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Dec 29, 2008 05:51 AM

Boston Chow Myth-Busters

People. I love this board; it is invaluable in helping me to invest wisely in my Boston dining experiences. Having read the board obsessively for a while now I have noted what appears to be Boston Chow ‘conventional wisdom’, I wonder if any of them might be myths that have grabbed ahold of us.

For example: “Pizza from Regina’s N. End location is much better than satellite locations”. May be absolutely true … or is it a myth reinforced by the over-all feel of authenticity in the N. End location? Has anyone had the time and inclination to do anything approaching a rigorous test? Could a S. Station slice actually be similar to or as good as a ‘real’ N. End slice?

Another example: “Oysters (of a particular variety e.g. wellfleet, pemaquid, island creek) tasting ‘better’ at one establishment vs. another”. On this one I have a little more confidence, I’d imagine short of being seriously mistreated oysters of a particular variety are essentially sealed containers and taste the same no matter where they’re served. Can this be tested? Seems like it would be fun.

Do we have any shared/widely-held beliefs on this board that you question? Which ones? Can they be, have they been tested?

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  1. The reason NE Reginas tastes better is the oven. The new locations use standard ovens as you would find anywhere. Same can be said of Pepes.
    Oysters, as long as they are stored properly and served fresh and opend properly should taste the same.
    Kelly's at Revere beach tastes better cause of the old fryalators and of course the salt sea air.
    If you think the same product should taste the same in multiple locations, look at wine and scotch terrior.

    15 Replies
    1. re: trufflehound

      On the Kelly's question; Yumyum turned me on to their excellent, and I mean excellent, lobster rolls this summer. Do the other locations' lobster rolls measure up?

      BTW, finally had the Alive and Kickin' lobster sandwich this week. Thought it had too much mayo....

      1. re: galleygirl

        I can attest that the lobster rolls at the Kelly's on Rte.1 south & the Fellsway definitely does not compare to the one at Kelly's on The Beach. I grew up with the ones at The Beach and they're the best!

        As for Alive and Kickin', I've had those sandwiches twice now and I just don't get it. Why toast? Why all that mayo?

        The only Regina's I've had is at the Rte. 1 north location and when I order "well done" the bottom crust is burned and the simple top - usually just sauce and a bit of cheese - is dry as a bone. Never again. Think I better try the Malden Station Landing.

        Mc Slim: Do you mean the Station Landing condo complex in Medford?

        1. re: Gio

          Station Landing in Medford, that's it, right near the Wellington MBTA Orange Line stop. (I get my M-towns mixed up sometimes.) It has a Regina, a Japanese restaurant (Yoki), Qdoba, Not Your Average Joe's, Kelly's Roast Beef, Cold Stone Creamery, and Starbuck's.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Thanks! That's just a Hoot 'N a Holler down the Fellsway from Melrose.

            1. re: Gio

              Definitely worth a trip to that Pizzeria Regina. I love the character of the North End original, but the pizza, if ordered well done, is just as good in Medford.

              1. re: yumyum

                Hmm, I haven't tried ordering the pizza well done in Medford, but next time I will.

                Without having done that, I would say the North End one wins, hands down.

                1. re: ginafly

                  Having ordered the pizza well done at the Medford Regina, I think the difference between that and the NE location is detectable but not tremendous. It's still and excellent pizza. That said, I feel the ambiance of the NE location is totally lost in the Medford location, which is much less bustling, and feels a bit like an Uno's (sort of cavernous and full of shiny hard wood). Still, I go there once in a while and enjoy it.

                2. re: yumyum

                  Thanks for the corroboration, yumyum. Medford it is. Or is that Meffa.....BTW: where IS that girl?

                  1. re: yumyum

                    While I agree that Medford is the best of the satellite locations, in my several experiences there the pizza consistently isn't even close to the NE location.

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      gabatta, i have had the medford PR a number of times and i agree w/ you 100%.

          2. re: trufflehound

            Great thread, Carty.

            At times, we order in P.R. at the office - we used to go with the Quincy Market satellite and the crust was soggy, heavy, gross. We insisted on a change to the NE location - the crust is noticeably better, crisp, well-cooked.

            Another more personal myth I would like to see confirmed or busted -

            When the older woman is working at Tacos Lupita, the food is always great.
            When the guy is working at Tacos Lupita, the food is subpar, you get bits of gristle in the meat, etc.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              That's an interesting one. I've only been served by the guy a few times, usually early evenings and it always seemed to be busy. I don't remember it being subpar when he was there, but I don't remember ever thinking it was great either, which I often do at lunchtimes.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                whoo, boy. I'm not really a Mexican food fan but the grilled pork burrito I had at Tacos Lupita (prepared by the ladies) was amazing. What's in that homemade hot sauce?

                1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                  The green or the red?

                  Salsa verde is just basic cilantro-based sauce, but the rojo has cinnamon, cloves and maybe allspice. Mmmm.

                  1. re: yumyum

                    The red sauce is friggin' addictive, ain't it?

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. I like the general idea of this thread--I'm a big fan of "Mythbusters", enjoy the scientific method, and think that a taste test to verify or disprove long-held beliefs is a great idea. It's a bit difficult to do some of this, as you can't compare a hot pizza from 2 places that are miles apart. But I think that a "re-test" of some of the "old favorites" is in order.

                I've recently re-visited Regina in the N. End, and I've also tried Regina's in Braintree and Providence. The suburban locations aren't bad at all, but the N. End location is better IMHO. I suspect it's greater care in the ingredients, and I agree that a huge part is the quality and heat of the oven.

                As to oysters, I suspect that freshness, turnover, and proper handling make some difference in oyster quality. The only other difference could be the sauces that go along with them.

              2. I think the Regina's issue is one of only very few conventional wisdom bits here (and it is true). More pervasive is some posters claims that there is a consensus on opinons here, which of course is NOT ever true.

                1. The Pizzeria Regina one is not a myth (see Trufflehound's post here), but the difference between the quality at the North End and that of the other locations might not quite be as big a gap as some folks think. I had a couple of slices from the South Station location recently, and they were excellent.

                  Another myth is that suburban restaurants generally aren't as good as restaurants in the city. I've had some meals in the suburbs (Allora, Vecchia Roma, Sweet Chili, Lucia, Mango II, Blue Ribbon BBQ, Great Chow [Abington], Pellino's, Loco Tapas, etc.) that have rivaled some of the best meals I've had in the city.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    I'd throw in Lumiere into the mix for fantastic suburban restos.

                    1. re: TPistrix

                      Agreed, and add Il Capriccio and La Campania to the list.

                    2. re: hiddenboston

                      I actually do believe that on an overall average basis, suburban restaurants are not as good for the money as careful choices in the city (which possibly extends to Rt 128 in my world but is more like Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline - maybe).

                      That said, I would rate the food and service relative to price at Catch in Winchester and Moulton's in Medford among the very highest available - Za in Arlington is also impressive for casual dining.

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        I've actually found that myth true. Been disappointed with Sweet Chilli, Blue Ribbon (barely counts as barbecue), lumiere, Il Capriccio and La Campania.

                        Its getting pretty hard to get me to take a chance on a suburban restaurant now. This is sad, and I hope it improves, as I imagine I'll be moving out that direction at some point.

                        1. re: BostonCharles

                          Interesting - I'm not a bug fan of Lumiere (they often seem cranky), but oddly enough, I did have one of the better steak frites of the last several years there - dry aged 60 days on site, etc.

                          1. re: enhF94

                            Never heard of anyone dry aging a steak for 60 days. Even 30-40 is considered a long time.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Yeah, I was shocked - and happy not to see the 60-day-old steak pre-trimming, for that matter. It restored my interest in beef after several years' chicken-centricity. Sadly, it was a special.

                              1. re: enhF94

                                60 days? no way. unless the cut started out the size of a house, it would have turned into a raisin. i think the server was exaggerating.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Shrunk to a raisin and way too tangy/gamey at that point. My sentiments exactly. Never even heard of a steak aged 60 days.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    I haven't had it at Lumiere, but I have absolutely seen/heard of steaks aged 60 days. Possible the person misremembered, but it's not out of the question.

                                    1. re: TPistrix

                                      It's possible; this was several years ago. OTOH, google will get you there (the top link for me was... chowhound. twice.)

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      I saw dry-aged bone-in strips at Whole Foods with more than sixty days. It's not really that unusual. After about 4 weeks the meat stops shrinking, but there's more loss due to the decomposition - you have to cut more away. Whether it would be too gamey depends on the conditions of the aging room. Hams, jowls, etc are aged way longer than that (albeit salted) and they're not shrunken.

                          2. re: hiddenboston

                            If you're down in the Loco (tapas) area, keep Hayashi (sushi, Japanes, & Korean) in mind too.

                          3. As far as Oysters go, many of the common names Wellfleet and Blue Point are regions not a particular bay. So there can be a lot of variation in taste in the same oyster. Blue Points once came from one particular area. Now they are from multiple areas and can be from CT or Long Island. Wellfleets can be from Pleasant bay, Chipman's Cove or Indian Neck (three distinct salinities). Even the beloved Island Creek is a co-op. That can be mean 6 different growers in Duxbury and possibly Barnstable.

                            As a theoretical example:
                            Great Bay can buy one Farmed Wellfeet Oyster and have a unique taste but it's menued as Wellfleet. B&G can buy a dredged Wild Wellfleet and it has a completely other end of the spectrum taste and it's menued as a Wellfleet.

                            So absolutely yes, oysters with the same name can taste different at two different restaurants.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Richard Hurts

                              I'm a big fan of Island Creek Oysters and living in the area I'm familiar with their operation. There may be 6 different farmers but they're all farming a small area of Duxbury Bay.

                              I'm not sure where you got the Barnstable info but I believe it's incorrect.