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Boston Restaurant Blog -- March, 2010

Below are blog entries from March, 2010. 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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March, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010
Weekend Dining at Appetito in Newton Centre

Newton Centre isn't quite Moody Street in Waltham, but it has more restaurants than one might think. Some of the spots you'll find in this affluent neighborhood of the city include Cafe St. Petersburg, Coconut Cafe, Pava, Pie Bakery and Cafe, Sapporo, Sol Azteca, Sweet Tomatoes, Tango Mango, Tartufo, and Union Street. And then there is an Italian restaurant on Beacon Street called Appetito that has been around for a pretty long time (more than 15 years), yet still doesn't seem all that well known. Well, we tried the place earlier this month and had quite a nice overall experience, though I feel that the atmosphere may be a bit more of a draw than the food, based on what we ordered.

photo of Appetito, Newton, Massachusetts Appetito is certainly an attractive place, with a slightly dark bar area partitioned off to the right, and a comfortable, colorful dining room to the left with an interesting wall mural showing all kinds of people. The bar section has seating as well (including a long bench seat), though it's not quite as nice as sitting in the main dining area. To the front of the bar area is a display case with such items as salads and desserts in it. Rustic old bronze chandeliers, candlelit tables, and soft music coming through the speakers tend to give a mellow, peaceful feel to the restaurant and bar in general.

We started our meal at Appetito with wine and beer (the beer menu is rather limited, by the way) as well as an antipasto called Piadina Contadino, which included peasant bread, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, and apple and fig jam. The dish was delicious, with a nice mix of sweet, savory, and salty tastes, though there was very little bread on the plate, unfortunately. Our meals soon came to us, with one entree being outstanding while the other was decent but flawed. The Pollo Salcicca was a wonderful dish of sauteed chicken and a richly flavored fennel sausage along with broccoli rabe and mushrooms, all mixed with fresh parmesan cheese and an herbed cream sauce. The other entree--the wild mushroom and fig risotto--didn't approach the greatness of the chicken and sausage dish, as it was excessively watery (when the meal was finished, the bottom quarter of the bowl was filled with liquid), but the flavorful mix of mushrooms and figs helped save the dish a bit. The tiramisu that we had to end our meal was a solid, if unexceptional dessert, and it was just big enough for two. Service was solid throughout, and the prices were maybe a tad high, though by no means outrageously so.

I have been to a number of restaurants of late whose atmosphere seemed to impress me more than the food did, and this was probably the case for Appetito as well. For a quiet, romantic dinner, I would say that this dining spot is a good, solid option for Newton, but for food, I'd probably give the nod to such nearby places as Vecchia Roma or Fiorella's instead.

For those who want the address for Appetito, here it is: Appetito, 761 Beacon Street, Newton, MA, 02459. The phone number is (617) 244-9881.

Related Blog Entries: Italian restaurants, Newton restaurants

Friday, March 19, 2010
Sunday Afternoon at the Pour Judgement Bar and Grill in Newport, RI

Every so often, we try a place outside of the Boston area that is so special that we decide to feature it on this site. And such was the case a few weeks back when we checked out The People's Pint in Greenfield, MA. Well, it just so happened that a couple of weeks ago we tried another pub-style restaurant (this one being in Newport, RI), and while The People's Pint hit a home run in our eyes, the Pour Judgement Bar and Grill came in at a triple, though in some ways, we actually liked it even better than The People's Pint. Never heard of the place? Read on....

photo of Pour Judgement Bar and Grill, Newport, RI If you're coming from Boston via Route 138, the Pour Judgement Bar and Grill is located in a strip of businesses on Broadway that is just before the better-known (and more touristy) part of Newport down by the water. This section of the city is a bit rough around the edges in spots with some rather sketchy-looking bars, and it is indeed easy to lump this place in with them, as the exterior doesn't exactly have the visitor-friendly look of, say, some of the ever-popular Thames Street watering holes closer to the water. But the Pour Judgment is actually a pretty mellow place, with a diverse mix of locals frequenting the place and a classic old pub atmosphere, including an old wooden floor that seemed like it should have sawdust on it, exposed brick walls, a waffle ceiling, a long bar along the left side, a narrow strip of tables along the right side, and a pool table in the back.

Sitting down at one of the tables along the right side of the place, we sipped on a couple of very fine beers (Rogue Chocolate Stout and Cisco Whale's Tale Pale Ale) while listening to some old blues music that was coming through the speakers. We soon ordered an appetizer of Southwest eggrolls that had a savory mix of ingredients (including chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and onions), then dined on a couple of sandwiches--a chicken salad with apricots and almonds, and a cheeseburger. The chicken salad sandwich was the winner here, as the sweet and salty mix of ingredients made for a surprisingly complex dish, with the apricots being a particularly nice touch. The char-grilled burger was satisfying as well, though it could have been seasoned a bit more. The handcut fries were terrific, by the way, as they were golden brown and had a slight crisp to them. We ordered a couple more beers before heading on our way, including an outstanding Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and a decent Newport Storm Winter Porter.

We got just enough of a taste of the Pour Judgement Bar and Grill to realize that this is one of maybe three or four places in Newport that are must-visits on future trips. And if we end up liking it as much as we did this time around, it could end up being one of those outside-of-Boston spots that makes it to a featured review. Either way, I'll certainly be counting the days until we return.

If you would like the address for the Pour Judgement Bar and Grill in Newport, here it is: Pour Judgement Bar and Grill, 32 Broadway, Newport, RI, 02840. The phone number is (401) 619-2115.

Related Blog Entries: Newport restaurants, Rhode Island restaurants

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Five Boston-Area Restaurants With a Bit of History Behind Them

photo of Marliave, Boston, Massachusetts Few major cities in the United States have more in the way of history than Boston does. Indeed, there are countless historic landmarks and structures throughout the city and its suburbs, including some that are known throughout the country. Similarly, a number of restaurants in and around the city are famous in part for being located in historic structures (The Chart House at Long Wharf, for example), but there are plenty of other dining spots that either reside in beautifully restored old buildings or have been in business for a long, long time--in some cases, for more than a century. What are some of these restaurants? Well, we could list pages and pages of such spots, but have limited it to five of the more interesting ones in the Greater Boston area.

MARLIAVE, BOSTON: One of Boston's oldest restaurants (though not continuously running, as they closed for a time awhile back before being reopened by new owners), Marliave in the Downtown Crossing section of the city first started out in 1885. The three-story Bosworth Street space is wonderful for history lovers, especially the middle floor, which includes a cozy bar, a pressed tin ceiling, a cracked black and white mosaic floor, and old-fashioned pendant lamps. The eclectic menu features mostly continental cuisine, including a delicious Welsh rarebit. Address: Marliave, 10 Bosworth Street, Boston, MA, 02113.

MORSE FISH, SOUTH END: One of the oldest continuously running restaurants in Boston happens to be a relatively little-known one, and even for those who know about the place, they may not realize that it has been in business since the start of the 20th century. But Morse Fish on Washington Street just happens to be the oldest fish market in the entire city, dating back to 1901. The little spot is also a restaurant, with all kinds of fried and broiled seafood available to customers for dining in or for takeout. Address: Morse Fish, 1401 Washington Street, Boston MA, 02118.

AMRHEINS RESTAURANT, SOUTH BOSTON: Formerly a classic old-Boston spot that politicians and families from the neighborhood called their home, Amrheins Restaurant near the Broadway T stop in Southie has become a bit trendy and upscale since the dining spot was renovated several years back, but it still has a ton of character. The restaurant, which has been in operation since 1890, features what may be the oldest hand-carved bar in the entire country, and the cozy side room to the left continues to give a taste of the history of the building. Address: 80 West Broadway, South Boston, MA, 02127.

THE LYCEUM, SALEM: Housed in a building that dates back to 1843, The Lyceum resides in what used to be a lecture hall visited by such historic figures as Henry David Thoreau and Alexander Graham Bell. Recently renovated and reopened, The Lyceum is an attractive, casual spot with exposed brick walls, working fireplaces, and a menu that features Mediterranean cuisine. Address: The Lyceum, 43 Church Street, Salem, MA, 01970.

DALYA'S, BEDFORD: A rustic old spot in a section of the Boston area filled with history, Dalya's has the feel of a rural farmhouse (the structure dates back to 1850), with chandeliers, a working fireplace, and antiques giving its dining area a special charm. The menu at Dalya's features mostly Mediterreanan and New American fare, including beef sirloin carpaccio, pappardelle with lobster, seafood stew, and lamb chops. Address: Dalya's, 20 North Road, Bedford, MA, 01730.

The above restaurants give just a taste of what the Boston area has to offer in the way of restaurants with some history behind them. If you have any favorite historic restaurants in the Boston area, please feel free to comment on them here, thanks! [Note: Thanks to Zagat for some of the information included here.]

Related Blog Entries: historic restaurants

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
List of Irish Pubs in the Boston Area

As many of you probably know, we have several pages within our special features section that list restaurants in specific categories, including romantic dining spots, places to eat near Fenway Park, etc. And we also have a list of Irish pubs in the Boston area, many of which are lesser-known than the really popular spots such as The Burren in Somerville or The Black Rose in downtown Boston. Our list includes the names and addresses of a handful of pubs in the area, along with brief descriptions of each spot.

Here is the link to this page: Irish Pubs in Boston

St. Patrick's Day will be here before you know it; have fun (wherever you go), and if you head to any of the pubs shown within our list, let us know what you think!

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
An Offbeat Night at the Jazz Cafe and Bar in Roslindale

Roslindale and neighboring Jamaica Plain have some rather eclectic restaurants, including Geoffrey's in the former and the Centre Street Cafe in the latter, and with the recent opening of the Jazz Cafe and Bar, you can now add one more offbeat place to Roslindale Village. This unusual restaurant is interesting in a number of ways, from its wide array of foods to its maze-like atmosphere to its hidden back bar to its all-over-the-map music selection. But is the food good? Well, if our recent visit to the Jazz Cafe is any indication, the answer is a solid "yes."

photo of Jazz Cafe and Bar, Roslindale, Massachusetts The Jazz Cafe and Bar is located just off of Roslindale Square in a space formerly occupied by NuVo, and before that, Gusto. The surprisingly large restaurant has several dining sections, including a couple of brightly lit areas in the front, a cozy and private-feeling room around the corner and further back, and a little bar still further back in the place which feels almost like someone's living room. All kinds of music are piped into the Jazz Cafe, from top 40 to Creole to soft jazz and more. The menu is as varied and eclectic as the music selection, with Creole, Cajun, Haitian, American, and even Italian cuisine included.

On our recent visit to the Jazz Cafe, we were seated in the cozy room toward the back and started out by ordering, or I should say we tried to order a couple of beers--they were out of three options that we had picked from the menu, finally settling on beers that we weren't all that crazy about having. Along with our drinks, we started with a couple of fresh-tasting Caesar salads and were also given what can only be described as deep-fried red snapper turnovers. The turnovers were, to put it simply, outstanding, with a delicate, slightly nutty flavor coming from the fish and a crunchy exterior that had almost no grease even though they had been deep-fried.

Our entrees and sides, which soon came to us, were every bit as good as the red snapper turnovers. The fried pork, for instance, was heavenly, as the browned pieces of meat had a lot of fat attached (which imparted a ton of flavor), and the tomato-based dipping sauce added even more goodness to each chunk of pork. The fried shrimp (no batter, by the way) was also very satisfying, with tender and moist pieces of shrimp that came with the same tomato-based sauce. Our side order of rice and beans was impressive, though there were relatively few beans and the dark color of the rice made it look suspiciously like the fried rice you might order at a Chinese-American restaurant. We had also ordered some onion rings, and they were pretty greasy, but these thickly-cut rings were so tasty that they were gone in seconds. One rather humorous side note--a group of people were seated next to us just as our dinners arrived, and they were so impressed by how our food looked that they more or less ordered exactly what we had, even pointing to some of the dishes and asking what they were.

The Jazz Cafe and Bar is like no other restaurant we have been to in the Boston area; between its quirky atmosphere and oddly put-together menu, this is perhaps not a restaurant for everybody. But I found it to be quite endearing, and on the way out I found myself wondering when I might be able to get back there again. Well, hopefully it will be soon, as I do want to try some of the other interesting items on the menu (fried goat, stewed chicken, etc.). When we do return, we will be sure to post an update on the site, and who knows? If our next meal is as good as our last one, you may indeed see the Jazz Cafe and Bar being featured as a "hidden gem" at some point in the future.

For those who want the address for the Jazz Cafe, here it is: Jazz Cafe and Bar, 4174 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA 02131. The phone number is (617) 363-0202.

Related Blog Entries: Roslindale restaurants