The ‘Burbs: The Best New Restaurants in the Boston Suburbs

For New England foodies, spring is about farmers markets, food trucks, and flowers, but this season there’s something else growing: new restaurants in the Boston suburbs. A cadre of notable city chefs are tossing their toques into the Interstate 95 ring, attracted by more space, lower rents, and excited diners waiting, fork and knife in hand. Take a look at the best new restaurants in the Boston suburbs.

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Chef Rachel Klein, formerly of some of the city’s top hotel restaurants, gave up her gig as executive chef at Liquid Art House to pursue something closer to home in Needham – leading RFK Kitchen, slated to open in late summer. “I’ve been living here for 10 years, and I wanted to do something a little bit more upscale but with price points that the town already has,” she said, also noting that it’s easier to overcome hurdles like liquor licenses that can go for half a million dollars in Boston. “We’re trying to bring a bit more of that Boston aesthetic and feel with a serious bar program, people who are on the cutting edge of their craft. But nothing pretentious or anything that makes you feel stupid. Nothing hoity-toity!”

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The mother of two is looking forward to offering other parents a cloth-napkin option that welcomes kids; the open-kitchen concept is ideal for upcoming classes for families and singles looking to mingle during bar seminars. Having fine dining within an Uber’s ride away also means that no one needs to skip out on the fun to be the designated driver or add on the cost of valet and a babysitter to the meal check since RFK is in the heart of town. “It’s really about being part of the community,” Klein said. “And yes, sometimes it’s good to be a big fish in a small pond.”

Restaurateur and chef Joe Cassinelli just expanded to Metrowest as well, with the opening of Osteria Posto in Waltham. While most of his locations are in Somerville, a hip, smaller Boston-area city accessible by public transportation (Posto, Painted Burro, and Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar also call it home), a trip to Osteria requires a car. So why take the chance with a new audience and locale? “I live in the suburbs, and most of the options out here are chains,” he explained. “Waltham is really centrally located, and it’s not overdeveloped, although there are a lot of families and tech people coming in now — the time is right.” Some of his guests even include fans of his chef-driven Mexican food hot spot and thin-crust upscale pizzeria.

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What they’re finding is a more refined menu of prime steaks and homemade pastas with an airy 8,000-square-foot space that seats 240 (in addition to a 100-person function space) that wouldn’t be available in a city as built up as Boston. “With more space we’re able to offer a great wine program with extensive vintages so it’s really a cool experience,” Cassinelli said. “The palate is a little more foodie-driven and the service is more refined, but it’s still casual fine-dining.”

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Pomp + Circumstance: 10 Top Boston Graduation Party Restaurants

Buh-bye boxed ramen noodles. Time to toss the mortarboard in the air and celebrate with a well-deserved graduation meal—before it’s time for ramen noodles all over again. It’s spring in Boston, yes, but it’s also known as graduation season — weeks of ceremonies take place in colleges and universities, from Boston College and Boston University to Emerson, MIT, and Tufts University, all over town. Here are 10 top Boston graduation party restaurants to splurge it up with visiting family and friends (who are most likely footing the bill) and toast to a new life of promises. To the grad!

The Palm
The new Palm restaurant has been replanted in the Financial District (much bigger space than its Copley Place location) and is a solid celebratory choice, thanks to an outdoor dining deck and executive chef Karen Mitchell’s classic touch. Being a steakhouse, expect dishes like Double Cut Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon, and the Prime Double Cut New York Strip 36 ounce (for two to three persons, sliced tableside). Name your sauce — brandy, peppercorn, hollandaise, béarnaise or chimichurri. And, like any good steakhouse, there is that requisite Iceberg Lettuce Wedge salad (Danish blue cheese, toasted walnuts, bacon, cherry tomatoes, chives and fried onions). For landlocked, heart-set-on-lobster out-of-towners who have climbed mountains to travel to New England, Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobsters are served here, too. The perfect ending to a successful college career — the Big Chocolate Layer Cake, a seven-layer dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. Make a reservation at The Palm.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Ostra
A Back Bay beauty, with the spotlight on Mediterranean seafood at which chef/owner Jamie Mammano works closely with local fishmongers to bring just-plucked-from-the-sea fish and seafood to Ostra. Order the Paella “Valenciana Style” (Spain’s bomba rice, saffron, Maine lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus, squid, drumette confit, and chorizo) or the Grilled Sea Beam in Trevisano Leaf with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, snipped herbs. For dessert, the Chocolate Hazelnut Cremeux with Popcorn Ice Cream is a tassel tease, for sure. Make a reservation at Ostra.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Sorellina
Chef/owner Jamie Mammano is also at the helm of stylish, chic Sorellina in the Back Bay. The menu elevates regional Italian cuisine to Ph.D. levels — salute the newly minted graduate with the Maccheroncelli (American wagyu beef meatballs, Montepulciano sauce, and Parmigiano) and Spaghetti with Prawns, Chili, Guanciale, and Spicy Tomato Brodo. To finish, spoil the hard-working student with the Tiramisu (espresso savoiardi, coffee caramel, and mascarpone mousse). Make a reservation at Sorellina.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Harvest
Harvard grads have been celebrating the graduation milestone at Cambridge’s venerable Harvest since 1975. The handmade pastas are especially popular including the Soft Egg Ravioli (Ben & Tyler’s mushrooms, arugula-hazelnut pesto, and housemade ricotta). A three- or six-course tasting menu is also recommended for special occasions. Among the tastes are the Scituate Scallop (cucumber, fava beans, radish, jalapeno gel, and lemongrass broth) and the Painted Hills Beef Striploin (fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and ramp butter) Harvest is also spot-on for brunch if you need to start the day drinking a bit earlier. Because why wait? Make a reservation at Harvest.

top Boston graduation party restaurants

Top of the Hub
The sky’s the limit for the lofty grad at this restaurant that sits atop the Prudential Tower. “We have become a tradition with many families who live in the area and for those who have come to this area from throughout America and from around the world,” says a restaurant spokeswoman. There’s seating for parties of up to 10 (and a private dining for larger parties). Custom-made cakes are created and decorated for each graduate by executive pastry chef Tommy Choi and his team — think chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, vanilla cake with chocolate, butter cream or whipped cream, layers of fresh fruit, and “a Hong Kong recipe” that is light as a feather.” Or, go traditional with a Top of the Hub fave — timeless Boston Cream Pie. Toast with a glass of Champagne, and splurge with the New England Fisherman’s Bowl (local catch, lobster, mussels, clams, chorizo, kale, potatoes, and clam butter broth). Or, for meat lovers, the Grilled Filet Mignon (creamy Yukon golds, caramelized garlic, and grilled asparagus) beckons. Make a reservation at Top of the Hub.

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Chef Michael Schlow on His New Restaurant, Peruvian Fusion + Why Boston Is So Beyond Clam Chowder

The savory, crispy chip made from hazelnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano that chef Michael Schlow was toiling to get just right for this month’s opening of his third outpost of Alta Strada in Washington, D.C., may be his very latest culinary triumph. But, in a larger sense, Schlow, a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the Northeast, has helped change the dining profile of what are considered two of the seaboard’s stodgiest cities. With a recent ninth feather in his toque that also includes Latin cuisine at Tico restaurants in D.C. and his adopted hometown of Boston, his newly opened Greek restaurant, Doretta, and a cutting-edge late-night fusion menu, he’s come a long way from cracking eggs as a kid.

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What’s your earliest cooking memory?
My mother allowing me to cook omelets for my brother and sister. She would be at work, and I would “experiment” on them with my cooking, making horrible concoctions and then forcing them to eat the omelets, no matter how gross.

You’re from Brooklyn — and New York is one of the world’s culinary epicenters — why stay based in Boston?
Boston has been home for more than 20 years, and I love living here; we have great friends, a terrific food community, and the city has so many amazing attributes that I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

You obviously witnessed a local culinary evolution of sorts; do you think Bostonians are more adventurous these days?
Bostonians are definitely into their food and their chefs — the days of cod, baked beans, and chowder defining Boston cuisine are over for sure! We have so many diverse and interesting restaurants to choose from now that it’s a world-class food destination with some of the best chefs in the country.

Speaking of diversity, how do you transition to different types of cuisine given the fact that you have Italian, Latin, Greek restaurants … do you have a favorite?
I don’t have a favorite, but if you were to come to our house, I’d probably serve simple Italian food.

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Can you give us a sneak peek of something you may be up to — Peruvian, perhaps?
We are working on a few really fun things right now. I’m excited about the Nikkei late-night menu that’s a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese at Tico Boston. It’s really interesting food and totally cures any late-night cravings. [Served 10PM-1AM Thursday-Saturday, recent offerings include crispy short rib gyoza with panca, toasted onion, and sesame.]Continue Reading

5 Delicious Brunch Trends to Plan your Weekends Around

Two scrambled eggs with a side of toast? Think again. Breakfast moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary with exciting and inventive brunch options that pack a punch. So whether you’re looking for breakfast punch and want to nurse a large-format cocktail, or need to knock out a hangover with indulgences like breakfast poutine crafted from hand-rolled tater tots, there are new brunch trends being served in your neighborhood.

Chilaquiles

Almost as much fun to say as it is to eat, this Latin dish of shredded tortillas, egg, crema, and beans rolls off the tongue as “chee-lah-KEE-lehs.” Though it may not be the easiest to pronounce if you’re nursing a hangover, it is the perfect cure for one, says Chris Cullen, manager of Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar. The restaurant serves up a new version of chilaquiles daily depending on what’s in season, but recent versions include green-chile-braised pork with asparagus cream sauce; chipotle-braised chicken; and spicy habanero crema. No matter what’s in them, it’s easy to describe this winning combination as “breakfast nachos” to the uninitiated, says Cullen, who recently spent time vacationing in Guadalajara to research just how authentic those at Barrio are. “The similarities were striking,” he says.

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Eggs Shakshouka

Whether it’s food or music, Beat Brasserie in Cambridge and its sister restaurant Beehive in Boston’s historic South End make it a point to jazz things up, and the shakshouka is no different. The traditional Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs baked in a spicy North African tomato sauce with polenta and Moroccan sausage is served at both restaurants, as is a side of live music for the Sunday brunch service. Chef Daniel Boulud gets into the game where the Mediterranean meets Manhattan at Boulud Sud, serving up shakshouka with spicy green harissa sauce, labneh, and a soft-poached hen egg.

Brunch Trends

Tater Tots

Push those home fries to the side—there’s a new spud in town. Tater tots have moved far beyond what’s been frozen in a bag to the downright gourmet, including the 1,000 hand-shaped tots Marc Taft serves up weekly as executive chef and owner of Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Georgia. The most popular brunch dish there, whether for sharing or indulging, is his tater tot poutine that combines a Canadian staple with upscale Southern comfort food: Springer mountain chicken roasted and hand-shaved, caramelized Vidalia onions, and garlic-and-thyme-roasted mushrooms topped with chicken gravy made from homemade stock and cheese shredded in-house. Northward in Baltimore, Alexander’s Tavern puts a morning spin on their specialty — gourmet tots — with a breakfast bowl featuring fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, cheese, and a bit of sweet maple syrup to offset the savory.

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