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Boston Restaurant Blog -- May and June, 2005

Below are blog entries from May and June, 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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JUNE, 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005
Example of a Hidden Restaurant That Almost Made the Site

While the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site is full of great little-known dining spots, not every hidden restaurant in Boston and New England is going on the site. Some are, well, little-known for a reason, and others are good, but not worthy of a special trip. Then there are the restaurants that miss by a very small margin. One example of this type of dining spot is a place I went to recently in historic Pawtuxet, Rhode Island (a part of Cranston, just south of Providence) called L'Attitude Modern Eatery.

L'Attitude, located in the center of Pawtuxet near the water, is a fine restaurant with lots of decent choices on the menu and an atmosphere that is a mix of old-time Italian and townie tavern. The waitstaff there is friendly and efficient, and they have a friendly old dog who wanders around the place, looking longingly at all the plates of food.

While our entrees--pumpkin ravioli in a cream sauce and sauteed chicken were very good, they weren't quite up to the standards of our site. They were close, however, and we may head back there to try other entrees. If L'Attitude's food is just a bit better next time we go, it may end up being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants. But for now, it is one of several restaurants that, in the words of Maxwell Smart, missed by THAT much. Overall, though, I like L'Attitude and appreciate the good service and great atmosphere at this neat little Rhode Island restaurant.

If you are interested in the address for L'Attitude, here it is: L'Attitude Modern Eatery, 2190 Broad Street, Cranston, RI 02905; the phone number is (401) 780-8700.

Related Blog Entries: Cranston restaurants, Rhode Island restaurants

Monday, June 20, 2005
Santarpio's Pizza Versus Pizzeria Regina

photo of Pizzeria Regina, Boston, MA So what pizza place makes the best pizza in Boston? The battle between Santarpio's Pizza in East Boston and Pizzeria Regina in the North End of Boston rages on and on. Many people agree that Santarpio's and Regina's are the top two pizza places in Boston (with all due credit to places like Bianchi's Pizza in Revere, Emma's in Cambridge, and several other pizza places that really stand out), but the two pizza places make pizza that is different enough for pizza lovers to choose sides.

Santarpio's makes a unique thin-crust pizza with lots of corn meal, a burnt crust, and a good amount of sauce. That, and the attitude of the waiters at Santarpio's, plus the old-school atmosphere, make this one pizza place that is anything but generic.

Pizzeria Regina reminds me more of the New York City pizza places; little atmosphere, but fresh, gooey pizza with an amazing crust and fresh sauce and cheese that are a cut above nearly every other pizza place in the Boston area.

So which is my favorite? It's a tossup (no pun intended). I love the attitude that comes with the pizzas at Santarpio's, but I also love the incredible flavors of the pizza at Pizzeria Regina. I guess we're just lucky to have not one, but two great pizza places in Boston.

Here is the address for Santarpio's Pizza if you are looking for it: Santarpio's Pizza, 111 Chelsea Street, East Boston, MA 02128; the phone number is (617) 567-9871.

And here is the address for Pizzeria Regina if you need it: Pizzeria Regina Pizza, 11 Thacher Street, Boston, MA 02113; the phone number is (617) 227-0765.

Related Blog Entries: Boston pizza, pizza places

Friday, June 10, 2005
Boston Restaurants That We Haven't Checked Out Yet

Over the past few months, I have gotten so many suggestions on Boston restaurants that should be included on our Boston restaurant guide that we are starting to get a big backlog of dining spots to get to. I don't know when we will get to these restaurants, so I will mention some of them here. And to all of you who have given these suggestions for the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site, I can't thank you enough. Keep them coming!

Here are the restaurants:

Petit Paris Bistro
Scituate Harbor, MA
An intimate and cozy French bistro in Scituate.

Fire Bull Restaurant
Peabody, MA
A Brazilian rodizio (BBQ restaurant) north of Boston that features a wide variety of meats, as well as fish and pasta, and is open for both lunch and dinner.

Tin Tin Buffet Restaurant
Allston / Brighton, MA
A Chinese buffet restaurant that has a great selection of authentic food at low prices.

Byblos Restaurant
Norwood, MA
A unique little Lebanese restaurant that has entertainment on some nights.

Crawdads North Restaurant
Ipswich, MA
This Cajun restaurant on the North Shore serves everything from catfish to ribs to jambalaya.

Gulu-Gulu Cafe
Lynn, MA
A new cafe in Lynn's Central Square, Gulu-Gulu is a place to get a sandwich and a drink, jump on the laptop (they have a free wireless connection), read the afternoon away, and check out works from local artists.

Trattoria Della Nonna
Mansfield, MA
An Italian restaurant that features Calabrian cuisine, featuring a chef who used to work at the terrific Trattoria Pulcinella in Cambridge.

Hot Off The Press Cafe and Bakery
Charlestown, MA
Near the Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard, this sandwich shop features delicious pressed sandwiches.

Chelsea, MA
Located near the police station, Emily's is an outstanding Italian restaurant that is so hidden that there is almost no information on the place in books or online. Emily's is one of the best restaurants in Chelsea.

Demo's Restaurant
Watertown and Waltham, MA
A pair of quick, friendly, and cheap Greek dining spots west of Boston that have terrific burgers, Greek salads,and many other dishes.

Agawam Diner
Rowley, MA
An excellent diner north of Boston on Route 1 that has been around a very long time.

Again, thanks for the suggestions! Sorry I haven't gotten to these places yet.

MAY, 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Restaurants Near Acadia National Park

Well, just got back from yet another great trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. For those who haven't been to Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park, it is a must-see; high hills and mountains rising from the Atlantic Ocean, dark spruce forests, pristine ponds, and charming villages are just a few of the attractions to this great part of Maine. And, of course, there is no shortage of good restaurants in the Acadia area.

Every year, we try to go to different restaurants when we stay in Northeast Harbor (a quaint village on Mount Desert Island, about 20 minutes from Bar Harbor). And this year was no exception, though we do have our favorite restaurants that we go back to. Anyway, here are the restaurants we went to over the past weekend:

For lunch, we went to China Hill in Ellsworth, a middling Chinese restaurant that would never make it in Boston's Chinatown, but wasn't all that bad, considering this is not an area known for Chinese food.
For dinner, we enjoyed some excellent entrees at the Docksider Restaurant, a seafood shack and ice cream stand which is within walking distance of the Kimball Terrace Inn in Northeast Harbor (where a number of us stay every year). The lobsters at The Docksider were outstanding, and the crabmeat au gratin and burgers were very good, too.

For breakfast, we tried Jordan's Restaurant, which is a bustling townie joint in Bar Harbor. Jordan's is a truly terrific place for a hearty breakfast, and the people who work here are very friendly.
For lunch, we checked out the Little Notch Bread Company and Cafe in Southwest Harbor, a classic fishing village on the other side of Mount Desert Island. This was a pleasant surprise, with healthy, fresh sandwiches and gourmet pizza.
For dinner, we made our second annual trip to the fantastic Lompoc Cafe, which is on a side street behind the center of Bar Harbor. The Lompoc Cafe is a funky little place that serves all kinds of food, including my favorite--a chicken burrito that tastes out of this world. But even better, perhaps, is their chicken fusilli plate.

For breakfast, we had a rather disappointing meal at the Main Sail, which is part of the Kimball Terrace Inn in Northeast Harbor. I really wish they would improve the food at the Main Sail, since The Kimball Terrace Inn is such a great place to stay.
For lunch (on the way back), we basically went to food heaven, also known as Darby's Restaurant and Pub, in the funky, quirky town of Belfast. Darby's, which we also feature on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site, is an amazing place; it's a charming old spot with all types of cuisine, and all of which is outstanding. I only wish Darby's were closer to Boston.

Once again, I ate way too much food, but with nice weather finally coming to Boston, I hope to walk it all off over the next few days. It's always sad to know that there will be no more Acadia trips for another year...or will there? Hmmmm, we'll have to see about that one...

Related Blog Entries: Bar Harbor restaurants, Maine restaurants

Monday, May 23, 2005
Favorite Restaurants Not On This Site

Because Boston's Hidden Restaurants features, well, hidden restaurants, I'm unable to include some of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area. There are so many popular restaurants in the area that I love going to, but cannot add to this site.

photo of the Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, MA So what are some of these popular restaurants that are on my list of favorites? Well, for starters, I really love The Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield. The Salem Cross Inn is a very old, classic New England restaurant on Route 9 that serves all kinds of steak, chicken, and seafood dishes in a very cozy, intimate atmosphere. This is a great place for a quiet date, a fun family gathering, or a large group outing. And it is right in the center of New England, a fairly short distance west of Worcester, so it's not all that far away from most major cities in the region.

Closer to home, I love Helmand in Cambridge, an Afghan restaurant that is considered one of the best dining spots in the Boston area. The food at Helmand is fantastic, the atmosphere is exotic, and the waitstaff is efficient and friendly. The price is right at Helmand, too; in fact, it is extremely reasonable for a restaurant that is considered a bit on the upscale side.

Another place I find myself going to often is Ashley's [ADDED TO SITE IN 2006] in South Braintree. Ashley's is the perfect breakfast place; cheap, quick, and friendly, and with excellent breakfasts that are perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. Ashley's does get crowded on the weekends, but there usually isn't a long wait.

One more place I like a lot is Doyle's in Jamaica Plain. Not so much for the food, which is decent pub grub, but more for the incredibly rich atmosphere. Doyle's is a Boston landmark that has been seen in several movies, and politicians can often be seen here. And Doyle's has an outstanding selection of beers, which is a very good thing!

That's it for now. I'll try to think of some more favorite Boston restaurants soon and report back to everyone...

Sunday, May 8, 2005
Why Are Restaurant Chains So Popular?

Just a few thoughts while watching the unfortunately-named J.J. Putz shut down the Boston Red Sox...

Why is it some of the great Boston restaurants have trouble filling their tables while generic, soulless restaurant chains have hour-long waits night after night? It never ceases to amaze me that I can walk right into any number of fantastic East Watertown restaurants like Sepal [CLOSED], Strip-Ts, or the Aegean, while right around the corner, Bugaboo Creek is moving them in and trucking them out like there's no tomorrow. Now, I have nothing against Bugaboo Creek (and think it's actually one of the better chains), but I simply wonder why people opt for this option when there are better choices within walking distance.

I can't tell you how many times I have driven past a bustling Applebee's, TGI Friday's, or Joe's American Bar and Grill on my way to a totally empty restaurant that blows the doors off these restaurant chains. Why is this? What do people out there think about this? Is it that a place like Applebee's is family-friendly? Is TGI Friday's simply more convenient than individually-owned restaurants? Is Joe's American Bar and Grill less expensive than the ma-and-pa dining spots? Or is it something a bit more ominous, such as the fact that these places and other chains tend to serve food that is especially tasty and addictive due to its high fat content and dubious ingredients?

Obviously, I'm not about to tell someone that they shouldn't go to a Red Lobster or Olive Garden. But I would like to give a few top-notch alternatives to some of the more popular chains. Here they are:

1) Instead of Applebee's, TGI Friday's, or Joe's American Bar and Grill, check out Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington, Amrheins in South Boston, or Silvertone in Boston.

2) Instead of Olive Garden, head over to Abbondanza in Everett, Luciano's in Wrentham, or La Scala in Randolph.

3) Instead of Red Lobster, try Clara's in Franklin, the Village Restaurant in Essex, or Out of the Blue in Somerville.

These are just a few out of hundreds of non-chain options. If you want any other alternatives, post a comment, and I'll try to respond as soon as possible. And by the way, there are some chains that I think are really good, including PF Chang's (Chinese food) and the Cracker Barrel (down-home American cooking). But even in those cases, there are still better options.

Anyone out there who frequents the restaurant chains? If so, I'd love to hear your comments. It would be great to hear both sides of this issue.

Related Blog Entries: restaurant chains