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Boston Restaurant Blog -- June, 2008

Below are blog entries from June, 2008. 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, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
First Time at Oasis Restaurant, Medford

I made my first trip to Oasis Restaurant in South Medford a few weeks ago. I had been trying to get to this Brazilian restaurant for some time now, but haven't had the chance to give it a shot until recently. And while I did not get to try any of their meat dishes (or their buffet), my first impressions of Oasis were pretty favorable.

photo of Oasis Restaurant, Medford, MA Oasis Restaurant is in a neighborhood that used to be nearly all Italian some time ago, but it now a mix of many different ethnicities, including a good number of people from Brazil. This, plus the fact that many Brazilian immigrants have moved into neighboring Somerville and Everett, has helped make this dining spot quite a popular one, and indeed the place was packed with Brazilian couples and families when I arrived a bit after lunchtime. The front room was rather hectic, as many people were waiting in line at the buffet while others (such as myself) were waiting for their takeout orders, and still others were waiting for tables in one of the two dining areas to the right. After about 15 minutes of waiting, I received my order and took it home to eat.

My takeout order was mostly appetizers (it was called the "Vegetarian I" plate on the menu. Nearly everything on the plate was very good except for perhaps the yucca, which was extremely greasy and was falling apart from the grease as I tried to eat it. But the collard greens were tasty, the rice was perfectly seasoned, and the black beans had tons of flavor from the sauce they were in. The plantains kind of grew on me, as initially, they seemed a little on the tough side and rather dry, but I tried the remaining ones the next day (the order was big enough for me to make into two meals), and they tasted really good.

Hopefully, I will soon be heading back to Oasis to try at least a couple of their meat dishes, as they all looked pretty mouthwatering to me while I was waiting for my takeout order to come. As soon as I get back there, I will either post another blog, or, if the food is as good as I think it may be, it may just become a featured dining spot on Boston's Hidden Restaurants.

If you would like the address for Oasis Restaurant, here it is: Oasis Restaurant, 373 Main Street, Medford, MA, 02155. Phone: (781) 396-8337.

Related Blog Entries: Medford restaurants

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Saturday Evening at Piccola Italia, Manchester, NH

A couple of Saturdays ago, we took a ride up to Manchester, NH, to see a Manchester Fisher Cats game (minor league baseball). We had planned on getting to Manchester early, getting a quick dinner, than heading to the ballpark. So with that in mind, we drove downtown and stopped off at an Italian restaurant called Piccola Italia Ristorante about two hours before the start of the game.

photo of Piccola Italia Ristorante, Manchester, NH Piccola Italia had the look of a romantic, slightly upscale Italian dining spot, with a colorful interior, comfortable tables spaced out nicely, and an old-world feel to it. Service was friendly and efficient, prices were mostly good, if a bit high, and the place was quiet and calm. Based on all of this, we felt confident that the food at Piccola Italia would be satisfying and that we could head to the ballpark knowing that we had found a great little dining spot.

Unfortunately, the food at Piccola Italia didn't quite live up to our expectations. The minestrone soup was rather bland, and the vegetables in it seemed to be undercooked. The tortellini soup was even more bland than the minestrone, though the pasta in it was tasty enough. And our meals were not much more than average, as the penne in salsa rosa (penne tossed in pink sauce with parmigiana and romano cheese had a slightly watery sauce and the pasta didn't seem fresh, while the Linguini white clam sauce (chopped clams, garlic and olive oil) had little taste and, once again, the pasta seemed like it might have come out of a box.

This was another one of those places that I really wanted to like, as it had good atmosphere and service, and it felt like one of those old, unpretentious downtown restaurants that you can't seem to find much in the big cities anymore. But in the end, the food was just so-so, making it a trifecta of average Italian restaurants for me over the past couple of weeks (the other two being GioMatti in Braintree and Vinny T's in Lexington). It seems as if I am due for a really good Italian meal one of these days; perhaps it is high time to head into the North End or perhaps East Boston in the days to come...

If you are looking for the address for Piccola Italia, here it is: Piccola Italia Ristorante, 815 Elm Street, Manchester, NH, 03101. Phone: (603) 606-5100.

Related Blog Entries: Italian restaurants, Manchester NH restaurants, New Hampshire restaurants

Monday, June 16, 2008
Prince Pizzeria, Saugus: Still Fun After All These Years

After a couple of years away from the place, I found myself at Prince Pizzeria on Route 1 in Saugus yesterday for Father's Day (along with a group of 7). Prince Pizzeria holds a lot of memories for me, as I used to go there nearly every week growing up, and spent a lot of time there both during and after college as well. But over the past few years, I just haven't been able to get to Prince all that often, so it was especially nice returning to this Saugus institution once again.

photo of Prince Pizzeria, Saugus, MA For those of you who have never been to Prince Pizzeria, it has quite a history, starting up in the early 1960s by Arthur Castraberti, a terrific person who is involved with many charities and who has done a lot for the community over the years. Now owned by his son Steven, Prince Pizzeria (or "Arthur's," as I used to call it) remains little changed today, with a uniquely delicious type of pizza offered and long, communal tables that one no longer seems to find in Boston-area dining spots, and which gives the place a warmth that is lacking from so many present-day restaurants.

We ordered a combination of regular-sized pizzas (13" pies) and mini-sized pizzas (7" pies), as well as some salads. I mainly stuck to my personal favorite at Prince, a pizza that is not even on the menu, but which I have been ordering there for years. And while the margherita pizza is nothing like the kind you might find at a traditional Italian restaurant in Boston or a New York City pizza parlor, its crunchy thin crust, hearty and zesty sauce, and delicious mix of cheeses makes for a pizza that I still consider to be one of my favorites in the area.

It was really nice getting back to Prince Pizzeria yesterday. Sure, it looks a bit tacky from the outside, and yes, it is anything but gourmet dining, but the place feels like an old friend of mine, and one that I hope remains on Route 1 in Saugus for a long time to come.

If you would like the address for Prince Pizzeria, here it is: Prince Pizzeria, 517 Broadway (Route 1), Saugus, MA, 01906. Phone: (781) 233-9950.

Related Blog Entries: pizza places, Saugus restaurants

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Little Q Hotpot, Quincy: Messy, But Outstanding

I have been trying to get to Quincy's Little Q Hotpot for ages it seems, finally having a chance to try it last week. And it was well worth the wait, although I am kicking myself for not having gone there sooner. This rather plain-looking Mongolian restaurant has a lot going for it--tasty and healthy food, "interactive" dining, helpful servers, plenty of seating, and decent prices--and although I made a big mess from start to finish (and probably ruined some of my clothes), it was a truly memorable experience.

photo of Little Q Hotpot, Quincy, MA When we first sat down, we were a bit confused as to what we should actually be doing, but the server helped explain everything to us. You start by choosing a broth (or in our case, two broths using a partitioned pot), then you choose your meats and vegetables as well as what type of noodles you want. Then it is just a matter of heating the broth in the pot that is placed within the table, and placing the food in the pot. For us, the tricky part was knowing how long to put each item in (for instance, veggies might take a few minutes, while meat can take as little as 15 seconds). We did get the hang out it pretty quickly, though as I said earlier, I must have splashed about a pint of broth all over the table and chairs.

The broths we chose at Little Q Hotpot were spicy and herbal, with spicy having much more flavor than the herbal, though the herbal did have a wonderful aroma. For meats, we chose chicken and rib eye, both of which were sliced very thin, making them cook extremely quickly. We also chose clear cellophane noodles, and for veggies, we tried the veggie platter, which had watercress, cabbage, and several other items. Everything was delicious, though the spicy broth continued to heat up (spice-wise) with each minute that passed, and by the end of the meal, it was too hot to use, forcing me to combine it with the herbal broth. Both the chicken and the rib eye were outstanding, though the rib eye had more fat than I was used to, and the watercress made for a nice addition to the herbal broth side of the pot.

As many folks have heard, Little Q Hotpot may be closing at some point over the next few years, as the Burgin Parkway is due to be extended into downtown Quincy. I really hope that they will be able to find a place to move to somewhere in the Boston area, as it is perhaps one of the five best restaurants I have been to this year. In the meantime, I'll be going there until the parkway barrels its way into Quincy, and then I'll keep my fingers crossed that Little Q Hotpot turns up somewhere else as soon as possible.

If you would like the address for Little Q Hotpot, here it is: Little Q Hotpot, 1585 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA, 02169. Phone: (617) 773-5888.

Related Blog Entries: Quincy restaurants

Thursday, June 5, 2008
Basic Old-School Italian at GioMatti, Braintree

I've always been intrigued by all of the old-fashioned restaurants that are located on Route 53 between Weymouth Landing and Quincy Center. Well, the other night, I ended up checking one of them out. And while I wasn't overly impressed by GioMatti, it had a sort of old-world charm to it that you just don't find all that much these days.

photo of GioMatti Ristorante, Braintree, MA GioMatti is located in Braintree, about midway between Weymouth Landing and Quincy. From the outside, it looks like a family restaurant that hasn't changed all that much over the years. And the inside of the restaurant continues this theme, with old carpeting, a stone wall on one side, muted pastel colors throughout the place, and comfortable booths and tables where families and large groups dine. It felt like the kind of place that only locals went to, especially since it is a bit off the beaten path on a stretch of Route 53 that is rather bleak in parts.

After looking at the menu, we decided to split a couple of entrees, starting out beforehand with a decent antipasto. I also had a cup of minestrone soup, which may have been the best item of the night, as it had a deliciously hearty tomato base with a perfect mix of salt, seasonings, and oil. The entrees that we split were not quite as good, as the quattro formaggio pizza was basically just a big circle of cheese that quickly congealed into a rather nasty mess. The pollo sorrentina was a little better, with a nice mix of chicken, prosciutto, porcini ravioli, grilled eggplant, and chopped tomatoes in a light white wine sauce, but the dish wasn't quite as fresh and tasty as I would have liked it. We passed on dessert, as we were much too full to eat another bite.

GioMatti is the kind of place that I want to like, as I have always had a place in my heart for unpretentious, old-school restaurants that regulars frequent. But it was not quite good enough in my opinion, and with Gennaro's and Cronin's just up the street, it is hard to justify returning to this dining spot.

If you would like the address for GioMatti, here it is: GioMatti Ristorante, 462 Quincy Avenue, Braintree, MA, 02184. Phone: (781) 380-8180.

Related Blog Entries: Braintree restaurants, Italian restaurants

Sunday, June 1, 2008
Reminder About Section on Ice Cream Stands

The days (and nights) are getting warmer, so you know what that means; we are rapidly heading into the prime ice cream eating season. And what better place to get a cone than at an old-fashioned ice cream stand?

As many of you know, the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site has an Boston and New England Ice Cream Stands section in its Special Features area. And this year, we have added two ice cream stands to the section, including Captain Dusty's on Route 127 in Beverly Farms. Feel free to look at our ice cream stands section, and please let us know about other places that we should try. Thanks!

Related Blog Entries: ice cream stands