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Boston Restaurant Blog -- November, 2005

Below are blog entries from November, 2005. 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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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Best Boston Restaurants, 2005

Just finished up with the list of best restaurants in the Boston area for 2005, or I should say, best HIDDEN restaurants in the Boston area for 2005, since this IS Boston's Hidden Restaurants.

And this actually does bring me to a point--what are some of the best restaurants in the Boston area that are too popular to be listed in our restaurant guide? Well, there are too many to list here, but a few would be Santarpio's in East Boston for pizza, New Bridge Cafe in Chelsea for steak tips, Monica's in the North End of Boston for Italian food, and Bridgeman's in Hull for upscale American and Mediterranean food.

Enjoy looking through the best of 2005 restaurant list. Being that it is the first full year for Boston's Hidden Restaurants, the list is not extensive, but there are some tremendous restaurants included on this page.

Related Blog Entries: best Boston restaurants

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Pizza at the Liberty Grille, Hingham

We ended up at the Liberty Grille in Hingham last night by accident, as we were heading to Stars, which is next door. The lot at Stars was full, so we went over to the Liberty Grille to get a quick, casual dinner, as we were in a bind for time. It turned out to be a good choice, as the Liberty Grille is ultra-casual, incredibly cheap, housed in a charming location, and has some really great bar pizza.

Before continuing, I know people are already asking what bar pizza is. This is one of those terms that no one really knows how to define. Basically, a bar pizza is a small, individual pizza baked in a pan, typically served in bars, and usually inexpensive. Bar pizza tends to be greasy on top, but with a dry, crisp crust with no real out edge to the crust. Bar pizza can be very delicious if done right.

photo of the Liberty Grille, Hingham, MA Getting back on track (sorry to digress), the Liberty Grille has two floors; we ate in the top floor, which has lots of nooks and crannies, including tables near windows that give a view of Tosca, an upscale restaurant next door, and Stars. We sat at one of these tables and dined on pizza and salad, both of which were well worth the almost absurdly low price. I also made a mental note to try the steak tips the next time I went to the Liberty Grille, as they looked very tasty.

A few people today told me that Stars is also a good casual restaurant to go to, so I may try that the next time I am in Hingham. But it will be tough to pass up on the cheap eats at the Liberty Grille, so I may have to flip a coin.

For those who would like the address for the Liberty Grille, here it is: Liberty Grille, 8 North Street, Hingham, MA 02043; the phone number is (781) 749-2444.

Related Blog Entries: bar pizza, Hingham restaurants

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
New Taste of Asia, Brookline, MA: A BIG Thumbs Up

Just got back from New Taste of Asia in Brookline. All I can say about this little Coolidge Corner restaurant is, WOW! New Taste of Asia is an authentic Chinese restaurant in a tiny space on Beacon Street. The digs aren't elegant by any means, but it's all about the food here. We had a number of dishes at New Taste of Asia, including an incredibly fresh wonton soup, some of the best vegetable dumplings around, a simply amazing Singapore noodle entree, and a red-hot but delicious chili chicken dish.

I'm not sure that New Taste of Asia is my absolute favorite Chinese restaurant in the Boston area (that may have to go to King Fung Garden in Chinatown), but I could see it being number 2 or 3, which is high praise indeed, with the likes of restaurants like East Ocean City, also in Chinatown, Shanghai Gate in Allston, and Qingdao Garden in North Cambridge. One note: Qingdao Garden's dumplings may be better than those at New Taste of Asia. But Im not sure anyone in Boston has dumplings as good as Qingdao Garden.

If you are looking for the address for New Taste of Asia, it is: New Taste of Asia, 1393 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02446; the phone number is (617) 730-3888.

Related Blog Entries: Brookline restaurants, Chinese restaurants

Sunday, November 13, 2005
Sagamore Inn, Bourne: A Casual Italian Restaurant on Route 6A

What a beautiful weekend it was...we took advantage of it Saturday by biking on a part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich and Brewster, then we drove up to Scenic Route 6A along the quieter bay side of the Cape. I love Route 6A, but when you're wearing sweats and a "Life is Good" shirt, there are few restaurants on Route 6A that you can go to. I was hoping that the excellent yet casual Grumpy's Restaurant in East Dennis would still be open, but no such luck. So we wandered through the beautiful towns of Dennis, Yarmouthport, Barnstable, and Sandwich, looking for an informal restaurant that wasn't a pizza place or sub shop. No luck...

Finally, just before we hit the Sagamore Bridge, we saw a cozy little place on Route 6A called the Sagamore Inn in the Sagamore section of Bourne. We gave it a shot, and were very happy with the place. The Sagamore Inn is a casual Italian restaurant with a cozy dining room. Families and older couples made up most of the clientele at the Sagamore Inn, and most seemed like locals rather than tourists (of course, not many tourists go to Cape Cod in November). We ordered two classic, simple Italian dishes: The homemade lasagna and the chicken cacciatore, both of which were very good. The Sagamore Inn also has a decent wine list, and a rather tempting dessert list (the bread pudding was a bit heavy, but very tasty).

I'm glad to see that there is a good, casual family restaurant on Route 6A. The road definitely seems to be lacking in these kinds of places, so The Sagamore Inn certainly fills a need. I know that I'll be going back there again, perhaps the next time I hit the Cape Cod Rail Trail again.

If you want the address for The Sagamore Inn, here it is: Sagamore Inn, 1131 Sandwich Road (Route 6A), Bourne, MA 02532; the phone number is (508) 888-9707.

Related Blog Entries: Cape Cod restaurants, Italian restaurants

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Roslindale Restaurant Scene

Went back to the Village Sushi and Grill last night, and realized why I like this place so much. Village Sushi is definitely one of the best Japanese restaurants in Boston.

While heading there, I was reminded of how many great restaurants there are in or near Roslindale Village. From Italian restaurants such as Delfino and Gusto, to Mediterranean restaurants such as Sophia's Grotto and Cafe Apollonia, to American restaurants such as the Birch Street Bistro, Roslindale has quite a selection of restaurants.

Personally, though, it's tough for me to go to Roslindale and not hit Village Sushi and Grill. It really is that good. In my opinion, Village Sushi is up there with Oishii in Chestnut Hill and New Ginza in Watertown. If you haven't been, check Village Sushi and Grill out one of these days.

Related Blog Entries: Roslindale restaurants

Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Restaurants Outside of Boston That I Want to Try

There are a few restaurants around the United States that I really want to get to. Some are close to Boston and others are near places I often visit, so hopefully I will get to those. Others, however, may not be gotten to for a long time, unfortunately. Here are three of the restaurants I want to get to, and soon:

Pepe's Pizzeria, New Haven, CT--I have heard a lot about the pizza at Frank Pepe's Pizzeria. Some say it may be the best pizza in New England, if not the country. Whether the pizza is indeed the best or not, I need to head down Route 95 to New Haven one of these days and check Pepe's Pizzeria out. Pepe's address is: Pepe's Pizzeria, 157 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT 06511. The phone number is: (203) 865-5762

R and G Lounge, San Francisco, CA--San Francisco has some of the best Chinese restaurants in America, and one of the best in San Francisco is the R and G Lounge, situated in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. Diners can go downstairs to eat great food for next to nothing, or head upstairs to spend a little more on some of the best dinner entrees in the city. The address for the R and G Lounge is: R and G Lounge, 631 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108. The phone number is: (415) 982-7877

Vetri Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA--I have read that Vetri is considered by some reviewers to be one of the best Italian restaurants in the United States, which is enough motivation for me to get there someday. Vetri has both Northern Italian and Southern Italian cuisine, and is supposed to be a restaurant that stresses simplicity and quality in a cozy, intimate environment. The address for Vetri Restaurant is: Vetri Restaurant, 1312 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. The phone number is: (215) 732-3478

There are many more, of course, including places I've been to but must get back to. Two of those include Hodad's in the Ocean Beach part of San Diego (best burger I've had anywhere in the United States), and the incomparable Italian restaurant Mamma Luisa in the bustling seaport city of Newport, RI, which is a day trip from where I live, but is an extremely difficult restaurant to get a table.

Saturday, November 5, 2005
Sal's Pizza, Lawrence: Good Food, Great Location

A few of us tried the new branch of Sal's Pizza and Italian Restaurant in Lawrence yesterday. Sal's is on Merrimack Street, in the huge Riverwalk mill building right on the Merrimack River. And what a location--nearly every table at Sal's has an amazing view of the Merrimack, and there is a long outdoor seating area that will be a huge attraction for the spring and summer months.

photo of Sal's Pizza, Lawrence, MA And the food? Well, everyone thought the pizza was above average; I liked it less than most of the people I was with, but still thought it was very good. The pizza at Sal's is thick crust and a bit doughy, with little grease. In other words, their pizza will not be everyone's cup of tea. But the huge slices at Sal's are a good deal and tasty enough, and if you want something other than pizza, Sal's has many pasta dishes, too.

I am in the Lawrence area a lot, and am happy to see that yet another new business has moved onto the riverfront of this historic mill city that is really starting to turn a corner. And while I prefer the Sicilian pizza at both Napoli and Tripoli on nearby Common Street, neither of these places has the outstanding views or the interesting atmosphere that Sal's Pizza has. Hopefully I'll get back soon to try the entrees at Sal's. I'll report back once I do.

If you would like the address for Sal's Pizza and Italian Restaurant, here it is: Sal's Pizza, 354 Merrimack Street, Lawrence, MA 01843; the phone number is (978) 291-0220.

Related Blog Entries: Lawrence restaurants, pizza places

Thursday, November 3, 2005
Kudos Once Again to Sala Thai in Arlington

It has been a great two nights, food-wise. Last night, it was the Mount Vernon Restaurant in Somerville, a classic old-fashioned restaurant that only seem to exist in the close-knit neighborhoods of Somerville, Dorchester, and South Boston. And this evening, a group of us went back to Sala Thai in Arlington Heights. The last time I went (also with a group of people), we were all greatly impressed by this friendly, cozy restaurant on Mass. Ave. This time? If anything, Sala Thai was even better. Sala Thai is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants.

That's about it for tonight--tomorrow, several of us are going to try the brand-spankin' new Sal's Pizza in Lawrence. I hope to report back to everyone on Sal's over the weekend.

Related Blog Entries: Arlington restaurants, Thai restaurants

Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Michelin Restaurant Guide to New York City Coming to Stores This Week

Just heard that the 2006 Michelin guidebook to New York City restaurants is going to be out later this week. It should be interesting to see what Michelin has to say about some of the top restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the rest of the New York area. I hear that some of the best New York restaurants may not be happy with the ratings they get.

Michelin is known throughout Europe for their restaurant guidebooks; whether their restaurant guide to Manhattan and the New York area is also a bit hit remains to be seen. But I'll probably look into getting the Michelin restaurant guide to New York when it comes out, as I go to New York City a lot, and frequent a number of Manhattan restaurants.

Related Blog Entries: Manhattan restaurants, New York restaurants, restaurant guides

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Quiet Corner of Connecticut Restaurant Search

Headed to northeastern Connecticut, also known as the "Quiet Corner of Connecticut," last Saturday, to escape the early snowfall in Boston (strange weather these days!). It was a beautiful day, for awhile anyway, in the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, and we made the most of it.

photo of Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Pomfret, CT Enjoying the fall foliage at every turn, we made our way along scenic Route 169 through the beautiful villages of Woodstock and Pomfret and wound our way up to the Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret. Unlike some of the vineyards and wineries I have been to in New England, the Sharpe Hill Vineyard has a number of top-rated wines that are truly excellent. Sharpe Hill is a nice place tucked away in the hills near Pomfret, and the winery has a great little outdoor patio where you can sip wine and breathe in the fresh air of this hidden part of New England.

After leaving the Sharpe Hill Winery, we toyed with heading to the outstanding Vanilla Bean Cafe in the center of Pomfret, but decided to try to find a new restaurant. Unfortunately, there aren't many restaurants in rural northeastern Connecticut, and we drove past only a handful of places, including the charming Altnaveigh Inn and Restaurant in Mansfield (next to Storrs and the University of Connecticut), which we weren't dressed for, unfortunately.

Somehow, we ended up back in Massachusetts, still unable to find an interesting restaurant in Storrs or the small towns along Route 84. Sturbridge looked promising, but it seemed that every restaurant, from the Publick House to the Whistling Swan looked too upscale and formal--we just wanted good, inexpensive food in a decent restaurant. Finally, heading east toward Worcester, we found a Greek restaurant in Charlton called Zorba's Pizzeria and Tavern, which was on Route 20 just east of Sturbridge. We gave Zorba's a try, and, for the most part, it was very good; the grape leaves were outstanding, the soups were excellent, and the hummus was decent. The pastichio, however, was too oily and there wasn't enough ground beef in it. Not bad, but I've had better pastichio in many other places. Overall, Zorba's was worth going to, but there must be other restaurants between Sturbridge and the Vanilla Bean Cafe that are worth checking out.

I love the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, and would love to find some decent restaurants near Route 169. If anyone knows of any good ones, contact us with the names of the restaurants. I would really appreciate it! In the meantime, I'll keep going to the Vanilla Bean in Pomfret, which really is a great spot.

Related Blog Entries: Connecticut restaurants, Greek restaurants