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What's your favorite neighborhood spot?

You know, the place where you can wear your favorite old jeans and Chuck Taylors, have a great drink (poured/mixed by a friendly and knowledgeable bartender, of course) and a yummy bite, and not have to worry about dodging scenesters or tourists?

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  1. i'm really loving garden at the cellar in the harvard/central neighborhood these days. a bit of a scene on the weekends but the perfect neighborhood spot during the week.

    1. I like O'Leary's in Brookline. The food is good, the bartenders are really nice (and pour Guinness the right way), and it is frequented mainly by older people and regular Joes. A lot of folks who go there actually eat right at the bar, partly because the bartenders are willing to chat, and partly because the bar itself is usually not too crowded.

      This was one of my go-to places for awhile (along with O'Sullivan's, Eastern Pier, Cronin's, and Santarpio's), but I only get there every few months these days. I think I need to start getting back there more often...

      4 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        O'Leary's IS a nice mellow place and not far from me. I look forward to watching some Sox games there. I wish I liked the food a little better, though. A person cannot live on Guinness (or cider in my case) and soda bread alone.

        Coda meets all the criteria except for not being in my own actual neighborhood.

        1. re: hiddenboston

          second O'Leary's (although we wish it wasn't quite so popular). if you haven't been lately you may have not know there is a the new cook, Mark. He is top notch. Check out the specials on a night when Mark is cooking.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            I went to Vee Vee in JP last Thursday; very cool neighborhood restaurant. I had the tuna nicoise which was very tasty. My friend had the bass, which looked was also very good. I like the menu, though small but lots to try. The bar is cozy, with candles and the place is a glow with red! Love it.

            1. re: hiddenboston

              les zygomates when it's really cold out and you need to hang somewhere forever...

              Always loved audobahn anynight the sox weren't playing. Potstickers!!! Decent Background beats.

              Deluxe in SE when there weren't too many bike messengers WITH their bikes bellied up. And it gets difficult if you have seen that scooby episode on the cartoon network a few too many times.

              Bukowski's before a flick on Dalton Street although I have seen three bar belliers on three separate occassions fall off the bar stools and hurt themselves. Best spot where you may actually run into Mickey Rourke all under the aural pleasures of late 70's retro ska punk.

              Parish Cafe if you need to get your sandwich thing on.

              Enormous room for some lounging in central square

              1. re: Bostonbob3

                I've tried James's Gate 3 times now and for me it's just OK. I like the feel of the place but the food has just been so-so. Shepherd's pie has been the highlight but nothing else has really rung my bell. Recommendations? It's received good buzz from people whose food opinions I trust including you. What am I missing? My wife and I has used Vee Vees as our neighborhood place, It's pricier that James's Gate but have enjoyed the food and sitting at the small bar there.

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  I agree about James's Gate. The food has ranged from OK to awful. I do like the fireplace in the winter, however.

              2. Buff's Pub, Newton; Tempo, Waltham

                1. My go-to place is Olde Magoun's Saloon in Magoun Square, Somerville.
                  Plenty of TVs to watch the game, a decent jukebox and a great beer selection.

                  1. I love the Washington Square Tavern. Great mixed drinks, beers and wines. Outstanding food. Noisy, boisterous place, but very friendly crowd.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: FoonFan

                      FF, i'm with you. Long before the Washington Square Tavern, the old Tam in brookline was my go-to neighborhood place. I really like the Tavern, though I tend to go early cause it can be a "scene" late. Like O'Leary's on occasion, and the Publick House for neighborhood, drop-in places and a little farther afield, Devlins. I so want to like James Gate because its my daughter's neighborhood place but find the food unremarkable to poor.

                    2. Coda is my go-to neighborhood spot. Great food, great drinks, nice people.

                      And on a cold rainy/snowy day, its hard to beat Anchovies.

                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            Absolutely. Everything from jeans and sneakers to people in button downs and dress pants. Pretty laid back overall.

                            1. re: hiddenboston

                              I've rolled into Highland Kitchen in jeans and sneakers and gone in wearing a dress and heels. It definitely skews towards more casual than not.

                            2. re: LeoLioness

                              I second Highland Kitchen. It is rapidly becoming one of my faves.

                            3. Fat Cat in Quincy.

                              224 Boston

                              Dbar in Dot


                              Brasserie Jo

                              I was feeling really old after reading the Daisy Buchanan thread but now feel ancient realizing that I was a frequent patron of Washington Square Tavern when it was The Hammond and went to O'Leary's when it was Brown's and even in the iteration before that. :-(

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                You went to Brown's!!! Wonder if we ever shared a conversation. I knew David back in the day. Last I heard he had become the manager of Hilltop, but I don't think he is there any more. So you have company in the feeling old dept.!

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Wow! what great taste same as mine....must be an age thing

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    I second Fat Cat in Quincy. Gets pretty busy, though, but it's good to sit at the bar.

                                  2. I live in Southie. I love Amrhiens!

                                    1. I live in Brookline and have been to most of the local favorits listed. I go to Dalia's, probably once a week for the quite ambience and good food. I like the Washington Sq. Tavern and I meet friends weekly at Chef Chow's, but that mostly because we all need a late night dinner on Fridays. I think Zenna's is one of the best new restaurants around, but is still undiscovered. I eat out almost every night and last night it was in the So. End at The Union Bar and Grill and tonight it was at Teatro's, but the local places I go to more frequently. I'm sure every area has it's own local special places. O'Leary's always eluded me.

                                      1. Fuloon, hands down in Malden.

                                        1. The old Kendall Cafe... I loved that place. This may be the start of a new thread, but has anyone been to its replacement? I can't remember the name.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: birdy30

                                            Yes, at Hungry Mother, shared apps of fried oysters(2 w/slaw between) & 1 bbq quail(yum) and large entree of cornmeal catfish. Too full to try the chocolate cardamon pot de creme or rhubarb sorbet & didn't want to sleep through the 7:30 movie. Service was excellent, & I love the atmosphere. We ate at one of the high little tables in the bar area vs. the dining room upstairs. I'm going back next week w/some MIT folks who haven't been there yet. http://www.hungrymothercambridge.com/...

                                            1. re: Taralli

                                              There is a thread for Hungry Mother you can check out here:


                                          2. South End: Franklin Cafe (if the wait's not too long), Don Ricardo's (though drinks are limited to beer and wine), J.J. Foley's (theoretically serves cocktails, though most patrons drink beer), Anchovies (if the wait's not too long). Nice to see Coda getting some local love here.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              //Nice to see Coda getting some local love here.//

                                              Harumph. :))

                                              1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                The ghost of Tim's refuses to lie quiet. It moans, "My burrrger was better! And paaay your taxes!"

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  (In best Dana Carvey voice):

                                                  "In myyyyyyyyyyyyy day, we had good burgers, and they were made of beef and sawdust and overdue tax bills, and we LIKED it!"

                                                  BTW, I swallowed my contempt and ate at Coda fairly recently.

                                                  I actually sorta-kinda recommended it to a poster the other day.

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    I second MC's motion I WANT MY TIM'S BURGERS BACK!!!
                                                    But growin up in Rossie my dad always used to take me to "political meetings" with him at The Halfway Cafe in Dedham ( all the others ones are poor imitations) Still to this day one of my fav spots. Best salad dressing in the world. And yes the steamers are acctually reccomended. Great people great food good drinks and of course as always cheap.

                                                    1. re: Quinn823

                                                      To be fair, I think it's Bostonbob3 who is first keeper of the flame at the eternal Tim's Tavern memorial.

                                                      I really miss Tim's, too, but I have forgiven Coda for being the place that took over its old location. I think Coda is very good on its own merits (much of the food is really good and reasonably priced, the wine list is terrific, the bartending is solid, even the burger is respectable, if no Tim's burger), and I'm really grateful that it wasn't made into a Sibling Rivalry kind of place.

                                                      It's good to know that some Halfway Cafes are better than others. They didn't do themselves any favors in my book by hiring Eddie Andelman as a spokesman a few years back.

                                              2. The Independent, Union Sq, Somerville. Great tap selection, low-key place, solid food that's occasionally excellent. I do miss "eat" though; that place was the perfect neighborhood foodie joint.

                                                6 Replies
                                                  1. re: heathermb

                                                    Me too. eat was one of the first real neighborhood restaurants where I knew the staff and became a regular. And the Tir na Nog, but that was usually for a liquid meal, although their burger was great. I'm hoping that Highland Kitchen turns into my local place, but for now the lines are too long!!!

                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                      As one of the former staff, I miss EAT too....

                                                  2. re: franksnbeans

                                                    I second the Independent and agree with the assessment. Wish they changed up the sandwiches a bit more, but their specials can be so wonderful.

                                                    1. re: ClippyZ

                                                      I too enjoy the Indy, although often go for a liquid dinner more than anything. I used to enjoy their cheese plate, but now it's been whittled down to just two cheeses and not quite enough to make it worth ordering in my book. They do have some tasty fries, too, though!

                                                    2. re: franksnbeans

                                                      I'm currently go between The Independent and Highland Kitchen. Agree that The Independent could change up the sandwiches more often, although I'd probably still cave in and go for the burger with fried egg. It calls to me in my sleep. As does the super tasty chicken at Highland.

                                                    3. When I lived in Porter Square, I had two favorite neighborhood spots: Christopher's for upscale burgers and craft beer, Blue Fin for reliably good sushi. I was at each of them almost weekly.

                                                      Since the big move to Davis (weird how a half mile can actually feel so gigantic in these parts), I haven't found a suitable replacement. Chow-wise, Johnny D's is no Christopher's, and Yoshi's and the Japanese upstarts around the Square are certainly no Blue Fin. Glad the good weather is returning; I'm looking forward to more frequent forays back to my old stomping ground for no-fuss weekday dinners.

                                                      1. Guido's, 13 Belmont St., Watertown. Wonderful home made meatballs and sausages, plus this area's ubiquitous steak tips done just as I ask for them. Bartenders who treat us very well. Friendly patrons, including a softball team or two in the evening. Some might say it's a dive, but for us, it's a nice, casual, friendly place to hang out and watch the game.

                                                        Charlie's Kitchen, Harvard Square. With the caveat that we go *only* in the summer, when school is not in session. Twin lobster rolls with waffle fries for $11, generous bartenders, good jukebox.

                                                        Deep Ellum, Allston. Max is a top-notch mixologist. Their food is a wee pricey for preparation that's just "all right" in my book, but it's the warm, friendly vibe that inspires us to stop in, if we're in the neighborhood.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: dianalily

                                                          Waterfront cafe for pizza and pitchers.

                                                          1. re: dianalily

                                                            Oh, God, Guido's. Thanks for reminding me about that place! I used to work around the block from there and hit that place a lot at lunch (and after work). Food was ok--nothing special IMO--but it was more about having a good time and a lot of laughs over a few beers.

                                                            1. re: dianalily

                                                              Guido's is technically in Cambridge :) Other than that, I second all of this.

                                                            2. Not a cheapy place, but I rather like the bar Green St for the pub feel.

                                                              1. Well, it used to be CF Donovans, but we've already been down that road, so I guess it would have to be Amhreins. After all, the chef was originally from Donovans and the menu is very similar it's just not as convenient. Perfect spot for anything from a sandwich to fried clams or prime rib. My only complaint there is that they charge $9 for a sambucca which I think is ludicrous! Fat Cat could definitely be on my list, but they've gotten so popular they need a larger space. So, I guess I have to agree with another poster and say that the Waterfront is the pefect neighborhood spot. Love their pizza, the fried olives and the overall feel of the place. Plenty of tvs for the sports fan.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Pegmeister

                                                                  $9 for a shot? At Amhreins?


                                                                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                                    I hope at least it was Molinari and not that ersatz Sambuca Romana

                                                                    1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                      I wish it had been Molinari, but it was not, and not even a decent pour. It makes no sense because their wine prices are reasonable even if they don't have the best wine selection. I believe it was just $6 at Durty Nellies yesterday, but I kind of forget.

                                                                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                        Amhrein's has redeemed themselves. When I stopped in for dinner the other night, the bartender immediately came over and told me that the computer had brought up the wrong price the last time I was in. So, he bought a round of drinks. Fair enough. Now, on to the lobster pie. In an effort to make their lobster pie stand out they've kicked it up a bit and added a topping of newburg sauce. There's less crumbs and plenty of lobster and for $21 fairly priced. It may be too rich for some, but I'm sure they would hold the sauce if you asked.

                                                                  2. In Quincy, I seem to be spending a lot of dollars at Blue-22 Bar and Grille. The food is a Asian/American comfort food fusion which is delicious. They have house-made potstickers and killer hoisin-basted baby back ribs. Or, I get the Italian Sausage Sliders, which are mini sausage and pepper sandwiches, along with an order of Meatloaf, which has a shitake mushroom gravy over it.

                                                                    It's got that industrial-chic atmosphere going, with lots of flat panel tv's around for watching the game. I'm not much of a cocktail drinker, so I can only say that the bar there is always hopping with people and my friends seem to enjoy the drinks.


                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                                      Blue 22 has been on my list, but parking is always such a hassle up that way. Once Fat Cat came into the picture, I kind of forgot about Blue 22. I have, however, heard a lot of good things about Blue 22, and those ribs sound like they could be a good to go order.

                                                                      1. re: Pegmeister


                                                                        There's parking in the lot behind Blue22, and I've never had problems parking on the streets around the church. Also, you can park at the Ross garage and just walk a couple of blocks over. It's worth checking out sometime, you'd probably like it, if you like Fat Cat.

                                                                        1. re: mwk

                                                                          Thanks for the update on parking. It's been on my list for a bit. I guess I always thought those lots were for the T. There's a few other places I want to check out in the square. The newly opened Trattoria Alba, since I liked the old location and Jury, especially since they have the big lot across from the courthouse.

                                                                    2. As a South Ender my neighborhood spots are; The Delux, Anchioves, Toro, J.J. Foleys & Giacamos. While Delux, Achioves and Foleys are all kind of "divey" I really miss living in Dorchester and having the Banshee as my local Flan O'Briens was my local when I lived on the hill and J.J. Foley's Kingston St. was my local when I lived in Southie (Odd not to have a Southie local, though it may have been Shenangins in a pinch)

                                                                      1. Union Street Grill is pretty good, and the only choice in Newton Centre. In Boston as a whole I'd choose Publick House as the best neighborhood spot (though I do very much like Washington Square Tavern also).

                                                                        Other candidates I'd suggest would be: the Burren, Shay's in Harvard Square, the Field, Cambridge Brew Pub, Bukowski's Inman Square and Back Bay, the Other Side, Sunset Grill, Beacon Hill Pub, Neptune (I'd probably put Neptune on any list, given the opportunity), and Jacob Wirth.

                                                                        Looking forward to other suggestions.

                                                                        1. A couple in the Burbs...51 Main St in Maynard and Walden Grille in Concord. Both are great places for a drink or dinner at the bar. The Colonial Inn in Concord has an interesting bar too, with live Jazz at 8 every night.

                                                                          1. Highland Kitchen. Confirmed by my delicious dinner and cocktails tonight. Pulled pork sandwich - check. Aviation - double check. Deviled eggs were delicious too. Happy birthday Joe!

                                                                            1. I really need to get to Highland Kitchen - meanwhile, favorites in the near suburbs that fit this bill are Za and Something Savory in Arlington (though wine and beer only - it's Arlington so the mediocre cocktails are only at faux upscale spots with unreliable food...still searching for the whole package in Arlington...or Belmont ...or Lexington...or Winchester...).

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: rlh

                                                                                I went to Highland Kitchen for the first time last week. Really nice vibe, the bartending and service were both lovely, but I thought the food was pretty bad. The beet salad was ok, but the fish and chips was disgusting. All batter, no fish, and the fries were greasy, little, undercooked fingers. There was nothing special about the cole slaw, and the tartar sauce was missing. Did I just order wrong? I surprise myself with how often I do that.

                                                                                  1. re: lisa13

                                                                                    Actually, I haven't been in quite a while (since they've had a full bar, in fact) - is that a recommendation? - if so, what are your favorite cocktails and eats there? I'd happily give it another try-long ago experience was that there were far better values to be had by driving a few miles (high prices without being distinguished/impressive).

                                                                                    1. re: rlh

                                                                                      I have not been in three or four months, but we always have a nice time when we go, so I would certainly recommend trying it again. Service has been top notch, and the food solid. It is not overly creative, nor is it completely mundane. I especially appreciate their use of many locally sourced, high quality ingredients. Flavors are often fresh and not overly complicated, and they just don't seem to screw up - I've never had anything that was off in any way (in terms of texture, seasoning, flavor combos, etc), which is actually pretty special, in my book.

                                                                                      As for recommendations, as I look over the current menu, not too many items look familiar, but I can definitely vouch for the swordfish with gingered sweet potatoes and onion rings (which are matchstick thin, crispy and insanely good) - note they leverage the goodness of butter in this one, so it may be advisable to go light on the apps if you order it? A friend had the artic char and raved, but I didn't try it myself. I trust her taste, though.

                                                                                      I am chagrined to say I don't recall what I've had specifically in the way of drinks, but they've never done me wrong when I ask them to surprise me. My taste runs in the direction of not at all sweet, though perhaps fruity (but truly, not sweet!), and not tasting of straight alcohol (I really don't get why so many places think using an overwhelming proportion of hard alcohol in most drinks is "good"). I don't know if that helps?

                                                                                      heck, just try it. If you don't want to make a big deal about it, sit at the bar and have a drink and a snack - its a very comfortable place. I wish it were in my neighborhood.

                                                                                1. Shay's in Harvard Square- I havent eaten there in a while- though I really enjoyed a burger there a couple of years back- but its one of my favorite places to grab a drink. Un assuming, hole in the wall...fantastic

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                                                                    Hm. I've heard dismaying things about the burger at Shay's. Is it true that it's baked? <shudder>

                                                                                    I used to love to sit and have a pint back in the day, but I never thought their food was good. Actually I never thought about their food at all.

                                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                                      Honestly- I had their burger...5 years ago? It was a tremendously hot day and I may have been delirious...I remember it being good- but that should probably be taken with a HUGE grain of salt.

                                                                                      So I suppose that Shays can be chalked up more as a great watering hole than a place to get a tasty meat at the same time...I do love their drink selections though!

                                                                                      1. re: yumyum

                                                                                        I think the burgers at Shay's are great; in fact I *save* my few and far between burger allotments for them. The patties are handpacked and prepared in a convection oven (space and some other constraints I believe); they're juicy and delicious and served with hand cut wedge style fries. As an aside, their homemade salsa is also quite tasty.

                                                                                    2. Well, I live on the South Shore, so for me the neighborhood spot I most often go to is Cronins, near the Shipyard in Quincy. Great steak tips and bar pizza, cheap beers and burger specials that are always a good deal (usually burger/fries/beer combo for about $8). Plus they have the greatest web url out there: www.steaktips.com

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chowciao

                                                                                        One additional note about Cronin's--the people who work there are incredibly nice. I always love going there, knowing that both the food and the service will be good.

                                                                                        1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                                          Cronin's is great. From the outside, it looks like it should be in a Dennis Lehane novel, but it's very friendly and clean the the steak tips are excellent.

                                                                                      2. Oriental de Cuba in JP is my favorite. The food is great and the atmosphere is really casual and relaxed probably because mostly neighborhood people go there instead of hipsters, college kids, and tourists.

                                                                                        1. Here are a couple in the semi-burb's that are very reliable:

                                                                                          Buff's Pub
                                                                                          317 Washington St
                                                                                          Newton, MA 02458
                                                                                          (617) 332-9134

                                                                                          O'Hara's Food & Spirits
                                                                                          1185 Walnut St.
                                                                                          Newton Highlands, Ma

                                                                                          87 Bigelow Avenue
                                                                                          Watertown, Massachusetts
                                                                                          Great steak tips.

                                                                                          164 Belmont St.
                                                                                          Watertown, MA
                                                                                          Excellent thin crust pizza and on Thursday's they do a 1/2 price pie with a pitcher.

                                                                                          1. Just saw a couple nights ago that Pete's Pub/Durty Nelly's is starting a bar menu next week (they already serve breakfast and lunch, but nothing after 3:00 pm).

                                                                                            Anyway, looks like burgers, fish and chips, shepard's pie, fries, that sort of thing.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                                                              Well, no more Haymarket pizza for you! I was in there last week when Anita was working and she was making breakfast for a few people. They really don't have the set up for it though.

                                                                                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                                                                                Can't wait to see Linda cooking.

                                                                                                I say "see," because I won't be eating it. :))

                                                                                            2. Another Highland Kitchen supporter!! Went last night for the first time, and was absolutely thrilled. Perfect neighborhood spot. Great food, nice people, fabulous music, and tasty drinks. What more can you ask for?? PS: The table next to mine even shared their fries.

                                                                                              1. My SO and I like to go to East Coast Grill. Tuna taco, veg plate & a couple of ribs.... always sit at the bar.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: betta

                                                                                                  I live on the border


                                                                                                  in the SE I have to agree with Coda and early in the week I like sitting at the bar at petit robert

                                                                                                  in Southie I am now hugely addicted to St. Alphonzo's however beer and wine only and not a bar

                                                                                                2. DBar in Dorchester! The food is great, the service is pleasant. There's never a long wait. They also have a wonderful brunch.

                                                                                                  1. Kouzina - Newton
                                                                                                    Stellina - Watertown
                                                                                                    Delfino - Roslindale
                                                                                                    Sweet Basil - Needham
                                                                                                    La Morra - Brookline

                                                                                                    1. One new one for me: Vecchia Roma on Washington Street in Newton. No dress code, mostly locals, good prices, outstanding (and authentic) Italian cuisine, and a chef/owner who truly loves what he's doing (and is quite a character, by the way!).

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                                                        Good addition to the list, forgot about Vecchia Roma. A few years ago, when our kitchen was being renovated, we ate there quite often. ALWAYS a good/great meal at very reasonable prices. Run by folks who really care about what they're doing.

                                                                                                        1. re: TheTrout

                                                                                                          The desserts that they bring over from Italy are pure heaven (I love their profiteroles and bombas).

                                                                                                        2. re: hiddenboston

                                                                                                          Vecchia Roma is at 398 Watertown St in Newton. Fantastic food coming out of that little place.

                                                                                                          1. re: ShakeNBake

                                                                                                            Sorry about the mistake on the address. (I have no idea why I said Washington Street.) Yes, it's on Watertown Street in "The Lake," a few blocks west of the Watertown line.

                                                                                                        3. I second Anchovies. But if you can forgo the drink and settle for a few glasses of wine, there isn't a better spot in my neighborhood--the South End--than Giacomo's. The prices are great, the food is delicious, the portions are generous, the service is friendly...I have eaten all over the SE and really, nothing beats Giacomo's.

                                                                                                          1. The Squealing Pig on Smith Street, just off of Huntington Ave is a great place to hang. They have a great selection of brews, tap and bottle. Food is just ok though.

                                                                                                            1. Halfway cafe-Watertown good steamers and burgers and wings (free popcorn)
                                                                                                              Fiorellas-Newton good red sauce italian. My favorite veal parm.
                                                                                                              Buffs pub-Newton best wings I've ever had.
                                                                                                              Harrys-Westborough Great fried clams and breakfast all day.
                                                                                                              Kennedys in marlborough- Very good pub and great service. My favorite fried oyster roll Very good french onion soup.
                                                                                                              La Cantina-Framingham- Good dinners good service and all you can eat salad with there own excellent salad dresing.
                                                                                                              carbone's-Hopkinton-food is great. You start with addictive cheese and crackers. Red sauce Italian. Never had a bad meal here. Service is beyond good.