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New to Newton/Watertown

a
asiege2 Aug 23, 2007 10:40 AM

I've just moved up to the area and am looking for food food and more food.

So far I've found:

Johnny's Luncheonette (love the cornbread french toast)
Jumbo Seafood (food was eh, service terrible)
New Ginza (I think I love this place, the gyoza was amazing and the aioli for the calamari divine)
Crown Cafe (tasty no frills pancakes, and cheap)

(Also stopped by Boloco and a bar & grill chain in Natick. Boloco I would do again although it was just average, the other place no -- I think it was Joe's American, but I'm not sure.)

Where else should I go? Although my palette would like Lumiere my wallet would much prefer frozen pizza or something of the sort. So... I compromise and try to eat out on a budget. Hole in the wall type places are perfectly acceptable and maybe even preferred so long as they are tidy. Definitely looking for something within 5 or 10 minutes of that ridiculous circle/rectangle at Centre and the Mass Pike.

I really like Latin cuisine, although not so much Spanish -- Cuban and Mexican place high. So does Korean. I'm not familiar with Brazilian food at all, but would love to know a good place to try it out (seems to be a decent Brazilian population here). Italian is always good, Chinese and Japanese fine, pizza, subs... whatever is out there as long as it's good!

  1. d
    dianalily Oct 7, 2007 09:31 AM

    If it's Brazillian food you're looking for, come to Allston and try Cafe Belo. They serve cafeteria-style BBQ - lots of side dishes, fresh salad and meat sliced hot off the grill and onto your plate. Try the chicken wrapped in bacon (mmm). It is a chain, but it is one of the cheapest meals around (pay by the pound) and there's parking in the lot out front.

    Also in Allston is El Cafetal, a Columbian "country food" restaurant. We haven't been in a few years, but last time we did eat there, it was scrumptious.

    1. s
      Spenbald Aug 29, 2007 09:02 PM

      The new Mango Grill in Watertown Square has been getting some good reviews:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433992. I went for lunch a couple weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised. Great prices (no liquor yet, not sure if it's going to happen or not), and good food. I tried the two desserts they offered: one a plantain empanada filled with vanilla cream, and the other a basic flan. Both were delicious, and they also served a house coffee flavored with cinnamon that was quite nice. I think they have a different dinner menu, but from what I hear, the prices are still very reasonable.

      I happen to like the Acapulco restaurant at Lexington and Main in Watertown as well. This place is affiliated with the restaurant in JP, and not the chain in Newton, Norwood, etc. They have your usual Tex-Mex favorites, but they also offer some great authentic alternatives. And they serve some fantastic sangria.

      Asiana Fusion at Waverly and Main in Watertown is a surprise hit. They offer several standard Chinese favorites in addition to some traditional Korean and Japanese dishes, all very wallet-friendly. My standby here is the Chicken and Vegetable Udon Soup, which warmed me up several times during the winter. The PuPu Platter is much different from your usual Chinese take out in that the teriyaki beef actually tastes teriyaki and not some candied facsimile. The pork ribs are grilled and very flavorful.

      I would stay away from Sol Azteca in Newton Centre. I ate there last summer and had poor service and really boring food, despite the pleasant outdoor seating.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Spenbald
        b
        Blumie Aug 30, 2007 07:13 AM

        Thanks for clarifying about the different Acapulco locations. The one in Newton is horrendouly bad, so I've always avoided all of them. But it certainly sounds like there's no reason to avoid the Watertown and JP locations.

      2. c
        Chowhound in Boston Aug 28, 2007 08:47 PM

        I'm surprised no one has mentioned Stellina in Watertown. Reliably good Italian and easy to get a table if you call ahead.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chowhound in Boston
          f
          fbf242 Aug 29, 2007 06:59 AM

          Staceybeth did. And I'll 3rd it :)

          1. re: fbf242
            marcusnaz14 Aug 29, 2007 08:23 AM

            Sweet Potato Pancakes at Deluxe Town Diner are dope.
            I second Blue Ribbon BBQ and Amarin
            Havent found good Pizza in Watertown yet although I am trying Pizza Roma tomorrow.

        2. t
          tpapa2 Aug 28, 2007 07:35 PM

          All good recommendations. If you are looking for good take out pizza in Watertown, I'd recommend Stella's on Mt. Auburn near the Armenian markets and bakeries -very good pizza, but we've had bad luck with delivery almost every time with hour + waits, orders forgotten, etc. - it's better to pick it up. Another good choice is Pizza Roma - no delivery, but very decent pie - on Waverly at the intersection with Orchard.

          1. s
            staceybeth Aug 28, 2007 02:10 PM

            Hi,
            I agree with many of the above places - and would also add Stellina Restaurant in Watertown Square (just down Galen street from Newton Corner - which is the Centre Street/Mass Pike intersection). They have EXCELLENT italian food, and yummy cocktails. They also have tables outside in the back during nice weather.

            Additionally there is a little hidden gem that i'm hesitant to tell anyone about called Vecchia-Roma on Watertown Street in Nonantum - one of the villages of newton next to newton corner. This place has amazing north-end quality italian food at very reasonable prices. It's a small place, although it recently expanded to the next storefront - so reservations are necessary on the weekends. The chef/owner is from the Abruzzi region of Italy, is always entertaining, and the food is always perfect. An excellent value and really easy to get to.

            Other suggestions- there's a small sushi place in West Newton square on Washington Street next to Blue Ribbon BBQ (which i LOVE) called Shogun that is good and reasonable. The menu is nowhere near as expansive as New Ginza, but it's cheaper and the raw fish is fresh and yummy.

            Others:
            Amarin of Thailand: for fantastic Thai food
            Bertuccis Newton Corner: is always consistently good even if it is a chain (i love their pizza)
            Pho Phasteur: (wait, i think it's called Le's now) in the Atrium in Chestnut Hill for good Vietnamese

            In Newton Center I would try No. 1 Noodle House for really cheap, hole-in-the-wall big bowl noodle soups and stir-frys. And Bill's Pizza is fantastic (try the Dr. Seuss Pizza) and they make and bottle their own greek dressing. Is you're a food -right next to Bill's is Dewar's meats and fine foods -the BEST butcher around!

            Hope that helps!

            1. f
              fbf242 Aug 28, 2007 11:38 AM

              Another good Italian restaurant is Francesca's, on Adam's St. in Nonantum. My family often gets takeout pizza from them. The crust is delicious. They also have delicious pasta dishes. It's small, but the atmosphere is elegant for dining in.

              1 Reply
              1. re: fbf242
                r
                RDR Aug 29, 2007 09:43 AM

                I second Francesca's-a real authentic, family-run red sauce place with excellent pizza as well, and a full bar. They stopped taking credit cards, though.....

              2. Science Chick Aug 24, 2007 09:56 AM

                Also, check out The Spot Cafe on Main St. in Watertown (heading west towards Waltham out of the square). Great breakfasts, homemade bread, soups, sandwiches.

                1. p
                  peelmeagrape Aug 24, 2007 09:35 AM

                  Lots of good ideas in this thread already, but here are a few that haven't been mentioned yet.

                  If you need a sweets fix, there are some bakeries worth checking out in the area, too:

                  - Antoine's in Nonantum. I only recently began to explore their offerings, but I suspect that the Italian pastries are the way to go there.
                  - Danish Pastry House. I adore their custard danishes and apple squares but have had to severely limit my visits there, since I seem entirely unable to exercise self-control around them.
                  - Cookies from Tabrizi Bakery in Watertown Square.
                  - For something sweet and non-baked (ice cream), there's the JP Licks in Newton Center which is open later than pretty much anything else in Newton Center ('til 11pm, I think).

                  And, of course, Russo's for weekly groceries: produce, dairy products, inexpensive fresh flowers, etc.

                  It can be fun to poke around the Armenian food shops on Mt. Auburn (tons of posts on the board, including a recent discussion of their baked goods).

                  And if you want something Italian and slightly fancier for dinner (or a sit-down lunch), Pava on Centre Street can be a tasty, if 'hip' spot.

                  -----
                  Antoine's Pastry Shop
                  317 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

                  Danish Pastry House
                  205 Arlington St, Watertown, MA 02472

                  Tabrizi Bakery
                  56 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                  J P Licks
                  46 Langley Rd, Newton Center, MA 02459

                  Russo's
                  560 Pleasant St, Watertown, MA 02472

                  Restaurant Pava
                  1229 Centre St, Newton, MA 02459

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: peelmeagrape
                    g
                    ginnyhw Aug 29, 2007 12:16 PM

                    We like to grab a sandwich when we shop at Russo's. They make them up at the cheese counter, cost 4 - 5 bucks and are really good.The salad bar, deli and bakery are also worth checking out.

                  2. Ali G Aug 24, 2007 09:33 AM

                    Lots of good recs already. I'm in Waltham and I would agree that there are more options here, especially for good food on a budget.

                    Latin:
                    Taqueria Mexico and Taqueria El Amigo are both good bets for Mexican. TM has a small patio and serves beer (and sangria from a jug), TEM does not, so keep that in mind depending on your mood. Solea on Moody is good for tapas. Mi Tierra is great for pupusas and other El Savadorian food. A nice change from all the Mexican in the area. Skip Margaritas. Also, from Newton, you are less than 10 mins from a cheap burrito at Anna's.

                    Italian:
                    Comella's in West Newton is good for take out. They also have a few seats inside and I think they serve beer and wine. Nothing fancy, but reliable red sauce. Fiorella's is good for what it is, but again, nothing special. My fiance's family has ordered food at Maria di Napoli on Watertown St in the Lake. They are from the old country and seem to like it, so I guess it's worth a try. Tuscan Grill on Moody in Waltham can be very good, but more pricey.

                    Asian:
                    BeiJing Star on Main St in Waltham. Order off the Chinese menu or the specials that are posted as you walk in the door. I know you disliked Jumbo in Newton, but I've had dim sum there a few times and enjoyed the food. Same with Green Tea. I've had some decent sushi at Ponzu on Moody. Kinda Asian fusion, but food is fresh and service is good. Thai - Amarin's in Newton; Tree Top and Erawan in Waltham are all good, but I tend to head for Brookline when I crave Thai and hit Dok Bua and Khao Sarn.

                    Misc:
                    Buff's Pub in Newton Corner for wings. Strip T's for seafood and sandwitches. Halfway Cafe for decent pub grub. Domenic's in Waltham for paninis. Tempo in Waltham. Not cheap for dinner, but could sit at the bar and have a drink and apps. Friendly bartenders and nice atmosphere.

                    1. peregrine Aug 23, 2007 06:37 PM

                      No.1 Noodle House in Newton Center gets mixed reviews here, but I happen to like the place. I especially enjoy their laksa, which is hard to find around here. Simple store front, not much atmosphere, but definitely tidy.

                      Yes, Moody Street in Waltham is a goldmine. There are also some ethnic markets in addition to the restaurants.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: peregrine
                        n
                        nincyh Aug 23, 2007 07:54 PM

                        I also like No. 1 Noodle House and my favorite thing there is the basic "beef pan-fried noodles". Very tasty $7 one-dish meal with carbs, protein and vegs.

                      2. Aromatherapy Aug 23, 2007 02:46 PM

                        Get thee to Waltham. Try Taqueria El Amigo on Willow. Kabob and Tandoor, but it's *really* a hole in the wall. Beijing Star for good northern Chinese. There are Central American places I haven't made it to yet, also a Ugandan place off Moody, ditto. Molana in Watertown Sq. for Persian. Blue Ribbon BBQ in W. Newton (pretty much takeout).

                        1. Chrispy75 Aug 23, 2007 02:01 PM

                          For Italian, I'll throw out Appetito in Newton. I've been three times over the past couple of years and it was consistently decent for a pretty modest price. Stick to the basics. It's pretty similar to Carlo's in Allston, but not as good, imo. It's definitely easier to find parking near Appetito and there is usually a lot less of a wait than Carlo's.

                          1. v
                            Velda Mae Aug 23, 2007 01:13 PM

                            I'd vote for Thai Thai Kitchen in Newton Centre over Amarin.

                            FYI, Sweet Tomatoes stops serving slices around 4 p.m.

                            Rice Valley is quite good Chinese.

                            If you venture to Waltham, try Taqueria Mexico. It's the best Mexican food I've had in the Boston area.

                            Sushi 21 in Watertown Square is really good and their $1 lunch specials can't be beat.

                            Talk of the Town Diner in Watertown Square (breakfast and lunch) makes the best omelettes I've ever had. The ambience of a neighborhood/family-run restaurant can't be beat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Velda Mae
                              Joanie Aug 29, 2007 05:23 AM

                              I wish Sweet Tomatoes would change that slice policy.

                            2. mabelm4050 Aug 23, 2007 11:33 AM

                              Definitely Sweet Tomatoes in Newton Centre and West Newton. For a quick slice, Raviolis in 4 corners is not bad.

                              One of my favorite restaurants in Newton is Farm Grille on Needham St. Great Greek food, really clean restaurant (order at counter). Also Demos in Watertown for good Greek, also casual.

                              For great Thai, try Amarin in Newton Corner. I've never had a bad meal there, and the atmosphere is very relaxing, they don't rush you out.

                              have fun!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: mabelm4050
                                b
                                Bighead Aug 23, 2007 11:46 AM

                                Fiorellas

                                1. re: Bighead
                                  b
                                  Blumie Aug 23, 2007 12:20 PM

                                  Fiorella's has been getting a lot of plugs lately. The place is ok, particularly if you have a hankering for veal parm, but it's not great. The pizza is to be avoided.

                                  1. re: Blumie
                                    b
                                    Bighead Aug 23, 2007 12:42 PM

                                    tastes are relative and you pan everything anyway :)

                                    fiorella's is the best value itialian for budget concious diners in either town in my opinion. it's a cheap, clean hole in the wall..as requested.

                                    1. re: Bighead
                                      b
                                      Blumie Aug 23, 2007 03:30 PM

                                      You're not very familiar with my reviews are you? I only pan bad restaurants!

                                    2. re: Blumie
                                      q
                                      qwertyu Aug 27, 2007 08:01 PM

                                      I've found Fiorella's pizzas to have the perfect balance between doughy and crispy crusts, which is the deciding factor for me. But to each his own.

                                      1. re: qwertyu
                                        b
                                        Blumie Aug 28, 2007 01:10 PM

                                        Well there's only one thing for the OP to do then, isn't there? Certainly a visit to Fiorella's is not a significant investment; it is very reasonably priced. So go and see for yourself. If you happen to really like the food, I agree with the others that it's a nice place: a warm, neighborhoody place with warm, neighborhoody service (albeit in a very nondescript setting, at least from the outside). Note that there often are waits at peak times. (I do not recall if they take reservations.)

                                2. r
                                  Ruprecht Aug 23, 2007 11:01 AM

                                  This ought to get you started:

                                  Watertown:

                                  Deluxe Town Diner (breakfast/brunch especially, good dinners too)
                                  Strip T's Restaurant (local mostly seafood joint, try the turkey burger too)
                                  Demos (Kabobs, simple, cheap and good)
                                  Sushi 21
                                  Napoli Pizza (ny-style)

                                  Newton:
                                  Lam's (Vietnames with some other asian mixed in)
                                  Sweet Tomatoes Pizza (thin crust)
                                  Mango (Thai)
                                  Blue Ribbon BBQ

                                  Belmont:
                                  Shangri La (Sichuan Chinese)

                                  -----
                                  Shangri-La
                                  149 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478

                                  Blue Ribbon Barbecue
                                  1375 Washington St, West Newton, MA 02465

                                  Deluxe Town Diner
                                  627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  Lam's Restaurant
                                  825 Washington St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                                  Sushi 21
                                  54 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  Napoli Pizza
                                  9 Main St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  Mango Thai Cuisine
                                  115 Elm St, Newton, MA 02465

                                  Demos Restaurant
                                  64 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  Strip-T's Restaurant
                                  93 School St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  Sweet Tomatoes Pizza
                                  1279 Washington St West, Newton, MA

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ruprecht
                                    j
                                    Jaycee Aug 28, 2007 12:38 PM

                                    Sweet Tomato and Blue Ribbon are a must!! You won't be disappointed.

                                  2. s
                                    sushidad Aug 23, 2007 10:53 AM

                                    In Newton, I would recommend Biltmore Cafe, Dunn and Gaherins and Green Tea in Newton Upper Falls.

                                    In Newtonville, Lam's and Rice Valley are good oriental options as is Amarin in Newton Corner.

                                    The best area eating, however is in Waltham. On Moody Street you will find spanish (Solea) a variety of Latin American, Indian and Asian restaurants as well as higher end establishments such as Tuscan Grill.

                                    If you want to venture to Needham I highly recommend Rice Barn for Thai food and Sweet Basil for Italian.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sushidad
                                      mirage Aug 24, 2007 08:35 AM

                                      While I whole-heartedly agree with the Biltmore, Dunn and Gaherins is mediocre bar food at best.
                                      Green Tea is very good - good place for dim sum, too.
                                      Rice Barn is overpriced, IMO. I like Sweet Basil, but some of their food is overly salted (esp. their risottos)

                                      YMMV

                                      1. re: mirage
                                        e
                                        emilief Aug 24, 2007 09:11 AM

                                        I agree with the biltmore- excellent place! Sweer Basil- eh!

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