Steve’s House of Pizza – Bedford, Massachusetts

Steve's House of Pizza, home of the very best tuna sub in the universe

Steve's House of Pizza, home of the very best tuna sub in the universe

Memories
Pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories
Sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touch them and they burst apart with sweet memories
- The Lettermen, 1969

Memory–our ability to recall information, personal experiences and processes–isn’t always reliable or necessarily as sweet as The Lettermen might have you believe.  Memory has, in fact, been shown to be very fallible.  Studies have concluded that memories are often constructed after the fact and that they’re often based as much, if not more, on our emotional state at the time as they are the actual experience being committed to memory.

While stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, I had so many tuna grinders (what New Englanders call subs) from Steve’s House of Pizza in nearby Bedford, Massachusetts, that my great friend Paul Venne told me I’d soon grow gills.  While my friends and colleagues were bingeing on Big Macs and wolfing down Whoppers, weekly (at least) visits to Steve’s sustained me.

Leaving Massachusetts I pined for those grinders for more than twenty-years.  Could a simple grinder really have been as good as my taste buds remembered it to be?  In 1999, I had the great fortune to re-visit Steve’s and confirmed the tuna grinders were as good as my memories told me they were.  Best of all, I shared Steve’s wonderful tuna grinders with my Kim who was nearly equally captivated by the amazing things the Greek proprietors could do in transforming simple tuna to the realm of sublime.

The ovens which have been preparing perfect sandwiches for generations

The ovens which have been preparing perfect sandwiches for generations

Upon returning to Albuquerque, we called Steve’s crew and asked for the recipe for those superb subs.  My tale of woe and of love unrequited by any tuna sub other than Steve’s must have impressed them because I didn’t have to beg, plead, cajole or even bribe them for the recipe.

Alas, there is a triumvirate of things Steve’s couldn’t give us–the heavy duty, high volume, fast recovery Blodgett pizza oven in which the grinder rolls are heated; the cloud-like grinder rolls unique to the East Coast and most importantly, the tuna which tantalized my taste buds for two years.  As such, we were unable to duplicate the magic though we have made better tuna grinders than we used to.

Even though Steve’s House of Pizza has had three different owners since the restaurant opened just a few years before I landed in Massachusetts in 1977, it has also had amazing continuity.  The recipes were handed down with every change of ownership and are still in use today.  The current owner (pictured above), like the original owner, is Greek and has the same gregarious nature.  He was thrilled when I recounted my experiences at Steve’s some thirty years previous and even happier when the tuna grinder he personally prepared for me met my expectations and then some.

The best tuna sub in the universe and beyond

The best tuna sub in the universe and beyond

So what makes this the best tuna grinder in the world, at least in my estimation?  It’s not only the aforementioned Blodgett oven or the fact that it toasts each grinder roll to absolute perfection so that the outside crust is just discernibly hard and the inside is delicate and light.  It’s not only the oil packed tuna adorned only with salt and pepper and with just enough mayo to bind it all.  It’s not only the shredded lettuce and white onion embellishment that dressed every grinder I ever had.  It’s a combination of the above and more.

Tuna is a rich and meaty fish with a nice amount of fat for flavor.  It is very high in protein as well as in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids.  It’s no wonder flocks of seagulls follow the tuna boats as they came near shore in Gloucester, one of my favorite haunts for fresh seafood.

Though the name on the marquee is Steve’s House of Pizza, a high volume of the walk-in or call-in traffic is for excellent grinders.  Steve’s introduced me to pastrami, another of my life’s passions.  It introduced me to scrambled egg grinders (available with pepper, ham, and pepperoni) which are available for lunch and dinner, too.  More than any other restaurant in Massachusetts, Steve’s allayed my longing for green chile…though I often fantasize about having one of those tuna grinders with New Mexico’s favorite fruit.

A cheese pizza from Steve's House of Pizza

A cheese pizza from Steve's House of Pizza

Having grown up in the remote mountains of Northern New Mexico,  I was essentially a culinary virgin.  Until my years in Massachusetts, the only only pizza I had ever eaten outside of Pizza Hut was out of the box, a wafer thin Chef Boyardee product with a cardboard-like crust. Is it any wonder Pizza Hut was my baseline for good pizza?

Steve’s House of Pizza also introduced me to very good pizza Greek style.  Greek style means a drizzle of olive oil across the top.  Add pepperoni and its grease might make the pizza a bit, shall we say…moist.  Steve’s serves a thin crust pizza with a generous portion of cheese and a sweet-savory tomato sauce with a nice application of garlic.  The crust is crunchy around the edges and doesn’t fold over in the style of New York pizza.  Alas, I didn’t sample it during either of our two September, 2009 visits, but Kim did and she liked it, though she kept reaching over for bites of my tuna sub.

Those visits in 2009 validated that memories can indeed be sweet, accurate and absolutely delicious.

Steve’s House of Pizza
30 Shawsheen Avenue, Suite 11
Bedford, Massachusetts
(781) 275-2419
1st VISIT: 22 September 2009
LATEST VISIT: 25 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 21
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Tuna Sub, Pastrami Sub, Italian Sub, Pizza

Mario’s Italian Restaurant – Lexington, Massachusetts

Mario's Italian Restaurant in Lexington, Massachusetts

Mario's Italian Restaurant in Lexington, Massachusetts

“People think Chef Boyardee is a great man. I think he’s nothing but a pasta hater.
What true lover of pasta could turn it into mush and shove it in a can? That’s not pasta. That’s just plain wrong.”
~ Author Unknown

Chef Boyardee and I go way back.  As mentioned (hopefully not ad-nauseam) on this blog, my arcadian upbringing in Northern New Mexico did not include a lot of Italian food–or at least the real stuff.  The first pizza my brothers and sisters ever had was way back in the dinosaur days before there was a Pizza Hut around every corner and a Tombstone pizza in every freezer.  It was courtesy of Chef Boyardee and it came in a box with pizza flour mix in a hermetically sealed bag, a can of grated cheese and a can of “true Italian sauce from chef’s own recipe.”

Chef Boyardee pizza didn’t “make our faces light up” when we saw “America’s favorite pizza–Chef Boyardee pizza“–slide out of the oven as it did the family depicted on the commercials.  It looked like a strange, oversized tortilla slathered with tomato sauce.  If possible, it actually tasted worse than it looked.  Perhaps because of the altitude (8,000 feet), the pizza didn’t exactly have the “crunchy crust outside” and wasn’t “so tender inside” as commercials depicted it.  Rather the crust was cracker-like and the sauce akin to a thick, overly-seasoned tomato sauce.

Chef Boyardee’s culinary creations next crossed my lips in 1984 while living in Swindon, England.  Often too lazy to cook for myself during my last carefree year of bachelorhood, I indulged on a diet of breakfast cereal (Jerry Seinfeld would be proud) and Chef Boyardee canned pastas.  That is until I told Kim, then my fiancee who made me promise to “give up that crap.”   Though it took considerably more effort, I began over-compensating by preparing such dishes as paella.

Italian bread and butter at Mario's

Italian bread and butter at Mario's

But, I digress.  In 1977 I moved to Bedford, Massachusetts, a town incorporated in 1729 and about fifteen miles northwest of Boston.  A world of new and different culinary delights began the education of my virginal taste buds.  Instead of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks, I was dining on lobster and fried clams.  The enticing aromas and exotic flavors of Chinese food and the malodorous emanation of fermented kimchi were practically extraterrestrial to me, but like the proverbial kid in a candy store, I tried everything.  Perhaps more surprisingly, I liked everything.

Italian food–real Italian food–was my favorite and no one in the Bedford area did it better than Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Walking into Mario’s was like walking into heaven.  The olfactory arousing bouquet of pastas simmering in a perfect marriage of tomato sauce, garlic, basil and oregano greeted you before the door like a sumptuous siren’s call.  Mario’s was but five or six years old at the time, but a very popular dining destination for incomparable lasagna and a unique twist on baked ziti.  Many of the entrees were served in casserole dishes, something else this culinary virgin had never before experienced.

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, Mario’s meant not having to navigate the maddening cavalcades of traffic all the way to Boston’s North End for terrific Italian food.  Mario’s was a welcome respite from the rigors of the work day.  It was a relaxing milieu in which the service was exquisite and food was served hot and in family-sized portions.

Lasagna at Mario's

Lasagna at Mario's

During our 2009 vacation to the Boston area, we were determined to eat nothing but Italian food and seafood.  That meant a trip to Mario’s was an absolute must.  Despite a thirty year span between visits, our rental car hastened through traffic as if on auto-pilot and speed.  We would pay tourist tribute to the famous Lexington Minuteman statue later; nothing would deter us from Mario’s.

One step in the door and was as if nothing had changed in thirty years.  Mario’s familiar brick facade gave way to a narrow corridor which leads to the hostess station from which a friendly attendant will escort you to your table, complete with red and white checkerboard table cloth.  Perusing the menu was a futile exercise in familiarity because we knew what we were going to have.  It’s what just about everybody who visits Mario’s has.

But first, a basket of thinly sliced Italian bread with foil-wrapped butter was delivered to our table.  It’s always best to save a slice or three to use for sopping up the surplus tomato sauces for which Mario’s is known, but a slice or two with butter will abate your hunger.

A unique baked ziti at Mario's

A unique baked ziti at Mario's

The first “must have” entree is lasagna with sausage.  The lasagna is a thick, brick-sized slab of noodles and ricotta cheese topped with a meaty marinara sauce.  The sausage is actually served on the side and, like the lasagna, is drenched in the meaty marinara sauce.  It is a wonderful sausage with a discernible hint of fennel and other Italian seasonings.

There are several things that make this lasagna special.  First of all, it’s served steaming hot, but not at the expense of “rubberizing” the lasagna noodles.  The ricotta is rich, but not overly so.  The sauce has a rich, tomatoey flavor that accentuates the sweetness of tomatoes, not the acidity.  It is Italian comfort food at its best.

Commonly known as Greek Lasagna, Baked Ziti is a base layer of pasta seasoned ground beef with tomato sauce, topped with a creamy cheese Béchamel Sauce all cooked to a golden brown.  It is the most popular entree at Mario’s, but unlike ziti at other restaurants, it’s served slab-style similar to traditional lasagna.  Instead of traditional ziti pasta, it is made with lasagna noodles.  Top it with Mario’s magnificent meat sauce and you’ve got maybe the best ziti around.

Italian sausage at Mario's

Italian sausage at Mario's

Mario’s makes returning to the Bedford-Concord-Lexington area feel like coming home.  It won’t take me another thirty years to make that return trip home to the restaurant which introduced me to real Italian food.

Mario’s Italian Restaurant
1733 Massachusetts Ave
Lexington, Massachusetts
(781) 861-1182
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 25 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Lasagna with Sausage, Baked Ziti

Woodman’s of Essex – Essex, Massachusetts

Woodmans01

Woodman's of Essex, inventor of the fried clam

If you can imagine what New Mexico would be like without green chile or the South without barbecue, you can understand what New England would be without fried clams.  Like our beloved green chile, fried clams are an iconic food, so much so that they are almost synonymous with states like Maine and Massachusetts in which they are harvested and sold.  It’s almost a wonder the license plate mottos in at least one of those two states isn’t “The Fried Clam State.”

As with our cherished chile, fried clams have a distinctive, unforgettable flavor that not everybody “gets.”  Similar to chile, those who love fried clams are usually ensnared at first bite by this distinctly delicious delicacy.  Like green chile, they are positively addictive and have a flavor that once enjoyed imprints itself indelibly upon your taste buds and your memories.

There is some dispute as to the progenitor of fried clams.  They were on the menu at Boston’s hallowed Parker House in 1865 though there is no indication if they were deep-fried or batter-dipped.  The Parker House is already credited with having invented Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls, so posterity doesn’t seem to mind that someone else is ascribed with having “invented” fried clams.

Woodman's of Essex, a marshland oasis in Massachusetts

Woodman's of Essex, a marshland oasis in Massachusetts

That would be Woodman’s of Essex, a Yankee tradition since 1914.  History relates that July 3, 1916 was a very slow business day for the little roadside stand in Essex, Massachusetts owned by Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman.  A local fisherman enjoying homemade potato chips at the stand noticed a bucket of clams nearby and jokingly suggested that they be fried up.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Chubby and his wife Bessie shucked some clams out of the shell, experimented with different batters and had some locals taste-test their new offering.  The unanimous verdict was “delicious.”  The following day, during the Fourth of July parade, Chubby and Bessie presented the “first” fried clams to the local citizenry.  What started off as a serendipitous suggestion changed the Yankee appetite.

About ten years thereafter, the owner of an eponymous restaurant chain named Howard Johnson visited Essex to learn how to fry clams directly from Chubby.  Howard Johnson’s and its familiar orange roof was a familiar sight along the highways and byways of America throughout much of the twentieth century.  “HoJo’s” conceptualized signature menu items such as 28 ice cream flavors, cultivating an image that it was a very special, homey place.  One of its most popular offerings was fried clams.  A centralized commissary and the processing and pre-portioning of foods gave Howard Johnson’s the advantage of consistency–an inland Howard Johnson’s served fried clams that tasted exactly the same as those served at Cape Cod.

A feast of fried clams, onion rings and French fries

A feast of fried clams, onion rings and French fries

In 1979, I moved back to New Mexico after two years in Massachusetts where I made frequent trips to Woodman’s of Essex and other shrines to sumptuous seafood.  Like chipmunk cheeks stuffed with nuts and acorns, mine were often filled with fried clams which I loved intensely.

Alas, my first visit to Howard Johnson’s on Eubank proved a very disappointing venture of unrequited love.  Instead of the plump, sweet and miraculously delicious whole bellied clams I had fallen in love with, HoJo’s served “clam strips,” what my favorite clam shacks in New England might have discarded entirely.  According to a New York Times article in 2005, the clam strips served at Howard Johnson’s were “made from the tongues of enormous sea clams whose bodies were used as the base for the restaurant’s famous clam chowder.”  It’s no wonder I didn’t like them.

Rather than subject myself to clam strips which might tarnish my memories, I committed to eating only the real thing.  Fried clams, however, are not easy to find in the West.  In fact, only in Las Vegas, Nevada have I been able to find fried clams that approximated those from New England.  Still, it’s difficult to get excited about fried clams in a faux nautical ambience when it’s over the century mark outside.

Fried lobster claws at Woodman's of Essex

Fried lobster claws at Woodman's of Essex

Not much has changed at Woodman’s of Essex since my last visit in 1979 although the advent of the communication age has made it a world renown destination which Zagat calls “a cult classic–right up there with baseball and apple pie.”  The list of publications which have honored the restaurant would fill a book.  We were more concerned with filling our bellies and the Holy Grail for fried clams excels at this.

The “Chubby’s Original” fried clams are blondish whole-bellied beauties served with onion rings and French fries.  The clams are big, shapeless entanglements which you might have to separate.  The texture of the crust is just light enough to provide a discernible crunch that leads to a velvety interior where the real flavor of fried clams lies.  There is nothing like fried clams!  Nothing!  Woodman’s are among the very best.

The Woodman’s menu features far more than fried clams–like the hard-to-find fried lobster tails.  The light batter allows the flavor of lobster to shine.  As with conventional boiled lobster, the fried lobster tails are served with warm butter, perfect for dipping the sweet, meaty king of seafood.  Tartar sauce is served on the side, but anything other than butter is considered a desecration.

The derivation of the term “happy as a clam” might be attributed to the fact that open clams give the appearance of smiling.   Woodman’s of Essex and its fabulous fried clams have been making diners as happy as a clam for nearly a century.

Woodman’s of Essex
121 Main Street
Essex, Massachusetts
978-768-6057
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 23 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 24
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET:  Fried Clams, Fried Lobster Claws, Chocolate Frappe

Union Oyster House – Boston, Massachusetts

Union Oyster House in Boston, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America

Union Oyster House in Boston, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America

The Union Oyster House, in continuous operation since 1826, is not only the oldest restaurant in Boston, it’s the oldest restaurant in continuous service in America.  In fact, it’s housed in a building which predates the American Revolution.  Union Street in which it is situated was laid out in 1626 and while there are no municipal records documenting the Oyster House’s construction, there is more than anecdotal evidence that it was built as early as the 1710s.

A major landmark for more than a quarter millennium, the Union Oyster House is not officially one of the sixteen nationally significant historic sites that comprise the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you through treasured American landmarks.  Still many regard it on nearly equal stature as the unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, a ship and historic markets that recount the story of the American Revolution and which comprise the Freedom Trail.  In fact, no excursion along the Freedom Trail would be complete without a slight detour to the Union Oyster House.

Originally named the “Atwood and Bacon Oyster House” after its founding owners, it was launched when an oyster obsession swept across the colonies.  A New York restaurant had begun serving oysters in 1763 and colonists were hooked.  Oyster restaurants and bars were the trendy “see and be seen” places, launching throughout New England.  While most of its contemporaries have long been out of business, the Union Oyster House remains a Boston treasure not only for oysters, but for fresh off-the-boat seafood.

More than 4,000 oysters are shucked at the oyster bar each day

More than 4,000 oysters are shucked at the oyster bar each day

The decor holds fast to tradition, retaining an old-fashioned tavern appearance much as it probably did two and a half centuries ago.  That means weathered wood paneling and distressed wood floors which creak slightly as you tread lightly over them.  Nearest to the main entrance is the oyster bar in which veteran shuckers extricate some four-thousand oysters daily from their briny shells.  Much like a sushi chef at a sushi bar, the shuckers hold court for patrons who sit in this area, frequently stopping their deft work to take photographs for visitors in between slurps of fresh littlenecks, steamers and cherrystones, the bivalves of choice here.

Daniel Webster, the 14th American Secretary of State renown for his oratory prowess was a frequent visitor to the oyster bar, stopping by daily for a tall tumbler of brandy and water with each plate of six oysters.  His typical consumption was six plates of oysters with the accompanying six glasses of brandy.

President John F. Kennedy preferred lobster stew which he enjoyed in a booth (now named for him) he claimed as his own in the upstairs dining room.  Today guests who present a JFK Museum admission stub at the Union Oyster House will receive a free cup of clam chowder with the purchase of a lunch or dinner entrée.

A cart from days of yore at the Union Oyster House

A cart from days of yore at the Union Oyster House

Celebrities, politicians, tourists and locals still rub shoulders in the popular restaurant where they slurp down oysters, tuck in their lobster bibs and dine on succulent seafood that continues to win “best of” awards.  Some foodies will argue, however, that the Union Oyster House is mostly a tourist trap, a place to be experienced much like a tourist would any Freedom trail relic.  Whatever the case, it’s the only restaurant in America where visitors can boast of dining at the oldest continually operating dining establishment in the fruited plain.

The atmosphere remains casual with comfortable seating and warm, inviting lighting.  It’s a rare restaurant in that it also serves as a veritable museum with venerable memorabilia displayed throughout.  Although the entire restaurant could probably be peppered with accolades from magazines and newspapers, only one “I love me” wall is dedicated for such.  Instead, the walls include placards honoring some of the dignitaries who frequented the restaurant, complete with portraiture.

Being a part of history just goes with the restaurant giving America some of its firsts–such as the first waitress (Rose Carey) who worked there starting in the early 1920s. Her picture is on the wall on the stairway up to the second floor.  The Oyster House is also reputed to have popularized the toothpick.

Corn bread at the Union Oyster House

Corn bread at the Union Oyster House

The menu is replete with traditional New England fare, sometimes known as Yankee cooking.  It includes seafood, poultry, steak, chops and Boston staples such as baked beans and Indian pudding.  Many diners come for the name on the marquee, oysters as fresh as when they were plucked from the beach, but there are other shellfish available, too.  Shelled mollusks include clams (the steamers are especially good), mussels, scallops and of course, the oyster.  Crustacean favorites lobster and shrimp are available, too.

Lobsters go from the restaurant’s own lobster pools onto steaming pots and can be served in several ways: the Union Special Lobster (baked with New England seafood stuffing topped with its claw’s “lazyman’s style); Lazy Man’s Lobster (chunks of lobster meat baked with seasoned bread crumbs served casserole style); Lobster Scampi; Lobster Newburg; Lobster Ravioli and an American Bouillabaisse replete with lobster, steamers, mussels, fish and more.

Many visitors opt for the traditional Shore Dinner, a New England traditional favorite offered by seafood shacks throughout the coast.  The feast starts with clam chowder coupled with an oversized platter brimming with steamers, a boiled or broiled lobster (your preference) all served with sweet native corn on the cob and steaming red potatoes.  Dessert is your choice of hot Indian pudding (dessert porridge made from cornmeal and molasses served warm) or gingerbread.  Indian pudding is an acquired taste, but it’s the essence of a Yankee dessert and should not be missed.

Lobster Roll at the Union Oyster House

Lobster Roll at the Union Oyster House

Another popular way to have your lobster is in a lobster salad roll, served on a lightly toasted, ephemerally soft and delicate split top roll.  As delicate as it is, it is formidable enough to hold the lobster meat which engorges it.  At least eight ounces of succulent, heaping hunks of lobster meat dressed with mayonnaise and celery is stuffed into each roll.  It’s an excellent lobster roll, literally an edible work of art.  This sandwich is served with French fries, coleslaw and a sliced pickle, none of which distinguish themselves much.

Shortly after you place your order, the wait staff will deliver a slab of cornbread with spreadable butter.  The cornbread is one of those surprising traditions adhered to by some of Boston’s oldest restaurants (Durgin Park included).  It’s a sweet cornbread imbued lightly with honey.  The butter also has the faint flavor of honey, making this a doubly delicious.

If you’re going to have a light meal at the Union Oyster House, it should include its famous clam chowder: potatoes, clam juice, freshly cooked and diced clams, onions, salt pork, butter, flour, half-and-half, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  It’s a far better clam chowder than we had at the Kingfish Hall.  It is both creamy and chunky, redolent with flavor and served steaming hot.  Some consider the Union Oyster House THE place for clam chowder and it would be hard to argue against that.

Clam Chowder at the Union Oyster House

Clam Chowder at the Union Oyster House

Largely because of its proximity to Fanueil Hall and its bustling marketplace environment, the Union Oyster House suffers slightly from the perception that it’s just another Boston tourist attraction.  It’s only natural that tourists would flock to this historical haven for seafood, but locals love it, too.  It was one of the very first seafood restaurants I visited when living in Boston more than three decades ago and it’s comforting to believe it will be around at least another thirty or forty decades.

Union Oyster House
41 Union Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 227-2750
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 21 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 21
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET:  Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse – Boston, Massachusetts

Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse in Boston

Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse in Boston

“When I talk about a great dish, I often get goose bumps. I’m like, whoa, I’ll never forget that one.
The Italians are just like that. It’s not all about food. It’s part of the memory.”

~Mario Batali

When discussing my upcoming trip to Boston with Dave Hurayt, it evoked a nostalgic sentiment in a fellow gastronome whose opinion on food I respect.  As a graduate student matriculating at one of the fine universities in the “Cradle of Modern America,” Dave knew where his priorities lay.  Academic pursuits aside, Dave’s priorities included discovering the best restaurants in Boston, a pursuit I engaged in myself when living there from 1977-1979.

One of Dave’s favorite Boston restaurants was Davio’s which he describes as being “as perfect as anything you’re likely to find here or in italy, Boston having some of the best Italian restaurants this side of Napoli.”  Dave remembered the pasta as “floating off the plate” and “incredibly lovely,” “as good as anything I ate in Italy.”  All rousing endorsements, indeed, but what sold me on a visit to his favorite Italian restaurant were his comparisons to an Italian grandmother’s cooking.  When someone evokes the “grandma sphere” you’ve got to listen.

Focaccia Bread with an eggplant tomato relish, hot pepper goat cheese and Kalamata olives

Focaccia Bread with an eggplant tomato relish, hot pepper goat cheese and Kalamata olives

Davio’s does indeed have an impressive pedigree.  Where The Locals Eat, the self-proclaimed “Web’s only guide to the 100 best local restaurants, reviews, and ratings for America’s top 50 cities” named Davio’s the “Best Italian” restaurant in Boston.  Considering the plethora of outstanding Italian restaurants in Boston, that’s an amazing accolade, made even more impressive by the fact that Davio’s isn’t within the confines of Boston’s North End, sometimes called “Little Italy,” a vibrant and thriving neighborhood replete with restaurants, most of them Italian.

Davio’s is on the fringes of the Theater District and within easy walking distance of Boston Common, one of America’s first public parks, founded in 1634.  Even at its first site on Newbury Street, Davio’s was several miles away from Boston’s North End, an illustration that not all of Boston’s fabulous Italian restaurants are clustered in one small section of the city.  The new instantiation of Davio’s occupies the first floor of the Paine Furniture Building.  In fact its window frontage more closely resembles an upscale jewelry store than it does a restaurant.  There’s absolutely nothing gaudy or flamboyant about the signage.

Step inside, however, and class shows.  The welcome area includes comfortable couches and booths which provide an excellent vantage point from which to gawk at the power-suits walking in.  The sprawling 9,000 square-food restaurant is a marvel with its high ceilings, massive columns, cornice moldings, hardwood floors and eighteen-foot windows.  The most brightly illuminated area is the restaurant’s focal point, an enormous open kitchen which fronts a bakery in which both pastry chef and bread baker prepare all the desserts and breads.

Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil

Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil

One of the reviews I read about Davio’s pointed out the “palpable energy here, a pride of place.”  From the moment we walked in, everyone–from the greeters to the wait staff–seemed to make it their personal mission to ensure we had more than a great meal, but a great experience, the type of which inspired the Mario Batali quote with which I started this review.

The tables are sheathed in perfectly starched white tablecloths.  Place settings are perfectly situated and follow that complicated protocol which dictates where the salad fork is set relative to the butter knife.  For a guy who considers the spoon an all-purpose utensil, it’s something I appreciate, but don’t exactly understand.

Davio’s menu is the perfect compromise when the Italophile and the carnivore dine together.  It presents a sophisticated take on the very best Italian dishes as well as steakhouse classics with a menu that is includes elements both elaborate and simple.  It’s a menu that inspires double-takes and more than twice the normal time to decide because there are so many tempting items beckoning you.

Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Chop, Blood Orange Shallot Marmalatta,  Parmigiano Potato Puffs

Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Chop, Blood Orange Shallot Marmalatta, Parmigiano Potato Puffs

While you contemplate the menu, a beautifully appointed wire basket of bread will be delivered to your table.  It’s the type of bread for which you’d gladly pay steep appetizer prices.  Accompanying the thickly sliced Italian bread is a tri-sectioned relish plate of complementary black and green olives, an eggplant-tomato relish and a hot goat cheese infiltrated with a tinge of red pepper.

It’s not often bread makes the type of impression this one did.  The bread is wonderfully airy and sliced so that the only crust encumbering your enjoyment is at its top and bottom.  Its sliced thickly enough so that you can spread a sheen of the just discernibly piquant goat cheese and top that with the eggplant-tomato tapenade.  This is a winning combination.

From the Insalate section of the menu comes the best plate of bufala mozzarella, vineripe tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil I can remember having.  What made this plate stand out is the utter freshness permeating every single morsel.  The bufala mozzarella, made from the milk of domestic water buffaloes rather than from cow’s milk, is rich and creamy and when you cut into it, releases a white liquid with a bouquet of milk enzymes.  Unlike some mozzarella whose primarily benefit is adding texture, bufala mozzarella has a discernibly wonderful flavor.

Fresh Rigatoni, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Green Garlic, Arugula, Burrata Cheese

Fresh Rigatoni, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Green Garlic, Arugula, Burrata Cheese

The plate includes two vineripe tomatoes, one with a reddish hue and the other more orange than red.  Both are sweet and mildly acidic, but what was most impressive is their freshness.  They have a farmer’s market quality.  Ditto for the basil which has that lively quality more than vaguely reminiscent of menthol or spearmint.  The flavor combinations are inspired.

As an Italian Steakhouse, Davio’s combines the very best of both, offering chophouse quality meats with world-class Italian food.  The caserecci (Italian for homemade) menu includes everything from grilled seasonal vegetables to pan-roasted lobster.  For the meat lover, porcine perfection is available in the form of a grilled Niman Ranch pork chop glazed with a blood orange shallot marmalatta served with parmigiana potato puffs.  The parmigiana potato puffs are melt-in-your-mouth light and fluffy, almost cloud-like in their texture.  Alas, only three accompanied the chop; another nine would have been perfect.

The pork chop is substantial, easily an inch and a half thick yet the grill master managed to prepare it to my exacting specifications. At medium, the edges are well-crusted with a nice crispy char imbued with the fragrance of wood smoke. Cut into it and there is just a hint of pink with all the juiciness you want from a pork chop.  Amazingly the blood orange shallot marmalatta penetrated the thick pork chop, imparting a tangy-sweet flavor combination that melds beautifully with the savory pork.  Not only was it an outstanding marmalade, it would have made a great salad dressing, dessert topping, maybe even beverage.

Cubed Banana Croissant with Banana Ice Cream

Cubed Banana Croissant with Banana Ice Cream

Having never had pasta which “floated off the plate” as Dave described it, we were presented with an array of arousing options.  Calling loudest was an entree from the Farinacei (fine meal made of wheat flour) section of the menu: fresh rigatoni, oven roasted tomatoes, green garlic, arugula and Burrata cheese.  What a dazzling combination of complementary and contrasting flavor components.

First there’s the pasta, a culvert sized noodle prepared to al-dente perfection.  The burrata, an unnaturally soft, fresh Italian cheese made from cream and mozzarella, is ethereal in its texture.  The peppery and nutty wilted arugula brings a zesty flavor that catches your attention and teases your taste buds.  The green garlic is milder than its mature counterpart and with little of the characteristic bitterness of clove garlic.

The flavor profile is out of this world, definitely something that floated off the plate, fortunately not to the heavens, but to our awaiting mouths.  This is simply one of the very best pasta dishes we’ve ever had, an antithesis to the red sauce we dearly love.  Thank you Dave Hurayt!

Warm Chocolate Cake with a Molten Chocolate Center and Vanilla Ice Cream

Warm Chocolate Cake with a Molten Chocolate Center and Vanilla Ice Cream

Although portions are substantial and filling, you’ve absolutely got to leave room (loosen your belt, undo a button, unzip your fly a little if you have to) for dessert.  The dessert tray of homemade confections is sinfully good even though some of the desserts are simply named, not christened with some descriptive name that fails to live up to its billing.  Take for example the warm chocolate cake, a muffin shaped cake with molten insides.  The thermal heat of the molten chocolate inside the cake is cooled off with a scoop of frigid vanilla ice cream.  This is a rich, truly wonderful dessert.

Better is the banana chocolate bread pudding, a cubed banana croissant with sliced bananas in a rum-laced custard.  Wholly unlike any bread pudding we’ve ever had, it’s the type of dessert that will have you closing your eyes and luxuriating in the purity of its goodness.  It’s a dessert you’ll want to savor slowly so as to take it all in and not miss a morsel.  Much like the rest of our meal at Davio’s, it’s something about which we’ll reflect longingly for a long time.  I can fully understand how Dave feels about this restaurant.

Dining at Davio’s isn’t solely about having an extraordinary meal.  It’s about creating a memorable experience you’ll cherish, the type of experience which will elicit swoons and smiles when you reflect upon it.

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse
75 Arlington Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 357-4810
LATEST VISIT: 21 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 26
COST: $$$ – $$$$$
BEST BET:  Bufala Mozzarella, Vineripe Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Olive Oil; Fresh Rigatoni, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Green Garlic, Arugula, Burrata Cheese; Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Chop, Blood Orange Shallot, Marmalatta, Parmigiano Potato Puffs; Warm Chocolate Cake With Molten Center; Cubed Banana Croissant

Mike’s Pastry – Boston, Massachusetts

Mike's Pastry on Boston's North End, the Italian Section

Mike's Pastry on Boston's North End, the Italian Section

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the founder of the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th century, called America the “Utopian product of a culturally and racially mixed “smelting pot.”  Melting pot rapidly became one of the most frequently used metaphors for describing America.  The term describes the fusion of different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and cultures to form a new, ostensibly better community, a heterogeneous whole.

Implicit in the term melting pot is the way ingredients in the pot combine so as to subord (but not lose entirely) their discrete identities, yielding a final product with a more uniform flavor and consistency, but which is distinctly different from the original components.  It’s the reason Italian neighborhoods in America have some semblance to, but aren’t exactly like their tight-knit counterparts in the mother country. It’s the reason Italian food in America bears an unmistakable likeness to Italian food in the old country, while being discernibly different.

It’s a tribute to the miracle of Democracy called America that entire cultures can integrate into the whole while retaining proud vestiges of their past.  One such example is Boston’s North End, sometimes called “Little Italy,” a vibrant and thriving neighborhood replete with restaurants, most of them Italian.

Marzipan at Mike's Pastry in Boston

Marzipan at Mike's Pastry in Boston

Boston’s North End is also home to some of the most significant and storied symbols of American history.  The Freedom Trail winds and curves through the North End’s narrow and compact cobblestone streets past the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s home, the Copp’s Hill burial grounds and more historically significant landmarks,seemingly around every corner.

The neighborhood’s deeply-rooted ties to the Italian culture neither obfuscate nor draw attention away from the Freedom Trail.  Their co-existence is a symbiotic tribute to the melting pot concept.  Also co-existing quite well are sophisticated Italian restaurants with their red-sauced pasta brethren.  Thirty years ago when I called the Boston area home, most of the restaurants specialized in pasta with red sauce or pizza served within dark interiors with suspended Chianti bottles serving as ambience.  The more upscale restaurants specializing in Northern Italian cuisine had a presence, but it wasn’t quite as well established.

Whether you prefer the sophisticated fare or a more elegant and refined dining experience, the North End has it all for you.  One commonality is that you won’t be hungry when you’re done with your meal.  Eating well has always been a hallmark of Boston’s North End.

Deliciousness abounds at Mike's Pastry

Deliciousness abounds at Mike's Pastry

When we were planning our eating excursion to the Northeast, I sought out the rede of Barbara Trembath, a faithful reader of this blog who has not only led me to some great dining finds in New Mexico, but who travels to the Boston area as often as I’d like to.  Her recommendations included Mama Maria’s, the most highly regarded restaurant in the North End as well as Mike’s Pastry which she called “THE PLACE for dessert in Boston.”

Also in Boston’s North End, Mike’s Pastry hardly sounds like the name of an Italian bakery, much less one whom Boston contributors to Urbanspoon rate as THE very best restaurant in Boston.  That’s not just best bakery or best dessert.  That’s best restaurant, period!  Mike’s Pastry also earned four out of four stars from the Boston Globe.  It’s got credentials, it’s got cachet and it’s got the pedigree to be the best.

Mike’s Pastry was launched in 1943 by Mike and Annette Mercogliano (now that’s Italian).  In more than six decades, it has sated the sweet tooth of presidents, celebrities and visitors from every corner of the globe.  Mike’s is renown for the lines which stretch out the door, especially on chaotic weekends in summer.

Florentine Ricotta Cannoli with hot chocolate

Florentine Ricotta Cannoli with hot chocolate

The bakery’s front area includes seating for 50 although the fire marshall might be concerned at how cramped that seating is.  If you’re fortunate enough to nab one of the small tables, you should do so.  Just make sure you have a good vantage point to the bakery’s pastry cases which are awash in color and imagination.  People-watching is also interesting though few of the people are as intriguing as those pastries.

A dizzying array of cookies, marzipan, gelato and some hard-to-find Italian specialties will tempt the most dedicated of dieters.  The marzipan, artisanally crafted by mixing sugar with finally chopped ground almonds, occupies two shelves and is as colorful as a fruit stand while looking exactly like the real thing sans any blemishes.

Aside from pastries, the bakery offers a nice selection of Italian breads, lovely loaves of the staff of life just beckoning for capicola, sopressata, prosciutto or any other wonderful Italian salted and cured meat.  A variety of cakes, sold by the slice or whole, is also available.  The tiramisu and rum cakes are legendary as are the sweet cheese pastries.  Caloric overachievers are in their element surrounded by all this decadence and deliciousness.

Chocolate Dipped Cannoli with Raspberry and Lemon Bows

Chocolate Dipped Cannoli with Raspberry and Lemon Bows

Consensus will never be achieved as to just what is the best of the best at Mike’s Pastry, but most patrons seem to gravitate toward one of the bakery’s cannoli.  These cannoli are several orders of magnitude better than any cannoli we’ve ever had.  The ricotta cheese is fresher and richer, the shells more flavorful and best of all, those shells are more generously engorged with that incomparable cheese.

Cannoli at Mike’s Pastry also doesn’t mean just one type of cannoli.  The Florentine Ricotta Cannoli, for example, includes that amazingly creamy and decadent cheese filling, but that filling is stuffed into a shell whose flavor is somewhat reminiscent of toffee.  The Florentine shell is sweeter and harder than the standard shell and will now forever be the standard against which I judge all cannoli.

Ordinarily the chocolate dipped cannoli dusted with confectioner’s sugar would have been the star attraction, but that Florentine Ricotta Cannoli is something the Concord poets would have rhapsodized with song and verse and something lonely men might propose to.  Like its Florentine cousin, the chocolate dipped cannoli is humongous, like cannoli on steroids and it’s filled from the top of the shell to its bottom, no annoying air pockets.  Throughout the North End, you’ll see locals and tourists alike carrying small boxes bearing the luscious logo of Mike’s Pastry.  No doubt those boxes include cannoli.

Pistachio Macaroon and Raspberry Bow

Pistachio Macaroon and Raspberry Bow

Almost as amazing as the cannoli are the pistachio macaroons.  Sweet and rich would just barely begin to describe them.  These puffy gems are covered in powdered sugar, but not so much that you can’t see the greenish hue of the pistachio through the snow-like covering. The outside offers just a bit of resistance before you bite into the chewy, almond-imbued inside spotted with pistachios.  I’m generally mad for macaroons and these are what all macaroons aspire to be like.

Lemon and raspberry bows are also incomparable.  Cookie dough envelops real lemon and raspberry filling on these two-bite-sized gems.

Mike’s Pastry is a veritable cornucopia of decadence with a plethora of pastries, a bounty of breads, a torrent of torrones and so much more.  It’s a melting pot of Italian desserts done incomparably well.

Mike’s Pastry
300 Hanover Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 742-3050
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 21 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 26
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Florentine Ricotta Cannoli, Chocolate Dipped Cannoli, Raspberry Bow, Lemon Bow, Pistachio Macaroon

Kingfish Hall – Boston, Massachusetts (CLOSED)

Kingfish in the Fanueil Hall area of Boston

Kingfish in the Fanueil Hall area of Boston

“Endorse what you love.”  That’s the message NASCAR driver Tony Stewart delivers to Eric Estrada, Carrot Top and a host of other candidates the stature of which usually grace Dancing With The Stars and other dreadful reality shows.  If the television commercial is to be believed, what Stewart loves is Burger King, the fast food sponsor who supplanted Subway on the hood of his car and which is now paying for Stewart’s love.

What it seems celebrities, including celebrity chefs, love most is having their names and smiling countenances visible to the general public and getting paid wheelbarrow’s full of money for the privilege.  Do you really believe Food Network glitterati Guy Fieri loves TGI Fridays or that Applebee’s can really execute Tyler Florence’s recipes?  Television commercials would have you believe that (then they’d also have you believe the myth about honest politicians, too).

Some celebrity chefs not only “sell out” to the corporate cabal, they leave the chef work to someone else (an underpaid “executive” chef) and begin to proliferate the myth that is them by becoming restaurant impresarios.  It doesn’t take long before the celebrity chef’s name adorns the marquee of several restaurants, sometimes in several cities.  Sure a restaurant may carry the celebrity chef’s name on the flamboyant, mega-watted signage, but how often, for example, do you think Mario Batali is actually in the kitchen of his Las Vegas or Los Angeles restaurants?

Oversized seashell shaped seating at Kingfish

Oversized seashell shaped seating at Kingfish

Even within their own cities, some celebrity chefs seem to have abandoned some of the restaurant concepts they spawned during the height of their celebrity.  We found that out the hard way when we visited Kingfish Hall, a restaurant owned by Todd English, the Boston-based restaurateur, entrepreneur, author, television star and chef.  To be honest, visiting Kingfish wasn’t my idea as I don’t think Todd English is that cute nor did I believe for one second that he’d be up on a Sunday morning personally preparing our meal, but having an egalitarian marriage means deferring to Kim’s wishes even if I have reservations about it.

Kingfish Hall is situated in the heart of Boston’s historic Fanueil Hall Market Place, one of America’s most famous and august shopping and dining venues.  While many Bostonians consider Fanueil Hall a tourist trap within easy walking distance of far superior dining opportunities, locals and tourists both flock to this legendary marketplace.  The locals visit for something quick–a hot dog, a slice of pizza, ice cream and the like.  Most locals wouldn’t seriously consider or equate fine dining with Fanueil Hall.

When it first opened, Kingfish Hall was, nonetheless, the place to be–a raucous, festive, hip and happening place in the heart of Boston.  It earned accolades and awards in a tough market.  It was hailed as a triumph of genius.  In contrast to other seafood restaurants in the city which are mostly thematically nautical, Kingfish took that theme to Disneyesque proportions.  Oversized booths shaped like clamshells envelop patrons as even more clamshells hang from the rafters.  Disco lights over the bar and bright glass mobiles and plenty of color add to the theme park ambience.

Parker House Rolls with butter

Parker House Rolls with butter

Only the patio, weather permitting, offers a respite from the warehouse meets theme park feel of the 225-seat restaurant.  The patio offers a terrific vantage point for people watching as well as gawking at the street performers, some of whom defy gravity with their feats of aerial dynamics.  The restaurant is a yawning edifice, two stories high of prime real estate dressed up as if Donald Duck had decorated it.  The patio lets you avoid that.

The menu is unlike the seafood menu at most Boston seafood emporiums.  It’s an American seafood meets the world menu with Asian inspired dishes as well as other liberties taken with the familiar seafood favorites.  It’s got a Todd English stamp in that it has imagination and flair.

Shortly after you’re seated, a basket of Parker House Rolls with hard butter are delivered to your table.  Parker House Rolls are a Boston institution having been invented at the Omni Parker House in downtown beantown.  They are made with milk and tend to be quite buttery, soft, and slightly sweet.  Even though served warm, they’re not warm enough to melt the hard butter.  Still, if you like yeasty rolls that melt in your mouth, these will make you very happy.  Make sure you save some to sop up the clam chowder which sticks to the bowl when you’re done sipping and slurping the chowder.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

The Kingfish Hall Clam chowder is a bowl full of smoky bacon, leeks, potatoes, chopped clams with two house-made oyster crackers floating on top.  It’s rich and creamy, but there are better “chowdahs” in Boston.  For me, better clam chowder means a more clam prevalent flavor, not a mingling of ingredients to form a composite of monotony.  Frankly, we expected better clam chowder, the celebrity chef’s name driving that expectation a bit.  Alternative options include a lobster corn chowder or seafood gumbo.

A more authentic seafood taste can be found in the lump crab cake, a timbale shaped mound of Jonah Crab from Maine served with an endive salad.  Inner endive leaves are formed into scoop-shaped cups in which are placed a single cherry and a tart cherry vinaigrette.  The inner endive leaves are milder than their astringent outer leaf brethren and the tangy cherry vinaigrette complements them very well.

The lump crab, a sweet and meaty cake, is served with a Dijon mustard glaze which contrasts yet complements the just slightly briny crab.  It’s a nice marriage of flavors which go well together.  Though ascribed an impressive name, Jonah crab is a relatively low-priced species many restaurants use to bolster their profit margins.  Not quite as sweet as Dungeness crab to which it is related or as impressive as king crab, it’s got a fairly sweet, fresh flavor.  The secret to maximizing its flavor is in its preparation.  Kingfish Hall offers a good lump crab.

Lump crabcake

Lump crabcake

Lobster boils on the beach are a favorite Northeast activity.  In fact, whether the summer seafood soirée is on the beach or in your backyard, few things spell summer more deliciously than a lobster boil.  Lobster boils also spell friends and family. They’re a social event that the Kingfish Hall endeavors to duplicate.

The Kingfish Hall’s version of the New England Lobster Boil is at a price befitting the stature of the man paying the bills.  The menu reads “market price,” but even in a market in which the price of lobster is dropping, expect to pay at least twice as much as you might pay for a similar meal in Maine.  Is it twice as good?  Hardly, so you must be paying for the privilege of being in a complex bearing the celebrity chef’s name.

This New England Lobster Boil is a netted feast of a one-and-a-half pound lobster, steamers, kielbasa, corn and baby red potatoes.  The lobster is meaty, succulent and sweet, a delicious decapod with a plucked out of the sea freshness and flavor.  Dip it into melted butter and there are few things that will arouse your taste buds quite as much.  The lobster knuckles, in particular, offer up a veritable boatload of deliciousness.

Lobster boil

Lobster boil

The steamers (clams that are steamed in their shell) are excellent with a slightly briny but mellow flavor and a chewiness not wholly unlike oysters.  To an aficionado clams are good in any form, the more the better.  The kielbasa has a smoky aftertaste and is moist when you cut into it, but it lacks the spiciness of some traditional Polish sausages.  The corn is sweet and buttery.  In all, this is a very good lobster boil, better than I could do.  That price point, however, is a sticking point.

During business trips to the San Francisco area, I became enamored of Zuppa di Pesce, a mixed seafood stew as well as Cioppino, a rich, fragrant and messy to eat seafood stew.  It’s hard to be near water without thinking of these inspired stews.  Kingfish Hall’s answer to the stews of the city on the bay is a Thai Bouillabaisse, a chef’s selection of local northern fish, lobster, Price Edward Island mussels, littlenecks, sweet shrimp, lobster curry broth, Chinese eggplant, Thai basil and sesame crouton.  A lump of rice and a triangle of pita bread topped with a garlic aioli spread crown the entree.

Though it sounds like something which might be concocted on the west coast, this Asian spin on a French standard falls short in everything but imagination though the freshness of the seafood and the uniqueness of the Chinese eggplant do their darnedest to save the dish.  Instead of playing off the inherent heat and sweetness of the Thai curry influence, the acidic tomatoes render the broth more than a bit astringent, a quality that also detracts from the sweetness of the seafood.

Extricating the clams from within their shell is such a sloppy endeavor that it makes the experience unpleasant.  The rice may have been a saving grace in that it cut some of the acidity of the broth.  In all, this dish served more to remind me that it’s been to long since I left my heart and money in San Francisco than it did to make me fall in love with Boston’s seafood all over again.

Thai Bouillabaisse

Thai Bouillabaisse

We found the tandem service at Kingfish very efficient and pleasant.  Our waiter was very knowledgeable, but like an ebullient car salesperson, he probably would have told us the napkins were fabulous.  Here’s a hint to wait staff everywhere–not everything is fabulous and your honesty would be much appreciated.

The menu offers several desserts, all of which sound good, but for the sheer experience, you might want to opt instead to walk a hundred feet or so for Indian Pudding from a nineteenth century eating hall called Durgin Park in the sprawling Fanueil Hall complex.  Durgin Park has been specializing in authentic “Yankee cooking” for more than a century and a half.  It’s one of few landmark restaurants which can truly be called an institution.

Indian Pudding is a dessert porridge made from cornmeal and molasses served warm with a scoop of ice cream.  In their terrific tome, 500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late, Michael and Jane Stern relate that Durgin Hall is peerless when it comes to the preparation of this unique Yankee dessert.  You might not like it, you might never have it again, but you should try this perhaps once in a lifetime treat.

Indian Pudding from Durgin Park in Boston

Indian Pudding from Durgin Park in Boston

Though I have not resounded the praises of Kingfish Hall, the truth is if this seafood emporium was in Albuquerque, it would be one of my favorite restaurants, one I would rate very highly.  Allow me to take a “when in Boston, rate as the Bostonians do” approach as I did live in the area for a couple of years and have a good understanding of the seafood culture.

Kingfish
Fanueil Hall
188 South Market Street
Boston, Massachusetts
LATEST VISIT: 20 September 2009
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 21
COST: $$$$
BEST BET: Thai Bouillabaisse, Lobster Boil, Lump Crab cake, Clam Chowder

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