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Needham's Dining Scene

Ok People, It is time to set the record straight with Needham and their plethora of dining options. I want the low down on all the latest news/rumblings

Spiga- Weird location. New chef? reopening? is it even good?

Petit Robert- First month's grades? I was greatly let down

Pho Pasteur/New mexican restaurant. How long has Pho even been closed? Rumor has it that a mexican second location place is opening there soon..

Flour bakery???? Major rumor they are coming? that would be awesome

Quince Bistro space.. what is going in there?

Fava for sale! are they still open??

How are the new dessert options.. The custard place vs. the Gelato place. Who's been, like/dislikes?

Village fish- fairly new.. does that place fill up??

The old stand by's Masala Art, Sweet Basil, not your average joes...

Any others Im forgetting?

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  1. Spiga to re-open on April 13th with Marisa Iocca the new Head Executive Chef; was bad, hopefully it will be much better.

    Pho Pasteur location was supposed to re-open as Tu Y O; they have a location in Somerville; my guess is that this is on hold or not happening.

    Quince to be Pomodoro's 3rd location.

    Custard Place: Just ok and expensive; haven't been to the Gelato place.

    Village Fish: very average, not nearly as good as when they first opened in Brookline about 20 years ago.

    Sweet Basil: Very good but way too much fat/cream/butter in foods.

    Not Your Average Joe's: good burgers and fries.

    What you are forgetting:

    Wild Willy's: decent burgers, fries and onion rings but Five Guys is better.
    Rice Barn: very good Thai
    Fuji: decent Sushi
    Blue on Highland: Not good
    Bertuccis: well, you know, it's Bertuccis, over-priced, average pizzas
    Sweet Tomatoes Pizza
    Acapulco trying to go into where Ground Round was

    7 Replies
    1. re: bakerboyz

      OMG Pomodoro going into Needham. Great News!!
      Does anyone know if Fava is open?
      Have had some decent meals at Petit Robert.
      Have been waiting for TuY O- does anyone inside track on this?
      Where is Bertucci and Sweet Tomatoes in Needham????
      Stone Hearth Pizza is pretty good.
      Ditto on custard place (and reall;y does not taste any different than ice cream).

      1. re: emilief

        Bertucci's is in the small plaza along Highland Ave where Wild Willy's is (was Bai Thong), kind of across from Needham HS; Sweet Tomatoes is on Chestnut Street going towards Roche Bros. on the left (was formerly a convenience store). I forgot about Stone Hearth, good pizza.

        1. re: emilief

          Had a geat meal at Fava last night, inexpencive too.

          1. re: emilief

            For the record, the Pomodoro in Needham is of no relation to the one in Brookline Village. The latter asked the former to stop using the name, but I saw the awning with then name on it yesterday crisply blowing in the breeze.

            24 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

            1. re: CookieLee

              Actually I thought the Brookline and Needham locations are affiliated and they were both asked by the one in the North End, which is not affiliated, to stop using the name. Is that incorrect?

              1. re: TomH

                I believe the Brookline & the North End locations are affliated, not the Needham one.

          2. re: bakerboyz

            Ok-I have to ask. Ive been to Blue twice now- and while neither time have I been blown away-it certainly hasn't been bad. Service can be slow, but nothing terrible. What am I missing? Why the bad reviews?

          3. I wish we still had the Big Dipper - Toscanini and Steve's ice cream within walking distance was a big selling point on the town for me. The new gelato place didn't blow me away - kind of grainy and too sweet for my taste. The chain place in the Natick Mall (Melt) is the best gelato I've had in metrowest. Nice and gooey.

            1. We had lunch at Petit Robert this past Sunday, our first visit there. Service was awkward, uninformative, and sloppy, at best. SO and I both ordered a soup that was not the one delivered; it was okay, still. She had a salmon croissant that was okay; I had a sardine baguette that was pathetic - small piece of sardine that looked like they had been scraped up off the counter and dumped on the bread.

              1. I went to Masala Art last night, and had possibly the most mind-blowingly good cocktail I've ever had. I didn't realize that they had a bizarre interactive method for concocting drinks (sounds a bit like what I've heard Drink is like) involving fruit purees and spices, but I had something with anejo tequila (didn’t catch which brand), grapefruit juice, passion fruit puree, cardamom, saffron, mace, and probably some other stuff.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nsenada

                  We almost went to Masala Art last night, but ended up going to the new Bella Luna/Milky Way instead. I've heard from a few people that the food there is really good...

                2. We've had dinner at Spiga twice recently, both before and after the chef change. Enjoyed both. Thread ongoing here:


                  1. Masala Art has a great buffet for lunch.

                    Blue on Highland, went there once. Don't remember much about my meal so it couldn't have been too good or really bad.

                    I love Sweet Basils. Great calamari and mussels.

                    Gianni's used to make phenomenal sandwich's but has become average since it was sold. At least they still use Boar's Head cold cuts.

                    Lastly there is the Fuji steak house. I despise the place. Go there once to see the show and that's it. They massacre good meat on the grill. Why would anybody dice up tenderloin and cook it until its grey? The last time I was there I tried the sushi and it wasn't much better. Unfortunately I get dragged there for business lunch's once or twice a year.

                    1. Had dinner at Spiga the other night. The authentic charm is gone, and now everything's just a little too overdone and fussy-- not as good at all.

                      Cafe Spasso has delicious, high quality gelato.

                      Don't miss Stone Hearth Pizza. This is not your average pizza joint with iceberg lettuce salads. SHP supports lots of local farms, the food is fresh and absolutely delicious. There's monthly salad and pizza specials that capitalize on the best of the season.

                      And last but by no means least, is the best little gem in Needham, the Rice Barn. I eat there/do take out frequently and think their food is terrific, always beautifully presented and so far above your average Thai place. Don't let the name fool you; this place is no barn. It's sophisticated yet comfortable. Great for a romantic dinner or a night out with your girlfriends. Nice wine list too. Also had a shower there for 40 people this weekend. Both owners, who are sisters and lovely women who really know what they're doing, were present to ensure everything went so far beyond my expectations. The food, presentation and service were great--not an empty water glass to be found the whole time. Everyone loved it, and I highly recommend it for a meal, catering or a party.

                      Rice Barn
                      1037 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: griller88

                        I agree, Rice Barn is a little hidden gem worth checking out. They have roti canai too!

                      2. Pomodoro will be opening fairly soon in the old Quince spot and Tu Y O finally has a sign up after about 8 months saying that they will be opening in July.

                        1. The Stone Hearth Pizza has great original pizzas and they use fresh organic produce from local farmers which for some is a plus. We often go there for take out pizza from Wellesley...

                          Spasso has better ice cream than the custard place. The sorbets are delicious, the best cassis sorbet in a while.

                          We've been about 4 times to Le Petit Robert, the great thing is that they close at 11pm (we're late dinners) and they have good food. It's a bistrot so don't ask for high scale. Service is sometime a bit unsure but other than that the daily specials are always great and the menu traditionally French. Their Grand Marnier Souffle is huge but to die for!!!

                          Fava... eugh. What a deception! We found the place super gloomy.
                          We came for a 8pm reservation, there were abut 4 full tables and we were given the worst, wedged in front the fire exit. Since when do you put a table in front of a fire exit door????
                          The appetizers were terrible, main courses bla and we quit for dessert. Supposedly this is a high scale restaurant... yes price for that "classification" are low but sorry the food is not worth it.

                          Sweet Basil takes no reservation, cash only and yes you can bring your own wine. Totally worth either waiting or coming later. The plates are huge so you'll have a box to take home and the food was delicious even the day after ;)

                          Rice barn is our next on the list.

                          1. Anyone have the latest on the Pomodoro and Tu y Yo openings?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: GastroSpeakBoston

                              I saw a sign on the door at Tu y Yo, I thought it said they were hoping to open in July. Not sure on Pomodoro, I walk by every morning and haven't noticed any activity from the street.

                              1. re: GastroSpeakBoston

                                What is the back story on Pomodoro? I just saw the sign this morning. Is it open? Is it any good? We need something that Isn't off-the-charts expensive, and has solid food...kid friendly would be nice, but not required.

                              2. Went to Petit Robert this week, dinner on Wednesday for a group. Duck pate was good. Bouillabaisse was ok. Head waiter was very good, but the folks who brought the food had no idea where to put it. A chorus of "who got the...?" that made me painfully aware that I was in a suburban family restaurant. Oh well.

                                1. Acapulcos reportedly moving into the old Ground Round site near 128 and Tu y Yo going ahead with plans to open on Chestnut Street.


                                  1. i think my husband and i are the only two people who don't like sweet basil. totally overrated! their sauce is awful...will never go back. we've had great meals at village fish, but it is pricey. enjoyed masala art even tho i'm not a big indian food eater. we liked rice barn, and look forward to pomodoro and the new mexican place down the street. been to spiga several times..it's not for kids (they can't really accommodate 4-yr olds) .. the food is decent but the service is terrible.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: lisa551

                                      Actually, you are not alone. My major complaint is that their sauces are way too heavy and fatty and not what I would describe as delicate at all. If you have ever taken leftovers home and seen how much the sauces coagulate and harden the next day, it's enough to make you a little ill.

                                      1. re: bakerboyz

                                        we did have a lot of leftover, but i didn't even like it enough to bring home!

                                        1. re: lisa551

                                          You have more company. I really dislike their food. Kind of thick, gloppy and heavy with no discernible taste. Why do people wait in line for this place? And a $5 corckage fee- is that supposed to translate to fine dining?? The owner is very nice but the food and service are awful. Yes, we left the leftovers on the table. After a few tries, not going back.

                                          1. re: emilief

                                            Whether you like the place or not, $5 corkage is very reasonable. Most places in Massachusetts do not allow BYOW at all. Corkage in most cities starts at $15 per bottle and goes north from there.

                                            1. re: emilief

                                              You are not alone. I grew up in a very Italian family and spent my summers in Italy from grade school through college. Sweet Basil overdoes it --not awful, but good Italian food is about simple, fresh, quality ingredients. We go when friends want to, but I would rather do the North End, or even Delfino's in Roslindale. Am hoping Pomodoro is good--had to laugh at the story tonight that the owner of the North End and Brookline restaurants sent a letter to the Needham owner and the town to change its name. The Needham owner replied that you cannot trademark the word 'tomato!'

                                      2. What's the story with Pomodoro that just opened? Is it related to the ones in Brookline and North End. Apparently it is owned and managed by someone named Kevin Ryan but when I googled his name nothing comes up as far as a food background? Has anyone been yet? I stopped by to look at the menu and it looks fairly reasonably priced.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: bakerboyz

                                          Other discussions here (can;t remember where exactly) indicate no relation toPomodoro in Boston/ Brookline- too bad! Have not been yet.Did you look in to see if the space has been remodeled or is it like Quince???

                                          1. re: emilief

                                            Went last night to Pomodoro. I am told that the interior is the same as it was at Quince, however, as you walk in directly in front of you is a full bar with stools and a couple tables by the window. As is always the case with a "new" restaurant, the place was very full and very noisy but we got a table in the bar area which was much quieter...time will tell if they can maintain the business. The menu is pretty typical Italian-American: chicken or veal parm, eggplant parm, chicken or veal marsala, etc. Two of us ordered the chicken parm with linguini and one ordered seared scallops with lemon risotto. I was a little concerned when everything arrived in under 10 minutes, thinking to myself was this all cooked to order or was it pre-cooked and reheated? The chicken parm was quite large, one very large chicken breast half and though not spectacular, it was very good. The side of linguini with marinara...average. The seared scallops were 5-6 perfectly seared sea scallops and the person who got them said they were excellent and he also enjoyed the risotto. The chicken parm was $16.50 each and I believe the scallops around $21. We did not see our waitress after we were served our food until she came back to take the plates and as we were leaving one of the cooks was in the bar area close to the exit door with what looked like a big piece of breaded chicken breast in his hand "woofing" it down, not exactly the classiest of pictures. It was good not great...I would go back but wouldn't rush back.

                                        2. Walked by the old Sweet Rue space this morning, and I notice that they are finally doing some work in there. Anyone know if this is the rumored opening of Flour?

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: nsenada

                                            Wow...that would be fantastic! Ill be interested to hear....

                                            1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                              Turns out it's definitely not Flour, but they are open, and it looks like they have some good breakfast and lunch offerings. There's no name up yet, but I've heard they will focus on (groan) cupcakes, which, because it's in the greater Boston area, probably means the minimum starting bid will be $3 per. Have not yet confirmed this, but will stop in tomorrow morning or Saturday.

                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                aww drat! Thanks for the update-Ill try to check it out this weekend as well. Flour would have been a great addition.

                                                1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                                  I'm hopeful they are still moving in, perhaps somewhere else. On the plus side, supposedly a new Italian deli/grocery place is going in the old Verizon space (where the old Newport Creamery used to be). Imagine that, a wireless shop being replaced by a small grocery.

                                                  Newport Creamery
                                                  1077 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

                                                  1. re: nsenada

                                                    Wow-I love it! An Italian Grocer sounds almost too good to be true though! Thanks for the heads up- do they have any time frame on that?

                                                    1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                                      I don't have any details yet - it's in the "neighbor heard it from someone that was a board meeting" category, so I'll believe it when I see it. I'd be psyched if it was another Tutto Italiano outpost.

                                                      1. re: nsenada

                                                        There's a sign up on the space now - looks like a Comella's is moving in. The sign had a tomato on it that looks a bit like the Pomodoro one a few doors down. Not that they are in any position to complain about that, given their trademark issues.

                                          2. Just saw a poster for The Center Cafe (the Fava space) and am not too hopeful. It featured a photo of a burger and fries that looked like they came out of a Sisco catalog. Maybe it's just bad marketing.

                                            1. Comella's is finally open. A neighbor went and said they had some decent subs. I guess they had a bit of a wait just paying for their food, as the person behind the counter couldn't figure out the cash register.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                I've gone a few times since it openeed, and it's pretty good for industrial sized portions of lasagne and eggplant parm. Their homemade pasta of the day tends to be pretty good. The most amazing deal is the $5 pizza, which is large, and not mind blowingly good, but hits the spot (and you can't beat the price).

                                                1. re: nsenada

                                                  How was the texture of the pasta? We went to the West Newton Comella's a few times several years ago, and I have memories of overcooked pasta in the "mess", but I'm not sure how accurate my memory is.

                                                  1302 Washington St, Newton, MA 02465

                                                  1. re: bear

                                                    It was pretty good - definitely al dente (maybe even slightly underdone). It was a weird shape, if I remember right, like a multi-stranded rope about 1/4 inch thick. I had it on the side of some eggplant parm.

                                                    1. re: bear

                                                      My messes have been mushy as well. I guess it must depend on how long ago it was made / how long it's been sitting.

                                                    2. re: nsenada

                                                      Looks like they marked up the price on plain cheese pies - $10 now, which puts it much closer to Cowlick's, and gives the area's cheap pie title back to Virgilio's.

                                                  2. The Center Cafe where Fava used to be is opening tomorrow.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                      Anyone been to the Center Cafe yet? Curious to hear how it is. I notice they covered up the neat stone walls on the interior, that made Fava an interesting space.

                                                      1. re: nsenada

                                                        I went to the Center cafe on its second night. Food was decent (Tuna Burger was excellent), but the service was not surprisingly slow. I'm sure they'll work out the kinks. I'm more excited for Lizzy's Ice Cream (also in Waltham and Cambridge), which is coming where Spasso used to be. This is a very legitimate ice cream store for needham.

                                                        1. re: Chazari99

                                                          That's awesome on Lizzy's - I've had their ice cream in Cambridge, and that will certainly blow away the last two gelato joints in that space. Still sad I can't get the mix of Toscanini's burnt caramel and Herrell's chocolate pudding flavors as I used to at the Big Dipper. Very interested in trying Center Cafe - any idea if the ribs they advertise are actual barbecue?

                                                        2. re: nsenada

                                                          See my report regarding Sat. night visit, I thought that it was excellent. As I neither smelled nor saw an actual bbq smoker inside or out, I imagine the ribs are not authentic bbq. The onion rings, cheeseburger and fish and chips with homemade tarter sauce were all excellent.

                                                      2. Looks like Cakes Bakery and Cafe of Milton is leasing the old Abode space on Great Plain. They seem to have some good stuff, based on the Facebook page, good sandwiches, soups, and baked goods. I think they're aiming at being a "hangout," something Needham could definitely use: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Milton-...