stands, by the way, or any other favorite restaurants for that matter, feel free to list them on our Viewers' Favorite Restaurants page.

Related Blog Entries: hot dogs

Monday, July 3, 2006
Dog Day Afternoon in Connecticut

It was a long time coming, but a buddy of mine and I finally got to do a classic, yet slightly preposterous day trip to Connecticut. The trip--to hit 5 or 6 old-fashioned food joints mostly between Hartford and Long Island Sound, was planned awhile ago, but we had been unable to find time to do it until this past weekend. And was it ever worth it. You could say it was the ultimate guy's trip, a mystery ride with the sole purpose being to find some of the best roadside dining spots in New England.

photo of Al's Hot Dog Stand, Naugatuck, Connecticut We decided to start with two of the places that would be furthest from the Boston area, then work our way back. The first stop turned out to be a little hot dog stand just south of Waterbury in the sleepy riverside town of Naugatuck. Al's Hot Dog Stand sits under a big billboard between a steeply wooded hill and the highway, just south of town. Pretty it aint, but Al's Hot Dog Stand turned out to be our favorite spot for hot dogs on the trip. In fact, the foot-long hot dog I ate at one of Al's picnic tables (along with a fine birch beer to wash it down) may be the best dog I have had anywhere, which is saying a lot, because our next stop would be a place that was voted top 10 the United States for hot dogs by a major food magazine.

photo of Super Duper Weenie, Fairfield, Connecticut Indeed, Super Duper Weenie, located about a half hour south of Al's Hot Dog Stand in tony Fairfield, has received so much praise in the media that it was a bit daunting going there. The name of the place sounds like a little kid's hee-hee joke, but at Super Duper Weenie, they take their hot dogs seriously. The hot dogs are split before cooking, helping to give it a bit of a snappy, crusty crunch to it without having to rely on a thick casing. The results are almost too good for words; I could see why this tiny spot just off Route 95 was so popular even on a holiday weekend. And though my Dixie Dog was smothered in cole slaw (which I didn't realize until after I had ordered it), the combination of hot dog and chili left me with a smile on my face as we left Fairfield and headed east.

photo of Frank Pepe's Pizzeria, New Haven, Connecticut We drove along the coast toward New Haven to see what the towering Frank Pepe's Pizzeria looked like, as well as to find out where exactly it was, for future reference. We had planned the trip with hot dogs, hamburgers, cheesesteak, and ice cream in mind, so this was basically a reconnaissance mission to Pepe's, so that the next time I was heading to New York or New Jersey, I would know how to get there. Well, much to our surprise, not only was Frank Pepe's open on a Sunday at 2:00, but it was mostly empty. And you, dear reader, surely know the rest. Our plans took a slight turn as we parked on Wooster Street and proceeded to walk into the original Pepe's, to feel what it was like to be in the company of greatness. And yes, it was truly great. The waitresses were a bit surly and the dining room was a bit less charming than I had expected, but it just doesn't matter; the pizza at Frank Pepe's was every bit as good as the best pizza place in the Northeast, including Regina's and Santarpio's in Boston and Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, NY.

photo of Glenwood Drive-In, Hamden, Connecticut After being at one of the top 10 hot dog stands in the country and one of the top 10 pizza places in the country IN ONE HOUR (think about that!), we readied ourselves for disappointment, and we found it, to an extent, at the Glenwood Drive-In in Hamden, a community a few miles north of New Haven. We ordered hot dogs and fries at the Glenwood, and while the food wasn't bad, it wasn't anything special, either. Furthermore, the restaurant was rather plain-looking, and there wasn't that special feel that we got at the first three places. In addition, the hot dogs at the Glenwood have a fairly thick natural casing, which I am not fond of unless the hot dogs is incredible tasty. I must say, though, that the clams looked and smelled delicious, so perhaps another trip will have to be taken to the Glenwood Drive-In one of these days.

photo of Doogies, Newington, Connecticut By now, I was really starting to fill up, but we pushed on, heading north along the Berlin Turnpike to the Hartford suburb of Newington. There, we stopped at a rather eclectic place called Doogies, which, according to them is home to the world's longest hot dogs AND the best Philly cheesesteak north of Philly. There was no way I could eat a hot dog that was well over one foot long, so I ordered a cheesesteak, while my friend decided on the hot dog. When the hot dog was put onto our tray, I burst out laughing; nothing can prepare you for the sight of a hot dog that is half the length of a table. And while it seemed that the hot dog was almost more of a novelty (it was decent, but not nearly as good as those at Al's or Super Duper Weenie), the cheesesteak was indeed the best I have ever had. It actually made me hungry as I ate it, which is quite a feat considering all the food we had eaten up to this point.

photo of Kool Cow Ice Cream and Restaurant, Manchester, Connecticut Our trip was now winding down, with our half-hearted attempt at going to O'Rourke's Diner in Middletown being squelched by a large "CLOSED" sign in the front. It was probably just as well, since their specialty is steamed burgers, and I'm not sure this would have been a good idea at this point. Partly disappointed but mostly relieved, we continued east through the scenic farmland of central Connecticut, stopping for a final snack along the way at the Kool Cow Ice Cream and Restaurant in Manchester. As we ordered some soft serve ice cream (which was terrific, by the way), my friend pointed out how extensive their food menu was. I nodded my head but never looked, fearing my stomach's reaction. We took our ice creams outside where I sat on yet another picnic bench, soaked up some sun, and got the map out to find the way back to Boston.

This was indeed a trip for the ages; how many chances does one get to hit several truly great dining spots in one day? And while I admit I don't feel all that great today, I would do it again in a heartbeat. But perhaps I'll wait awhile--like maybe next year.

One final note: Aside from the sheer fun factor of this trip, I did have another purpose for going, and that was to look for one dining spot out of the six that would not only be good, but also little-known. And one of these places did hit home on both counts, so we will be doing a feature on it soon. The restaurant? Al's Hot Dog Stand in Naugatuck. Congratulations to Al's!

Here are the addresses and phone numbers for each of the dining spots we went to:
Al's Hot Dog Stand, 248 South Main Street, Naugatuck, CT 06770. Phone: (203) 729-6229
Super Duper Weenie, 306 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, CT 06825. Phone: (203) 334-3647 Frank Pepe's Pizzeria (The Spot), 163 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Phone: (203) 865-7602
Glenwood Drive-In, 2538 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518. Phone: (203) 281-0604
Doogies, 2525 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111. Phone: (860) 666-1944
Kool Cow Ice Cream and Restaurant, 242 Broad Street, Manchester, CT 06040. Phone: (860) 647-7343

Related Blog Entries: Connecticut restaurants, hot dogs, pizza places, road trips

Saturday, July 1, 2006
Summertime in Boston

Once again, I stray a bit from restaurant talk, but only because I am gearing up for a road trip where I will be seeking out several classic roadside restaurants over the July 4 weekend, so I am taking a break from food right now.

Anyway, with July 4 approaching, summer is in full swing in the Boston area. This time of year, there aren't many places in the country that are better spots to be in than New England. From ice cream, fried clams, and beach blankets on the Cape to scenic hikes in the White Mountains to long, lazy drives through the back roads of Vermont to searches for lobster pounds on the Maine coast to evening strolls through Newport or Providence, there is definitely something for everyone in this part of the country. As much as I love San Diego, San Francisco, New York City (the Yankees not included, of course), and Washington, DC, I don't think I'd want to be anywhere else other than Boston, especially this time of year.

If I weren't holding off on hitting restaurants right now, tonight would be a perfect night to go to any number of fun, outdoor dining spots, including Kelly's at Revere Beach, Tony's Clam Shop in Quincy, Sal's Pizza in Lawrence, or Eastern Pier II down on the waterfront. But I'll be good tonight; come Monday or Tuesday, though, I will be reporting back on what I hope will be some of the best classic summertime dining spots in New England. Stay tuned, as it should be interesting to say the least!

Related Blog Entries: outdoor dining