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Best of Boston

My 15yo son and I will be visiting downtown Boston next week. We are interested in sampling so of the restaurants and other food places that you local hounds are proud that it's in your city. Some of the places we would like to sample are pizza restaurants and joints (warning--I lived in NYC for many years and consider myself a pizza maven), ice cream places, burger restaurants, and anything else that you really like.(fish, red sauce Italian, etc.) We would prefer to stay away from the tourist places. Healthy is a plus.

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  1. I just saw that a similar post was listed--"Best of Boston-An Experiment" I'm going to be monitoring that post. But if you can list here any places that don't fall within hamburgers, pizza and lobster rolls, I'd appreciate it.
    Thanks

    1. If you're used to New York pizza, note well that you may or may not be impressed with Boston's version. The best spots to give pizza a whirl here would be Pizzeria Regina (the original only, on Thacher Street in the North End) or Santarpio's in East Boston.

      For ice cream, your best non-suburban bets would be Toscanini's (Central Square in Cambridge), Herrell's (Harvard Square in Cambridge or Allston), Emack and Bolio's (several locs, including one in downtown Boston on Newbury Street), and Picco (Boston's South End -- they also have decent if not top grade pizza).

      For burgers, two good spots to try are Mr. & Mrs. Bartley's (Harvard Square in Cambridge), and O'Sullivan's (Somerville, not far from Cambridge's Porter Square).

      Note well that I'm not sure anyone on this board will equate any of these places with "healthy," however. That's a different animal from burgers, pizza, and ice cream.

      I'd also recommend doing a site search for other Boston/Cambridge possibilities in these categories or for other cuisines.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bachslunch

        backslunch--by healthy hamburgers, I mean meat that is ground in the restaurant and has minimal salt and fillers; pizza where the sauce is freshly made and good quality cheese; ice cream, my mistake--I'm sure that if it is labeled healthy, I won't like it.

        1. re: jayjay

          I think the pizza and burger places above will all qualify as "healthy" by this specific definition. And yup, let me know if you find any healthy ice cream that's really good.

          1. re: bachslunch

            FWIW, I find the non-fat soft serve at JP Licks to be pretty dang good. I'm not a big ice cream fan, so I like that it's not so heavy. They will also make it into a non-fat frappe using fat free milk - a nice treat during the summer when I don't want a calorie-bomb after the gym.

            'Course, a malted vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge from Christina's is my other favorite, so go figure.

            1. re: bachslunch

              Richardson's Dairy has lowfat frozen yogurt that even a diehard healthfood-hating acquaintance of mine couldn't tell the difference (I took the label off - he never knew). I know there are a lot of places around that sell it besides their own stands in Middleton and Reading - others might be able to help locate a Boston retailer selling Richardson's.

        2. For ice cream: J.P. Licks with several locations around the city is a tasty treat (but the original in JP is my fave). Christina's in Cambridge isn't half bad either.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bakemeacake

            I've tried Christina's and J.P. Licks several times, and while they would likely be the best in many cities, I don't think they are in Boston/Cambridge. Both spots have supporters on this board, but I think they come up short in richness (body, mouth feel, creaminess) and flavor (immediacy, trueness) compared to Toscanini's, Picco, Herrell's, and Emack & Bolio's.

            1. re: bachslunch

              JP licks: meh, I'd rather eat Ben and Jerry's (at least the Davis outlet, I haven't tried the original).

              Christina's, on the other hand is right up there with the best of them (Toscanini's IMHO), especially for fruit flavors. I think you're right that they're a little less rich and creamy which is a liability for for some flavors, but not such a problem for fruits. On the other hand, I find their flavors quite intense and "true". They also often have unusual flavors like avocado or sweet corn which are worth a try.

              Mmm, a double scoop, chocolate and mango...

          2. Well, if you like NY-style pizza, eat pizza in NY (not trying to be mean, but why would anyone come to Boston for NY pizza? It always amazes me). If you just like good pizza, all the greats are listed on that other Best of Boston post. Regina's is my personal fav, but for a twist, try the Alsatian at Picco. Certainly not NY-style, but amazing.

            My personal fav ice cream is Herrell's malted vanilla, but Boston is an ice cream mecca. Do a site search.

            For a great burger (if you're willing to slum-it a little) go to The Cantab. The cook there is formerly of the late Tim's Tavern, the greatest burger joint ever.

            For Italian? I'd again suggest a site search. The options are incredibly numerous. My favs are Mamma Maria, Terramia, Taranta, Sorellina...but there are many more delicious choices.

            1. JayJay,

              For pizza there is only one choice. Santarpios. It's in East Boston. If you go through the Callaghan Tunnell as if you are headed to airport, take your very first exit after leaving the tunnel and it's right there, can't miss it.

              If you feel like it is NOT the best pizza you have ever had, ever, ever, then let me know on this board and I will personally reimburse you.

              Note: I have zero affiliation with Santarpios, other than being thankful such a place exists.

              Additional Note: My ex-girlfriend's family was from italy. Her grandpa would spend all day picking tomatoes from his garden to make his own pizza for dinner. All day. In the event that his vegetables weren't perfectly ripe, we'd go to Santarpios. It was the only pie he'd eat other than his own.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jdc_boston

                Although it's real good, you may want to keep your wallet handy. Good pizza can be found everywhere in NYC. Santarpios would be considered just another decent place to get two slices and a coke in New York.

                1. re: steve999

                  Heh.

                  I just don't get this. Boston pizza isn't the same kind as NY pizza. Why even compare them? If you want NY pizza, go to NY and eat pizza. I mean, it's fine to say, "I personally prefer the taste and consistency of NY pizza to Boston's." What I don't get is when people say, "you can't get NY pizza in Boston." No s--t, Sherlock. Boston's not a borough of NY (thank God).

                  For instance, an Alsatian at Picco isn't anything like a Patsy's or a John's pizza. But it's still amazingly good.

                  But even if you do compare the two citiy's pies, your line above is simply not true. Or do you REALLY believe that a slice of Famous Ray's is better than Santarpio's or Regina's?

                  In any case, for pure tasty goodness regardless of "style," New Haven has both cities beat all to hell.

                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                    "But even if you do compare the two citiy's pies, your line above is simply not true. Or do you REALLY believe that a slice of Famous Ray's is better than Santarpio's or Regina's?"

                    Not sure if that was for me, but I wasn't comparing any cities pizza, just made a comment that Santarpio's isn't the best thing ever, as far as pizza goes. There are lots of other places to get a decent slice regardless of the type. Never been to Ray's, but plenty of other places. Difference is there's lots of places like Santarpio's in NYC. And yes, there's bad pizza in NYC, just like there's bad seafood in NE.

                    Pizza for me growing up in upstate NY was always a thin, crispy crust with sauce, cheese, and possibly pepperoni or sausage. The slices were so good, you didn't need toppings, but you did need a bunch of napkins.

                    1. re: steve999

                      I think that Santarpio's more or less sucks, but I'm no NY snob. I think that Regina compares favorably with any of NY's best.

                      And yes, there is a TON of HORRIBLE pizza in Manhattan.

                  2. re: steve999

                    New York is such a totally different scale -- very, very bad pizza can also be found everywhere there. I agree - the top spots in New Haven are better to me than anything I've ever had in NYC.

                    To keep this thread relevant to Boston, my pizza favs (for different reasons) are: Il Panino, Armandos, and Emma's in Cambridge, Za in Arlington, and Pizzeria Regina in the North End.

                    I think Santarpios is also really good, but the whole experience doesn't work for me (the crowds, rude service, parking challenges, etc.).