Salem Wood Cafe (CLOSED)
385 Salem Street, Malden, MA 02148
The general consensus among those in the know is that the best place in the Boston area for steak tips is the New Bridge Cafe in Chelsea. And while it is indeed tough to beat the perfectly marinated tips at that old-fashioned dining spot near the Revere and Everett borders, there are several other places around Boston that come close to the New Bridge in quality, and the little-known Salem Wood Cafe in the Maplewood section of Malden is certainly one of them.
The New Bridge Cafe and the Salem Wood Cafe feel similar in many respects, as both restaurants are homey, well-worn working-class places that cater to those looking for good food cheap, along with a beer or two. Unlike the New Bridge Cafe, however, which is known mainly for its steak and turkey tips, the Salem Wood Cafe has many terrific Italian and American dishes, including a wonderful veal parmigiana with tender, fresh veal over a boatload of pasta in a mouthwatering homemade sauce, as well as a chicken parmigiana that comes with a tender chicken cutlet that is so large that two--or even three--meals can be gotten out of one serving. (The eggplant parm is also very nice, with lots of bubbling cheese on top and thinly-sliced eggplant.) Another excellent entree at the Salem Wood is a dish called rottellini, which is a type of lasagna with the pasta sheets folded into 3 or 4 roundish pieces, with cheese and sauce layered within each piece. If you like ravioli, this is a good place to get them, as they are tender, plump, and so large that you need to cut them into two--if not four--pieces. A mixed grill plate include steak tips and marinated chicken as well as some of the tastiest grilled Italian sausage you'll find in the Boston area. The menu also includes such standards as burgers, seafood scampi, baked stuffed haddock, and sirloin steak. But the steak tips may be the best item on the menu, and you can get them with sweet potatoes, which may sound a bit unusual, but they seem to go perfectly with the tips.
The Salem Wood Cafe may not look like much from the outside, but it seems that many restaurants that serve great steak tips are similarly plain and unassuming (such as the aforementioned New Bridge Cafe as well as Cronin's Publick House in Quincy and Joe Sent Me in North Cambridge. As they say, you can't judge a book by its cover, and this surely does apply to Malden's terrific Salem Wood Cafe.
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