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Do you create unique foods?

Flying in the face of "Chow Wisdom"

Eatin in Woostah Apr 10, 2009 08:24 AM

Because we'd never been and felt we were missing out on a quintessential old-school Massachusetts experience, my family and I went to Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus last weekend.

I'll admit it - I really liked it. The iceburg lettuce with red-onion salad was gigantic, the New York Strip was flavorful and perfectly cooked, and the beer was cold. Couldn't really have asked for a more satisfying or reasonably priced basic steak dinner.

What experiences have you had (either good or bad) that would contradict the generally good advice on Chowhound?

  1. s
    scratchie Feb 17, 2010 07:18 AM

    I'm still pretty new around here, so I guess I don't know all of the "Chow Wisdom", but based on what I have seen so far (esp. in this thread):

    Redbones - as someone else said, I've never had a bad meal here. A few years ago this place slipped to second place on my list (behind Blue Ribbon) but they're back on top now.

    Frank's - not exactly four-star dining but I like it. The steaks are just OK but I love the Greek salad (done the right way, with just tomatoes, onions and cucumbers), the French onion soup and the real mashed potatoes.

    And speaking of which, Jimmy's Steer House. Just the opposite. The sides and salads are very mediocre, but I've never gotten a bad steak at this place. Not on the same level as the Oak Room, obviously, but very very good for a neighborhood steak place.

    Greek pizza - haven't read too much about it here, but I imagine that everyone loves to turn up their nose at this Massachusetts classic. Obviously the quality varies, but when it's good, it's great. My favorite is the hamburger, salami and green pepper pizza at Villa House of Pizza in Arlington Heights. As good as any pizza I've ever eaten.

    I love Anna's Tacqueria.

    I like the No Name (esp. the chowder as others have mentioned) and will gladly eat there if I'm in the neighborhood.

    I haven't eaten at Fire & Ice in years, but I always had a good meal there. I'm not sure what there is to complain about with that place, unless it's gone way downhill. Obviously some people are not happy with the whole process, but if that's the case, you shouldn't go at all.

    None of these are places that I'd hold up as "Best of Boston" or "You've got to try these while you're in town" but they're all consistently enjoyable for me.

    And that's probably more than enough evidence for most of you to safely ignore any and all opinions I may put forth on these boards in the future.

    13 Replies
    1. re: scratchie
      MC Slim JB Feb 17, 2010 09:08 AM

      I grew up eating Greek-American pan pizza -- there was little else around -- so I have some nostalgia for it, but I've come to prefer other styles, especially thin-crust wood-oven pies.

      I think you have plenty of company here with a lot of those "likes". I was a No Name hater for years, got dragged back by a visiting friend, decided that fish chowder was pretty fine.


      1. re: MC Slim JB
        scratchie Feb 17, 2010 09:21 AM

        Greek pizza isn't my favorite kind of pizza, but when it's good, it's good. There's no rule that says you can only eat the one kind of pizza you like best, and there's no nostalgia required to enjoy Villa's pies.

        My favorite kind of pizza is probably thin-crust North End-style (i.e. Regina-style), but I'm not a big fan of the super-thin wood-fired pizzas that are so popular these days. That probably puts me in the minority around here, too, but my feeling is, if the crust is burnt, you've ruined it.

        1. re: scratchie
          MC Slim JB Feb 17, 2010 09:26 AM

          I mention nostalgia because I think a lot of folks who get into "Best Pizza" holy-war discussions are often simply arguing for whatever style they grew up with. I agree with the idea of not eating only one style all the time: it's like listening to only one style of music, a practice I could never understand. Based on the nostalgia factor, I ought to be a bigger advocate for Greek pan pizza, but I'm not. I will have to give Villa a spin sometime.


      2. re: scratchie
        Alcachofa Feb 17, 2010 09:42 AM

        Greek pizza is not MA-only. At the very least, it exists in New Jersey as well.

        1. re: Alcachofa
          Joanie Feb 17, 2010 10:13 AM

          And VT is big on greek pizza.

          I have to say, I was feeling like Scratchie at Picco a couple weeks ago. We were there on a busy Sat. afternoon and split one with mushrooms (they have a mix of portabello and crimini I think), caramelized onion and roasted peppers and the edge of the crust was this puffy burnt thing that took up half the pizza. Plus it was cheese-less, we said white pizza not no cheese. We did get some good free banana choc chip and capuccino ice cream cuz of that gaffe, and the warm spinach salad is good, but way too much burnt area for a small pizza. I'm less likely to go back there.

          1. re: Joanie
            Science Chick Feb 19, 2010 01:05 PM

            The Hartford area is FILLED with Greek style. Despite growing up in CT, I never knew any other type of pizza existed until moving to the New Haven area for a year when I was 16!

        2. re: scratchie
          BobB Feb 17, 2010 10:10 AM

          I'll back you on most of these, especially Redbones, Frank's, and Anna's. I too was raised on Greek pizza and still enjoy it from time to time though I do prefer the thin-crust North End style (and even more the true northern Italian style, small and thin with minimal toppings).

          I haven't been to No Name in decades so I can't comment on that.

          My problem with Fire & Ice is basically that it's not what I'd consider a restaurant at all, in the sense of a place where a chef with some degree of skill and vision prepares food for people to enjoy. It's just a depot of mediocre ingredients and equally mediocre sauces that may or may not go together, combined for your dining pleasure by a technician, not a cook. In my book that puts it one step above a salad bar - not awful, but not worthy of consideration when rating places to eat.

          1. re: BobB
            scratchie Feb 17, 2010 10:42 AM

            I think you're selling the chef at Fire & Ice a little short. The creation and production of the sauces requires some sort of chef. You may find them mediocre, but the sauces are certainly the creation of a chef. The selection and preparation of the ingredients requires some skill and knowledge, even if they're all going to be placed out salad-bar style (i.e. choosing fresh produce, cutting everything to the proper size so it all cooks in the same amount of time, etc). Making sure that the raw food remains edible requires food-preparation knowledge. And cooking it properly requires knowledge and skill.

            None of these require L'Espalier-level culinary skills, but none of them are trivial, either.

            Geez, all this dumping on F&I makes me want to go back just to see if it's half as enjoyable as I remembered it. I agree that the whole thing is pretty gimmicky, and I haven't (until now) felt the need to go back there in a long time, but at the same time, I never had a meal that was less than enjoyable there.

            1. re: scratchie
              StriperGuy Feb 17, 2010 01:08 PM

              Uhhhh no.

              The sauces at Fire and Ice are straight out of the bottle. You can buy any of those at any half decent Asian supermarket and probably even at Stop and Shop.

              There is almost no cooking or chefing here. Place ingredients on griddle, overcook or torture the poor veggies to death, throw slop on plate.

              As a big fan of various Asian cuisines I find F&I to be a singular abomination. Not even worth eating for free (a friend once won a free lunch for ten there).

              1. re: StriperGuy
                scratchie Feb 17, 2010 01:54 PM

                I seem to recall something (printed in their menu?) about how one particular sauce was the inspiration for starting the restaurant in the first place, but like I said, I haven't been there in a long time, It wouldn't surprise me if they're mass-producing their sauces now that they have so many branches.

          2. re: scratchie
            pasuga Feb 25, 2010 06:28 PM

            <<I haven't eaten at Fire & Ice in years, but I always had a good meal there. I'm not sure what there is to complain about with that place, unless it's gone way downhill. Obviously some people are not happy with the whole process, but if that's the case, you shouldn't go at all.>>

            I had the worst meal of my life at Fire and Ice a few years ago - I never got served at all. It was a holiday lunch for about 14 people from my work group. When they served us, my plate wasn't what I'd put in my bowl and I told them so, (they were not surprised.) I later heard from other friends who worked across the street with me this wasn't unusual. The waiter asked me to go up and get another bowl. I was wedged in the middle of the bench with several folks on either side, so I asked if they would mind bringing me a cheeseburger instead, the waiter said fine, and it never showed up. The waiter came back to check on us and I asked about the burger -it still didn't show up. We finally asked for the manager and suddenly there were three cheeseburgers on the table right at the point when we were ready for the check. You couldn't pay me to go back.

            1. re: pasuga
              MC Slim JB Feb 25, 2010 07:02 PM

              Probably didn't seem like it at the time, but they did you a favor.


              1. re: MC Slim JB
                pasuga Feb 25, 2010 07:35 PM

                Well, I went downstairs and got an Italian sub on terrific ciabotta bread from the little "Croissant" takeout place in the Park Square Building - that's something I'd recommend to anyone, anytime.

          3. MenuPorn Nov 8, 2009 03:11 PM

            My confessions...I hate Tremont 647 despite the raves, and I LOVE RW!

            Tremont 647
            647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

            Tremont Cafe
            418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

            8 Replies
            1. re: MenuPorn
              tigerswims Feb 15, 2010 02:30 PM

              I similarly was not impressed by Tremont 647.

              We really like Gourmet India (in the Burlington Mall food court - I know, a food court!). On the weekends, it has specials and lots of South Asians go there...we look at what they order, point to it, and have discovered some great chow that way.

              1. re: tigerswims
                ErstwhileEditor Feb 17, 2010 12:26 PM

                Mmmm. I agree re Gourmet India. At their best, the palak (saag) paneer and the channa masala (the reddish one, not the darker one) are excellent. Their naan can be great. I recently tried and fell in love with their achari chicken, although the second time I got it, it wasn't quite as wonderful. I just wish they would have lemon rice again....

                1. re: ErstwhileEditor
                  MC Slim JB Feb 17, 2010 01:10 PM

                  Until the opening of Blue Stove (upstairs at Nordstrom), Gourmet India was by far the best dining option in that mall. That is a grim little corner of Burlington otherwise for food.


                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    Eatin in Woostah Feb 20, 2010 03:41 PM

                    I actually think it's incredible that there are two really solidly good places to eat in the Burlington Mall. We go to the mall specifically to eat at Blue Stove. I'll admit we don't go just to eat at Gourmet India, but if we're in the food court it's always the top choice. (That and our new nasty guilty pleasure, Shot Cakes...)

                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps Feb 21, 2010 02:50 PM

                      There's someplace that serves food in Burlington Mall other than Chik-Fil-A? I'm not sure I ever would have learned that on my own!

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                        Eatin in Woostah Feb 24, 2010 04:49 PM

                        Now you have someplace to eat on Sundays!

                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                      observor Feb 25, 2010 08:09 AM

                      Isn't Capitol Grille somewhere by there?

                      1. re: observor
                        justbeingpolite Feb 25, 2010 09:24 AM

                        Nope. An exit north on 128 at Wayside Commons

              2. hiddenboston Apr 23, 2009 12:54 PM

                Siros at Marina Bay in Quincy seems to get mixed reviews on this board, but we did their $20(!) prix fixe three-course dinner last night and it was mostly very good. The Italian wedding soup could have had a bit more flavor and the chocolate cake could have as well, but everything else was quite tasty, including the clam chowder, pasta bolognese, sauteed chicken with penne and ziti, and bread pudding. Excellent service as well, which kind of flies in the face of the often surly/uncaring service I've gotten at other places in Marina Bay in the past.

                1. m
                  mwk Apr 15, 2009 07:55 AM

                  So I'll add three places to the mix that I enjoy, but I seem to constantly have to defend myself when I mention them.

                  Durgin Park is one. I really enjoy the atmosphere, and I think that their Prime Rib is excellent. A meal of their clam chowder, prime rib and indian pudding is a favorite comfort of mine.

                  The second is NoName. I realize NoName has many haters on this board, but I enjoy going there, usually before concerts at the Pavillion. I qualify my love by saying that I always get the same thing when I go; a cup of their excellent fish chowder, and the fried fisherman's platter. I find it to be fresh, crispy and delicious.

                  I also happen to like their homemade cole slaw and tartar sauce because they don't have that overly-sugary and generally weird flavor of the supermarket deli versions. My husband, who is allergic to seafood, gets the steak dinner, which for the money, is excellent and he's always quite happy with it.

                  Finally, another place that I have to whisper the name of...Frank's Steak House. I've always had good meals there, and I really like their Bourbon Street Sizzler steak. Sure, it's frayed around the edges, and everyone there seems to be on an AARP discount, but the food is good and reasonably-priced.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: mwk
                    MC Slim JB Apr 15, 2009 08:21 AM

                    Any thoughts on the quality of Durgin-Park since Ark Restaurants Corp bought it a couple of years ago?

                    I remember doing a prime rib, butternut squash, and Indian pudding lunch just before the takeover and thought the place's old virtues were still intact. My waiter was an old pro, a guy, not the caricature of the sit-down-and-shut-up waitress type they flogged for a while. (Plus I shared a table with an old Brahmin gentleman right out of Central Casting: perfect.)


                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                      mwk Apr 15, 2009 12:51 PM

                      The "fishwife" waitresses of old have been long gone from the place. I remember when I first went there, back in the mid 70's, before Quincy Market became "Faneuil Hall Marketplace", the waitress dumped the napkins in the center of the table, along with all the silverware, and told us to "help ourselves".

                      As for the food, last time I was there was last December. It still seemed to be the same as I had been used to. Granted, I can't vouch for many of the other menu items because I always get the Prime Rib. But at least in that department, it was still good. I never was overly-impressed with the vegetables or side dishes, though. But that was never the reason for going in my opinion.

                      1. re: mwk
                        bachslunch Apr 15, 2009 02:28 PM

                        I've been to Durgin Park a couple times since the ownership change and didn't notice a drop-off in quality.

                      2. re: MC Slim JB
                        Gabatta Apr 16, 2009 05:08 AM

                        The family who Ark Corp bought Durgin Park from was retained manage the restaurant on a long term contract. They are still on site on a daily basis managing the dining room and kitchen. This has a lot to do with the quality being pretty consistent since the acquisition.

                      3. re: mwk
                        hiddenboston Apr 15, 2009 08:52 AM

                        I like Frank's, though whenever I'm there, I always have this uncontrollable urge to say to the waiter, "Hey, there's a blue hair in my soup."

                        1. re: hiddenboston
                          Bob Dobalina Apr 15, 2009 09:19 AM

                          Big bowl of soup...

                        2. re: mwk
                          bachslunch Apr 15, 2009 02:36 PM

                          Thanks for posting, mwk -- I thought I was the only other person here who didn't utterly despise the No Name. It isn't at the level of Neptune Oyster or even Dolphin Seafood, but my experience has been that if you stick to fried seafood and fish chowder, it's perfectly fine.

                          As noted above, I'm in agreement with you about Durgin Park.

                          And for steak at blue collar prices, I've had my best experiences at Frank's (which I find better than Jimmy's Steer House or Hilltop, or heaven forbid, Ken's Steak House). Sure, Grill 23 and the Oak Room do steak better than any of them, but they're a different critter altogether. Kind of like comparing Prezza in the North End to Greg's in Watertown -- they're both Italian, but that's where the similarity pretty much ends.

                          1. re: bachslunch
                            MC Slim JB Apr 16, 2009 05:45 AM

                            I think I posted about a revision of my hating-No-Name policy a few years ago here. A friend from Chicago with fond memories of the place from 25 years prior dragged me there, and to my shock, I thought the fish chowder was really good: I had two bowls. It wasn't at all the nightmare it had been on a prior visit that had me saying "Never again."

                            I don't think I've been back since, but that pleasant surprise softened my hardened heart a little. Still, my larger experience is that once a place makes you say "Never again", you are rarely rewarded by return visits.


                        3. b
                          Blumie Apr 15, 2009 07:04 AM

                          Ok, so my stomach is churning from some of these suggestions, but let me propose my own: I love the original Regina's, but I still find the other, mall-based locations of Regina's to be better than most pizza in Boston. Is that controversial, or do others agree?

                          26 Replies
                          1. re: Blumie
                            hiddenboston Apr 15, 2009 07:10 AM

                            I totally agree, though I don't think all the Regina's branches are at the same level as each other. I actually find the one at South Station to be very good, though perhaps it's because most of the other places in there are wretched. And I've heard that the one in Medford is excellent, probably because of the oven they use.

                            1. re: Blumie
                              MC Slim JB Apr 15, 2009 07:54 AM

                              Speaking of stomach-churning, the Burlington Mall food court outlet of Regina's is heinous.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                Bob Dobalina Apr 15, 2009 07:56 AM

                                The Quincy Market branch pales in comparison to the original.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                  hotoynoodle Apr 16, 2009 05:18 AM

                                  "just because" i was at haymarket last week i thought i'd get a regina's slice. i live right near santarpio's, so never trek to the north end regina's.

                                  the slice utterly sucked. dry, almost no cheese, the sauce was sugary sweet, the mushrooms were like paper. yuk. it was nearly $4. a whole pie at santarpio's is $10.

                                  i'll admit to liking bertucci's too if you want a whole pie.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                    MC Slim JB Apr 16, 2009 05:37 AM

                                    I've always gotten a whole pie at the North End Regina and never had a bad one (I order mine well-done). I guess by definition slices are pre-made and reheated?


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                      galleygirl Apr 16, 2009 05:48 AM

                                      They make a finite number of pies for slices at lunch. When they're gone, they're gone. I've never had one that hung around long enough to be bad....

                                    2. re: hotoynoodle
                                      LindaWhit Apr 16, 2009 07:00 AM

                                      Wait - did you say $4.00 for a SLICE? That's highway robbery!

                                      And I like Bertucci's as well - not all of their pies, but several. And the bonus are those rolls. :-)

                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                        hotoynoodle Apr 16, 2009 10:01 AM

                                        the pie was fresh out of the oven. i saw the guy pull it, which is why i ordered it. and faneuil hall was insanely busy, so obviously they were too.

                                        yeah, the slice was $3.85 and since haymarket pizza is less than $2 a slice and about 1000x better, it was an experiment i won't need to repeat.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                          Bob Dobalina Apr 16, 2009 11:18 AM

                                          I am pretty much addicted to Haymarket's dough - I make a homemade pizza a couple times a month - Buck a dough cannot be beat.

                                          Hotoy - just to clarify, was the grodie $4 slice from the North End Regina's (original) or the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market Regina's?

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                            bachslunch Apr 16, 2009 03:37 PM

                                            Does the original North End (Thacher St.) Pizzeria Regina even do slices? In my experience, they don't (unless they started selling them recently) except during the St. Anthony's Festival -- and even then, they sell them only from an outside stand at the side of the restaurant.

                                            1. re: bachslunch
                                              alwayscooking Apr 16, 2009 03:44 PM

                                              They sell slices - cheese and another special of the day.

                                              1. re: alwayscooking
                                                finlero Apr 16, 2009 06:29 PM

                                                But if memory serves, slices are at lunchtime only.

                                            2. re: Bob Dobalina
                                              hotoynoodle Apr 19, 2009 05:12 AM

                                              i was food shopping at haymarket and instead of haymarket pizza, i gambled on regina's in faneuil hall. how could it suck so much right from the oven? blech.

                                    3. re: MC Slim JB
                                      Gabatta Apr 15, 2009 09:06 AM

                                      The one in the Pru is terrible as well. I only ate at the closed Regina/Polcari's location in Tech Square Cambridge once even though I worked right there if that tells you anything. Our last two visits to Station Landing were far sub par to the point we agreed that we would only go to the original from now on.

                                      I love the original Regina's, but we need more pizza choices around here! Has anyone tried Cristo's in Davis Sq? It was recently recommended, but I have not tried it yet.

                                      1. re: Gabatta
                                        alwayscooking Apr 15, 2009 10:30 AM

                                        The South End has Mangia (I haven't tried other locations) and Picco that are decent for pizza.

                                        1. re: Gabatta
                                          chickendhansak Apr 16, 2009 03:56 PM

                                          Cristo's is completely unremarkable pizza if you ask me, but everyone has their favourite basic place. Living near Dial-A-Pizza in Somerville, I think their pizza is great example of the style and they do fantastic cheap offers.

                                          1. re: chickendhansak
                                            MC Slim JB Apr 16, 2009 08:19 PM

                                            Wow: Dial-a-Pizza? "You ring, we bring?" I would not have expected them to not suck. Been driving by that one for at least 15 years.


                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                              jgg13 Apr 23, 2009 12:58 PM

                                              I used to really like them but that's been dropping over the last couple of years. My friends still love them though, so I always seem to end up eating it.

                                              In general I like their crust, although that's one of the things that's getting to be less so. I decided that even when I was a fan that the thing that held them back for me was simply not liking their sauce. Another thing that IMO is on the decline is the quality of their toppings.

                                              Still, for the area you can do a lot worse for the prices on their specials.

                                            2. re: chickendhansak
                                              enhF94 Apr 17, 2009 03:24 AM

                                              When I stopped by Dial-a-pizza a few years ago, I was pleased (and surprised) they made their own dough. Wasn't in love with the pizza, though.

                                              1. re: enhF94
                                                dtremit Apr 19, 2009 12:40 AM

                                                But...chicken rings! I just can't get past those...

                                                1. re: dtremit
                                                  hotoynoodle Apr 19, 2009 05:12 AM

                                                  chicken rings? pun on the shop name?

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                    jgg13 Apr 23, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                    Perhaps, but they're not the only people that serve them. They were a fixture in a sub shop at my college in the mid 90s.

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                                            Blumie Apr 16, 2009 08:24 AM

                                            Funny, my most recent mall-based Regina's experience was at the Burlington Mall, where I bought a whole pizza and thought it was pretty good!

                                            1. re: Blumie
                                              MC Slim JB Apr 16, 2009 08:48 AM

                                              I feel a little sheepish saying "The mall food-court pizza was terrible", because it invites a roundly-deserved "What did you expect, dumbass?", but it was really bad. And it gave me the worst heartburn, something that rarely hits me. Incidentally, it was a couple of slices, not a whole pie.


                                              1. re: Blumie
                                                finlero Apr 16, 2009 08:49 AM

                                                Ditto. I've ordered slices and whole pies from the Burlington Mall location and been pretty happy. North End is still way better, but as mall pizzas go, you could do way, way worse.

                                                1. re: Blumie
                                                  MC Slim JB Apr 16, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                  I only got slices, but they were really bad, and who can complain if mall food-court pizza is bad?


                                            2. p
                                              pemma Apr 14, 2009 10:53 AM

                                              On a warm summer day the Barking Crab is really not a bad place to go to have a couple of beers and a snack while taking in the skyline.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: pemma
                                                galleygirl Apr 14, 2009 10:58 AM

                                                I'm with ya; I've never had the dreadful experiences that others describe here...

                                              2. b
                                                bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:17 PM

                                                No secret from me, but I like Durgin Park a lot, which not everyone here does.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: bachslunch
                                                  nsenada Apr 14, 2009 10:00 AM

                                                  While it is sub-Greek style pizza crust, I sometimes must have a Needham House of Pizza Buffalo Chicken calzone with extra blue cheese sauce. And I used to frequently require the cheesy garlic bread from Dixie Kitchen when it existed - I have never been able to replicate it or find in anywhere else (I'm sure it involves gobs of cream cheese and butter).

                                                2. p
                                                  pemma Apr 13, 2009 10:28 AM

                                                  I really like Papa Gino's pizza.

                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: pemma
                                                    Lucymax Apr 13, 2009 12:05 PM

                                                    Do the Chowhounders hate Houston's? I love it. The fish specials can be really excellent, but the salads are my weakness. Looking at things the other way, a lot of the Boston CHers seem to love La Campania in Waltham. My husband and I tried to eat there several weeks ago and were, well, repelled by it. First, it smelled kind of funny, but we asked for a table. We had no reservation but it was about 6 p.m. and 90 percent empty. There was a LONG conference about where to seat us (which was really very annoying) and then they tried to put us at the worst table -- in an empty restaurant. Already our experience was spoiled, we left, and I would never go back.

                                                    1. re: Lucymax
                                                      justbeingpolite Apr 13, 2009 12:07 PM

                                                      so you never tried the food? As far as I can tell, that's how the "CHers" judge restaurants, primarily.

                                                      1. re: Lucymax
                                                        MC Slim JB Apr 13, 2009 01:50 PM

                                                        "Conventional wisdom" is a little tough to gauge sometimes. I don't think Houston's gets a ton of adverse reactions here. One, it's a chain, and thus properly discussed on the Chains board, not the Boston board. Two, at least in my book, it's too bland and forgettable, too much a chain restaurant, to inspire love or enmity either way. Many posters may be like me in that if a place inspires a big "Meh", I can't be bothered to react when someone asks about it. Only places I love or hate are post-worthy.

                                                        For some reason, P.F. Chang's comes up more often (maybe because there's two in Boston now). I think it's pretty awful, but I haven't really explored its menu deeply. I can also see how people would like it, especially the many folks I know who wouldn't dream of going to Chinatown a couple of blocks away.

                                                        I think a lot of people like Sibling Rivalry here, while I'm a relatively rare person who actively dislikes it. Bonfire is another place that rarely gets discussed here outside of its bar food. That's another one I think is pretty terrible, but I do get in and have a drink and a plate of tacos once in a while, and the dining room always looks empty, so I'm not surprised it hardly ever gets mentioned.


                                                      2. re: pemma
                                                        ScubaSteve Apr 13, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                        me too!

                                                        1. re: ScubaSteve
                                                          pollystyrene Apr 13, 2009 08:52 PM

                                                          Me three, but it's a chain. (Shhhhhhh.)

                                                          1. re: pollystyrene
                                                            The Chowhound Team Apr 14, 2009 05:16 AM

                                                            To clarify, we do allow discussions of chains that are primarily local chains on local boards. It seems that Papa Gino's restaurants are, for the most part, located around the Boston area, so it would pass muster under our request to discuss chow that's (mostly) unique to Boston.

                                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                              Eatin in Woostah Apr 14, 2009 08:29 PM

                                                              Although Papa Gino's is now a national chain, it started in Framingham. I always think of it as local and am surprised when I run across one in another part of the country. They did scale back a few years ago, though.

                                                              1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                nfo Apr 15, 2009 05:49 AM

                                                                Where was the original? I used to go to the one in Shopper's World (I think) when I was little, but have no idea when they started to expand - I'm a little curious.

                                                                1. re: nfo
                                                                  LindaWhit Apr 15, 2009 06:19 AM

                                                                  They started in East Boston:


                                                                  And their stores are *still* just located in New England.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                    Eatin in Woostah Apr 17, 2009 07:16 PM

                                                                    Interesting - I always thought they started in Framingham. Maybe the owners were from that area...hmmm... Not sure why I thought that. However, they may only be in New England at this point, but they had broadened down the East Coast at one point. I think they may have scaled back.

                                                              2. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                                ac106 Apr 15, 2009 01:01 PM

                                                                Right because God forbid, 1 post out of 153 mentions a chain...

                                                                1. re: ac106
                                                                  fredid Apr 15, 2009 02:28 PM

                                                                  Hey, hey!

                                                                  I realize that a given comment from the mods might seem silly - but their overall structure keeps the boards interesting and helpful! Just look at almost any other "free to comment site" (like my condo associations weblog!) to see how ridiculous things become in about two seconds!

                                                          2. re: pemma
                                                            Karl S Apr 19, 2009 12:50 PM

                                                            PG's has its share of defenders - including me - on this Board. Not as an exemplary pizza, but - if you get pepperoni or something simple - a fairly straightforward decent pie, better than a lot of non-chain places.

                                                            1. re: Karl S
                                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 19, 2009 03:16 PM

                                                              My thoughts exactly: never my first choice, but you could do much, much worse.

                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                mcel215 Apr 19, 2009 03:36 PM

                                                                Ditto here.

                                                          3. Matt H Apr 13, 2009 08:31 AM

                                                            I like the Summer burrito with Steak from the Boloco in the Financial District, other locations not so much though.

                                                            At Finale in Coolidge Corner we ordered a sampler and enjoyed a good portion of the deserts.

                                                            1. Jolyon Helterman Apr 12, 2009 06:48 PM

                                                              I've never had anything but really good food at Sibling Rivalry.

                                                              The Northern Style Dry Spare Ribs at PF Chang's knock my socks off, and the crazy-salty Kung Pao Shrimp is a guilty pleasure.

                                                              I've had great meals at Bonfire.

                                                              Houston's rocks.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Jolyon Helterman
                                                                bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:11 PM

                                                                Jolyon and I may be the only folks on this board to have a good meal at Sibling Rivalry -- I did fine the one time I went there.

                                                              2. sfumato Apr 11, 2009 02:04 PM

                                                                Demos in Watertown makes a greek salad chock-full of iceberg lettuce, thin slivers of raw onion, tomatoes (in any season), and feta. And I adore it. They could put that dressing on anything and it would be fabulous! I'll eat their iceberg lettuce any day.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: sfumato
                                                                  pollystyrene Apr 11, 2009 03:25 PM

                                                                  That's because feta makes everything betta.

                                                                  1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                    sfumato Apr 13, 2009 07:32 AM

                                                                    Too true! I like it when they add lots of feta. It's also the way they slice the onion. And something about that dressing. Mmmm. I order that and their lemon chicken soup (not really avgo, I think, because there's no egg in it) every time.

                                                                  2. re: sfumato
                                                                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 11, 2009 08:48 PM

                                                                    I usually cover that salad with black pepper, but I agree that it's a hidden gem. They've got good moussaka, too.

                                                                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                      teezeetoo Apr 12, 2009 02:40 PM

                                                                      more than one shoe has been thrown at me but i remain a staunch fan of golden temple's martinis (up there with the best i've had) and of their special ribs. also love their shanghai chicken and that they'll make me a plate of peapods and shitakes, not on the menu, whenever i ask. as to guiltier pleasure than that: ok, cobblestones at Paneras. sticky, icky, mmm

                                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                        sfumato Apr 13, 2009 07:32 AM

                                                                        Very good to know! Gotta try their moussaka.

                                                                    2. mabelm4050 Apr 11, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                                      I love The Sunset Grill in Allston, definitely not a CH favorite. Love their apps, and have had many a great chicken sandwich or burger there over the years. Not crazy about the curly fries, though.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: mabelm4050
                                                                        Snoop37 Apr 11, 2009 01:26 PM

                                                                        i still hold that they have the best nachos in town... the half size not the full, but only because the mountain of toppings somehow gets on every chip unlike the full plate. It's delicious

                                                                      2. Eatin in Woostah Apr 11, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                                        So I'll throw in something a little different - my last outing to Gitlo's was a disappointment. I'd been once before when they first opened and everything was fantastic. This time, about a month ago, while the atmosphere and service had improved, the food was just not as tasty. Sweet potato puffs and cream buns were still fantastic, but XO daikon cake was mushy and the we had some taro bun that was just too starchy and sort of flavorless. Oh well, can't win them all.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                          hotoynoodle Apr 11, 2009 09:02 AM

                                                                          i don't get all the love for grotto on here. i've been a few times. i hate the low ceiling. the food is very much just ok. the service is embarrassing it's so amateurish. the wine list pedestrian.

                                                                          don't get it.

                                                                        2. p
                                                                          phatchris Apr 11, 2009 07:03 AM

                                                                          I've had a decent meal or two at Joe Tecces,the antipasto and a pizza at the bar with a bottle of chilled straw Chianti sometimes really hits the spot. I also don't find the food at Boloco to be as disgusting as most others.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: phatchris
                                                                            bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:09 PM

                                                                            Boloco can be awful or pretty good, especially depending on whether the rice is OK or crunchy hard in their wraps.

                                                                          2. d
                                                                            dtremit Apr 11, 2009 12:12 AM

                                                                            I have to admit I really like the breaded chicken cutlet at Papa Razzi. I think that counts...

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dtremit
                                                                              Bob MacAdoo Apr 11, 2009 03:47 AM

                                                                              Papa Razzi is another one that's great for family. They do a decent Bucatini Amatriciana, Penne Pomodoro and chicken, ziti and pasta. Their homemade focaccia ain't bad either.

                                                                              1. re: dtremit
                                                                                hiddenboston Apr 11, 2009 08:05 AM

                                                                                I think that Papa Razzi actually gets a lot of good press on this site. I personally like the place a lot.

                                                                                1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                  galleygirl Apr 11, 2009 08:29 AM

                                                                                  Aww, that's only because I discovered it last week..LOL
                                                                                  But aside from the prices being a little high for entrees, the rest of the menu looked okay...Pizzas and salads with wine are the way to go....

                                                                                  1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                    LindaWhit Apr 14, 2009 09:57 AM

                                                                                    Their pizzas are usually very good, and some of their pastas are good as well. I usually inhabited the Burlington location, as it was right next to the building in which I worked when that location was built. (In that time frame, ANYTHING new was welcomed in the neighborhood - only Dandelion Green and Cafe Escadrille were there when I worked at the building on Cambridge St/Route 128).

                                                                                  2. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                    bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:09 PM

                                                                                    Agreed -- I've done fine the couple times I've been to Papa Razzi.

                                                                                2. Snoop37 Apr 10, 2009 10:21 PM

                                                                                  Top of the Hub. I know everyone says the food is not up to par and it's only good for the view but honestly, I've had some really good food here. I love their clam chowder and braised short ribs (although it seems like everyone has good ones these days). And here's another stunner, I've had the softest, most juicy, melt in your mouth beef tenderloin here in Boston. It was better than my steak at Grill 23- honest. But this must have been a pearl in a sea of empty oysters because the last couple occasions I went back and ordered the same dish, it didn't even come close to the first time. Oh consistency... how you torment me.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Snoop37
                                                                                    Prav Apr 10, 2009 11:20 PM

                                                                                    Top of the Hub clam chowder is one of my faves. :)

                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                    missfoodie Apr 10, 2009 05:25 PM

                                                                                    The Hilltop is my absolute favorite 'cheesy' restaurant! I've never had a bad meal there and I suspect I never will.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: missfoodie
                                                                                      Mr Bigglesworth Apr 10, 2009 06:05 PM

                                                                                      There are moments when I want really greasy, utterly horrific Chinese food.... and I end up at lucky wah. I'm ok with this.

                                                                                      1. re: Mr Bigglesworth
                                                                                        kristinayee Apr 11, 2009 05:51 AM

                                                                                        Same here. It's right across the street, easy and convenient.

                                                                                    2. alwayscooking Apr 10, 2009 04:53 PM

                                                                                      Rather than replying individually since I've eaten at most of the places listed here (and unfortunately sometimes more than once and and at more than one location), I'll just say that this thread is aptly named. And that I'll search and cling more closely to those wise CH words.

                                                                                      1. Science Chick Apr 10, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                                                        I'm sorry.....I love REALLY great pizza...really, I do (Stellas, Reginas...New Haven's many)!

                                                                                        But I have to admit that I also love just about any other pizza and will scarf it down with delight, including Greek style. B&F in Waltham, 4 Corners in Newton. A slice here, a slice there....I'm really not all that fussy about it. I even love certain frozen pizzas...memories of growing up in CT with my Mom serving up Tree Tavern Pizzas.

                                                                                        Wow...I better stop before I get hammered!

                                                                                        39 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                          yumyum Apr 10, 2009 02:06 PM

                                                                                          I find it best to get hammered and THEN have the frozen pizza. :-)

                                                                                          1. re: yumyum
                                                                                            Science Chick Apr 10, 2009 02:07 PM


                                                                                          2. re: Science Chick
                                                                                            hiddenboston Apr 10, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                                            I really like the Arlington House of Pizza (now THERE are 8 words that have never been said in that order in the history of the world).

                                                                                            1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                              capeanne Apr 10, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                                                              I wish it were possible to change your screen name for some posts...when I have had a really bad week ( er...or sometimes not ) and I am out shopping on a Saturday by myself with Husband the food nazi at home I have been known ( not by many I hope) to drop into Kowloon and to scarf a sweet and sour chicken plate and a Mai Tai or two...not that I EVER engaged in a little Keno...I wish to pay my final respects to fine members of this board as I will likely die of shame within the fortnight

                                                                                              1. re: capeanne
                                                                                                Eatin in Woostah Apr 10, 2009 02:46 PM

                                                                                                Oh capeanne, I undestand. We were looking back and forth between the giant cactus and Kowloon wondering which monstrosity to delve into first. Only reason we chose Hilltop was because I'm trying to cut back on carbs and figured it would be easier to order. But I'm sure Kowloon sweet and sour chicken is in our near future.

                                                                                                1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                                                  capeanne Apr 10, 2009 03:06 PM

                                                                                                  and once you are there give it up for a side of faux crab rangoon ...shhhh

                                                                                                  1. re: capeanne
                                                                                                    hotoynoodle Apr 10, 2009 03:33 PM

                                                                                                    lol. i will order crab rangoon and a glass of trimbach at island hopper. c'mon!! it's fried cheese with a crunchy coat. woo-hoo!

                                                                                                    i give.

                                                                                                    every now and again i will have a drink or a bottle at the bar at anthony's pier 4. midday it's never busy, the place is like, trapped in amber, you get that cheesy spread with ritz crackers, for god's sake, and the bartender is usually personable. was there yesterday and on a beautiful day, the view is magnificent. but why is there a small train car in the front?

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                      edgewater Apr 13, 2009 11:35 AM

                                                                                                      They use the train car for storage.

                                                                                                      1. re: edgewater
                                                                                                        digga Apr 13, 2009 05:59 PM

                                                                                                        Might it also be in homage to the old Boston waterfront, when it was a real, working port? The old train tracks are not far from Anthony's.

                                                                                                        I'll add some recent visits to this fun and growing post (mainly pubs due to March Madness):

                                                                                                        -Rudy's in Teele Sq. doesn't get much love here. Love the fish tacos and spinach quesadillas. It sounds weird, but we also had some crab quesadillas last year that were delicious (it was real, picked crab...previously frozen? who cares?).

                                                                                                        -Spirit, Porter Sq. Better than average pub food. B loves the PBT sandwich when it's on (pressed prosciutto, bacon, tomato). When it's bad, it's bad - really soggy.

                                                                                                        -Magoun's, Magoun Sq. This is our usual Friday night haunt. We were so (pleasantly) shocked to see it reviewed in the Globe a few weeks ago.

                                                                                                        -British Beer Company, Walpole. We stopped by this past Saturday on our way home from Providence. We were starving, the rain was coming down in sheets and this is what an iPhone search came up with. I know the food doesn't get much play here, but we were happy with a veggie burger (not just a frozen Gardenburger slapped on the griddle - it looked made in-house) with a tasty Thai broccoli slaw side, a veggie pasty with some better than the usual soggy sweet potato fries. Lots of other menu items we would try on our next visit. Great beer list, especially given its suburban strip mall location - we had Old Speckled Hen, Stone Ruination IPA. Oh, and the free homemade potato chips are ridiculously good with beer. We could easily sit at the bar all day and snack on these with a few Delirium Tremens (tap).

                                                                                                        1. re: digga
                                                                                                          jgg13 Apr 15, 2009 02:43 PM

                                                                                                          Spirit is a pretty good spot to sit and watch a game too

                                                                                                          1. re: digga
                                                                                                            ritcey Apr 17, 2009 07:45 PM

                                                                                                            I love Spirit & it's temptingly close. The staff is awesome & it's great for those of us with a Sox problem. They revamped the food in the last year and they can turn out some solid items, like the PBT (but you're right in that the execution can vary). Damn fine burger too (but Temple Bar has the best I've had in the area).

                                                                                                            1. re: digga
                                                                                                              enhF94 Feb 21, 2010 01:14 PM

                                                                                                              Spirit! Never thought I'd see that discussed on CH... not my bag at all, though I'm constantly amused that it's the regular hangout for all the chefs-to-be from CSCA up the road. They're pretty full when they walk in the door, though, so food's not what they're seeking.

                                                                                                              Re: Magoun's, I've heard tell that there's a guy there who's a pretty solid cook, but who's on-and-off for months at a time. I have no idea if that's true, but I've had likeable, well-seasoned grub there - the cubano in particular (which replaces the traditional mustard with chipotle mayo). The fries are generally cold and soggy. I do like that they serve (pre-fab) baked-to-order chox-chip cookies, which go awful well with beer.

                                                                                                              ETA: woops, commented on a long-dead thread. sorry, RSS-dwellers.

                                                                                                              1. re: enhF94
                                                                                                                digga Feb 21, 2010 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                Re: Re: Magoun's..enhF94 you might be referring to Sully, who was head cook at Magoun's sometime back. Last I heard, he high-tailed it to L'Espalier or Sel de la Terre (or somewhere fancy in Back Bay). We haven't been in since the NFL season ended after PJ Ryan's fancied up their food, but if Sully is back in the kitchen, we will be back pronto!

                                                                                                                1. re: digga
                                                                                                                  enhF94 Feb 21, 2010 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                  Digga, that sounds vaguely familiar. I haven't been in months, so sounds like you're more up-to-date than I... though my impression is that he has returned to Magoun's more than once (helping out friends, in need, maybe?) so all may not be lost.

                                                                                                            2. re: edgewater
                                                                                                              hotoynoodle Apr 14, 2009 08:19 AM

                                                                                                              lol. the train car looks like a toy and the place is a giant barn. what do they store in there?

                                                                                                      2. re: capeanne
                                                                                                        observor Apr 13, 2009 06:57 PM

                                                                                                        I ate at Kowloon for the first time today and thought the luncheon special of chicken fingers, lobster sauce, and lo mein was fine...obviously not amazing, but not as bad as I expected given the bashings people hand out.

                                                                                                        1. re: observor
                                                                                                          galleygirl Apr 13, 2009 07:26 PM

                                                                                                          I guess if you're looking for chicken fingers, lobster sauce and Lo Mein, it probably IS fine. A lot of people who post on this board are looking for authentic Chinese, rather than Chinese American, which is why YMMV...

                                                                                                          1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 13, 2009 07:54 PM

                                                                                                            On the other hand, you'd have to be an idiot to look at a place like Kowloon and think it even pretends to serve "authentic" Chinese.

                                                                                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                              galleygirl Apr 13, 2009 07:55 PM

                                                                                                              Yes, yes, but i understand that suburban Chinese has a place in many (not MINE!) hearts....

                                                                                                              1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                                                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 13, 2009 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                I'm just saying that the comparison is moot. It's like getting sniffy because McDonald's doesn't serve steak tartare.

                                                                                                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                  galleygirl Apr 13, 2009 08:03 PM

                                                                                                                  They don't?
                                                                                                                  I know, I know. I grew up around there,and I just never liked Chinese food til I trid the real deal. Go figure...Just trying to give this poster the benefit of the doubt!
                                                                                                                  I may rent a parking spot near Jo Jo Taipei, tho...

                                                                                                                2. re: galleygirl
                                                                                                                  Gabatta Apr 14, 2009 05:28 AM


                                                                                                                  1. re: Gabatta
                                                                                                                    galleygirl Apr 14, 2009 06:25 AM

                                                                                                                    Yeah, what many of us who grew up in the suburbs in the 60's thought was real Chinese food. It wasn't.

                                                                                                                3. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                  kristinayee Apr 14, 2009 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                  Actually, I think you have to know what to ask for...my office enlisted me to host an authentic chinese banquet for our holiday party last year. We needed a place that had enough space for all of us and Kowloon's private room fit the bill. I have had many an authentic chinese banquet and let me tell you, Kowloon knew their stuff. We had a multiple course banquet menu that rivaled the best I've had in Chinatown. Everything was fresh and just as we'd requested. We even hired traditional chinese lion dancers to perform.

                                                                                                                  As part of a family that has owned chinese restaurants for generations, I know that Kowloon's food, like many other restaurants of its kind, caters to the americanized chinese food crowd, because let's face it, that's what most people (admittedly not chowhounds) want. There is definitely a market for that. But honestly, the cooks/chefs in the kitchen usually are chinese workers who during their own lunch time and dinner time breaks make food that you won't see on the menus - these cooks have talent. They know their stuff and if you request something authentic, or cooked in a certain way and specifically seek that out, I think you'd be surprised.


                                                                                                                  1. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                    galleygirl Apr 14, 2009 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                    Maybe, but I doubt you'll get it on a Saturday night, and probably not at all if you don't speak Cantonese. Plenty of places to get the real thing, IMHO.

                                                                                                                    1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                                                      pemma Apr 14, 2009 07:04 AM

                                                                                                                      I've enjoyed authentic Chinese food very much, especially from the Chili Garden in Medford, but sometimes you just want a pu pu platter!

                                                                                                                      1. re: pemma
                                                                                                                        galleygirl Apr 14, 2009 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                        That's why they call it "flying in the face..." I have never in my life wanted a Pupu platter, but hey, I have my little secrets!

                                                                                                                    2. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                      galangatron Apr 14, 2009 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                      what dishes were included in the chinese banquet at kowloon?

                                                                                                                      1. re: galangatron
                                                                                                                        kristinayee Apr 14, 2009 07:49 AM

                                                                                                                        This is gonna make me hungry, but here's what I remember off the top of my head, among other items:

                                                                                                                        Tasting portion of Winter Melon Soup
                                                                                                                        Shark's fin soup
                                                                                                                        Assortment of cold plates including jellyfish, etc.
                                                                                                                        Chicken w/ salty dipping sauce
                                                                                                                        Steamed sea bass w/ ginger sauce - served whole w/ head and tail
                                                                                                                        Oyster and Scallops served in the shells w/ black bean sauce
                                                                                                                        Beef and dried bean curd w/ fat choy (black hairy looking)
                                                                                                                        Lobsters with ginger and scallion sauce
                                                                                                                        Steak and chinese brocolli
                                                                                                                        Chinese eggplant with black mushrooms and other veggies
                                                                                                                        Jiao-zi - chinese dumplings with dark vinegar and soy sauce
                                                                                                                        Noodles for long life
                                                                                                                        Sweet red bean soup for dessert
                                                                                                                        Sweet rice cakes for dessert

                                                                                                                        And by traditional chinese banquet, we didn't go for the traditional # of courses, just the food. We typed out a menu w/ all of the symbolic meanings of each dish.


                                                                                                            2. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                                              cpingenot Apr 10, 2009 02:42 PM

                                                                                                              Ditto Olympic HOP in Watertown.
                                                                                                              This_IS_ a really fun thread!
                                                                                                              My offering- Border cafe scratches the Tex Mex itch for this transplanted Texan.

                                                                                                              1. re: cpingenot
                                                                                                                ChickenBrocandZiti Apr 10, 2009 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                Must concur with the Border Cafe. I have a serious weakness for their Blackened Chicken Quesadilla. I am going to purge myself now, I also enjoy:
                                                                                                                Boneless Buffalo Tenders @ The 99
                                                                                                                The Sausage and Ricotta Pizza @ Bertucci's
                                                                                                                Redbones though not The Roadhouse.
                                                                                                                General Gao's and Crab Rangoon from Great Chow in Quincy
                                                                                                                And finally the spicy chicken sandwich @ Wendy's.
                                                                                                                I am now prepared to be banned.

                                                                                                                1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti
                                                                                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 10, 2009 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                  As a fellow transplanted Texan, you must be familiar with this feeling: sometimes I just want really mediocre Tex-Mex. And it VERY SPECIFICALLY needs to be mediocre! In that case, Border Cafe does the job quite nicely.

                                                                                                                  I just wish there was someplace in town for when I want *good* Tex-Mex!

                                                                                                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                    cpingenot Apr 10, 2009 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                    Friday night, margarita, warm chips, mariachi band roaming and trying to make eye contact, a blanket of melted cheese, what else matters.....
                                                                                                                    Since I'm still trying to finish my deadline at work, I may have to stop at Border on the way home....

                                                                                                                2. re: cpingenot
                                                                                                                  rlh Apr 10, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                  We LOVE the Border 20 years later - really. The margaritas are fine (as is the recently-discovered sangrita at $5 each!), the fresh fried chips/salsa are the best in town (faint praise, I know) and a number of menu items are reliably satisfying - cajun popcorn fried shrimp, fajitas, burger, eggplant royale, blackened chicken fingers - that's the short list. Their front of house recovery on a couple of disappointing occasions has been outstanding.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cpingenot
                                                                                                                    Essex County Apr 11, 2009 07:31 AM

                                                                                                                    Haven't thought about the Border for a long time. We used to take our kids when they were in Harvard Square. I took a bunch of folks, maybe 10, there one night. We ordered way too much and when the waiter cleared the table, he slipped and the stacked plates with half eaten burritos and pico de gallo and black beans, etc. all slid off the waiter's tray and onto...me. A Harvard undergrad at the next table immediately quipped, "I guess dinner's on you, sir!" The rest of the packed dining room burst into applause. It was that spectacular. They gave me a free t-shirt that I put on then and there. They also comped my dinner and paid my dry cleaning bill.

                                                                                                                    Now I need a couple of margaritas and an order of catfish mardigras.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Essex County
                                                                                                                      dfan Apr 11, 2009 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                      I was going to put Border Cafe on my Chowhound Guilty Pleasure list as well but you guys beat me to it.

                                                                                                                      However I must report with dismay that as of last weekend the Catfish Mardi Gras is no longer on the menu. A big disappointment to me as it was my go-to dish there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: dfan
                                                                                                                        bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                        I've sometimes done OK at Border Cafe, but limiting myself to things like the tostata grande and gumbo is usually in order. And I too liked the catfish mardi gras a good bit and was surprised to see it gone from the menu -- it's arguably their best entree.

                                                                                                                        1. re: bachslunch
                                                                                                                          Walthamfoodman Feb 18, 2010 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                          Border is not the worst I've had but I can't stand how they bring all of your food at once. If I'm eating an appetizer I don't want the fajitas to sit there getting cold. When I rarely go, I make sure to only order one thing at a time. The staff doesn't understand it, so it can be a struggle!

                                                                                                                3. re: Science Chick
                                                                                                                  Prav Apr 10, 2009 11:16 PM

                                                                                                                  Sometimes I love a slice of "garbage pizza" - i.e. Joseph's Pizzeria, on South Huntington / Huntington in Mission Hill/Jp. Only place open till 3am.

                                                                                                                4. b
                                                                                                                  bear Apr 10, 2009 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                  Fun topic. I like the Rhode Island calamari at Vinny T's.

                                                                                                                  1. a
                                                                                                                    Arnie Apr 10, 2009 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                    Although I depend heavily on Chowhound and have acquired a number of favorites from the advice given (Prezza, No 9 Park ,to name a couple), I still am a defender of Legal's. A half-dozen oysters, a cold draft, an entree of wood grilled scallops and any 1 of several good desserts make a reasonably priced and totally satisfying meal.

                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Arnie
                                                                                                                      twentyoystahs Apr 10, 2009 01:00 PM

                                                                                                                      Agreed, we actually had a surprisingly good lunch at Legal's in Chestnut Hill the other day. I had a garlicky shrimp and linguine dish and my DC had a salmon prepared mediterranean/greek style....really good.

                                                                                                                      1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                                                                                        Arnie Apr 10, 2009 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the validation...but get ready. The Legal haters should be getting ready to pounce any minute!

                                                                                                                        1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                                                                                          emilief Apr 10, 2009 01:47 PM

                                                                                                                          Agreed- the fresh briny oysters with a martini, the calamari Rhode Island Style (with hot peppers) and the sole in lemon caper butter and the wines are all excellent. I think the haters should try Legal in Chestnut Hill-never had a bad anything there.

                                                                                                                          1. re: emilief
                                                                                                                            cpingenot Apr 10, 2009 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                            Another vote for Legals. I end up at Legal's Kendall an awful lot of weekends as my DH works across the street, and the bar has become our go-to for light snacks/lunch. The RI calamari is always light and tasty.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cpingenot
                                                                                                                              steinpilz Feb 26, 2010 03:48 AM

                                                                                                                              Another for Legals, and I'll add Jasper's Summer Shack! I was critical of JSS at first but have come around and ldo ike it.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Arnie
                                                                                                                          maggie may Apr 19, 2009 10:03 PM

                                                                                                                          I love Legal, AS a "real" Bostonian I started going to legal when there was one restaurant in Inman Sqare, I ate my first sushi there prepared by their wonderful Japanese chef who has long since retired. I remember the sadness all over the city after the place burned down. They then and now served some of the freshest fish in the area and have brought a lot of new varieties to our attention.

                                                                                                                          1. re: maggie may
                                                                                                                            BobB Apr 23, 2009 12:47 PM

                                                                                                                            I like the place, and I go WAY back with it. I grew up a block from the original Inman Sq location in the days when it was just a fish market with a takeout fish & chips counter. I've watched its evolution ever since, and while I am not thrilled by the fact that it's become so corporatized, I still like the food as long as I stick to the basics.

                                                                                                                        3. f
                                                                                                                          fayth Apr 10, 2009 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                          I'll take a double hit- I had a great (1) RW lunch @ (2) Top of the Hub! It was one of the best RW experiences-food and service that I've had in Boston or NYC.

                                                                                                                          26 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: fayth
                                                                                                                            yumyum Apr 10, 2009 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                            I think we have a winner!

                                                                                                                            1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                              MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                              I don't know: Johnresa had a pretty powerful two-fer with Fire & Ice and The Cheesecake Factory. (I haven't been to Mount Vernon lately, but I like to imagine that it's not disgusting. Just minutes from downtown Boston...)


                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                yumyum Apr 10, 2009 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                You made me LOL.

                                                                                                                                Mount Vernon isn't awful -- sort of like the Paddock without the stale smoke smell.

                                                                                                                                I just think the RW + Top of the Hub combo platter is made of win.

                                                                                                                                1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                  kristinayee Apr 10, 2009 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                  Though, I must say ... the home made cookie dessert, made to order at the Top of the Hub is really yummy. What's better than hot cookies straight from the oven?

                                                                                                                                  And come on ... Cheesecake Factory's menu is SO big, everyone can find something that they enjoy there, can't they? It's not THAT bad. =)


                                                                                                                                  1. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                                    yumyum Apr 10, 2009 11:49 AM

                                                                                                                                    Problem is, most chowhounds don't just want to find something that they *can* enjoy. We want something truly delicious. I have yet to eat something at Chessecake Factory that is truly delicious. Fine, maybe. Decent, sure. But not truly delicious. I think that drive for deliciousness is what sets this board (and community) apart. I don't want to see it dumbed down.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                      pollystyrene Apr 10, 2009 10:12 PM

                                                                                                                                      One of the most useful things about CH to me is getting recs for what not to miss and what to avoid at many of the CH-sanctioned restaurants. Since the Cheesecake Factory menu has so many things on it, you really can't discount it unless you've been steered toward the good stuff, tried several different things, and not liked any of them. Even several things is only about 5% of the menu! I do find a few things on their menu downright delicious.

                                                                                                                                      MC: was your sandwich "blech" because it was too big or because it was "blech"? Are you horrified by the portions at Vinny's at Night, too? What's so bad about getting a free meal to take home? You must be easily horrified!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                                                                                        MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 10:41 PM

                                                                                                                                        It is true that I haven't much explored The Cheesecake Factory menu. I'm open to the idea that there are extraordinary dishes there, but I have to say that my small sample does not make me hopeful. Further, what I have tasted has a certain factory quality to it that underscores my understanding of how casual-dining chain restaurants work. They're about scale, uniformity, efficient volume production by modestly-skilled cooks, recombination of a small set of ingredients into many dishes. Having a few great dishes bobbing around in the sea of mediocrity doesn't seem to fit that model.

                                                                                                                                        I definitely have a horror of wretched-excess portions; I've been banging that drum for years. That sandwich wasn't disgusting (it was merely dull), but the portion size was gross, ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                        I loathe doggie bags, hate how leftover food looks the next day. I think it especially diminishes the experience of fine-dining restaurants: seeing a dish that was carefully prepared and plated the night before, cold and congealed in a plastic container the morning after. It's a disservice to the chefs. Give me higher quality in a portion size I can finish.

                                                                                                                                        With the benefit of experience, places like Vinny's are manageable: we know to share courses, not to order an antipasto, primo, and secondo each. But I was probably put off the first time I got served a giant plate of pasta there. Two things are different about Vinny's: one, the food tastes freshly and idiosyncratically prepared to me; it doesn't have that formulaic quality that the chains have. Two, I go there with the kind of people I like to share with. That would be a little odd at lunch with my coworkers (nice people, I just wouldn't share a spoon with most of them). So at The Factory, I have to order in a way that's essentially wasteful.

                                                                                                                                        But I'll note your favorites for the next time I'm there. It would hardly be the first time my prejudices were upended by something I learned on Chowhound. That in fact is a thing to be devoutly wished for!


                                                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                          pollystyrene Apr 10, 2009 11:38 PM

                                                                                                                                          Here's to an open mind (and wide-open stomach)! I wouldn't expect extraordinary, but you just might find something or two delicious. Just remember: dressing on the side, hold the whipped cream if you get cheesecake (I know, it should go without saying), and ice cream instead of whipped cream if you get Linda's fudge cake. (Regina's undercooks their pizza; Cheesecake Factory sprays whipped cream on everything. Every restaurant has its quirks.) A perk: cheesecake stays intact in the fridge for follow-up eating.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                        kristinayee Apr 11, 2009 05:55 AM

                                                                                                                                        Yes, this is true and I am with you on the truly delicious idea, but this is the "Flying in the Face of Chow Wisdom" post, so theoretically this whole post would unfortunately meet your "dumbing it down" theory. And I take it back, it's not just that I "can" find something to enjoy at Cheesecake, the things that I find, I genuinely like and think are delicious, such as the Tuna Tempura appetizer, for example.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                                          catsmeow Apr 11, 2009 06:51 AM

                                                                                                                                          The spicy ahi tempura roll appetizer is one of my favorite apps! Every so often, I stop in and get it for lunch. When ordering it, I always ask that the chef make sure the tuna is not cooked at all inside. That happeneded once and that was enough. Hmmm... I think I'm overdue for a visit. Unfortunatly, one of my fav cheessecake combos, cheesecake and carrot cake combined into a sinful pleasure, has over 1000 calories/slice. i don''t want to know how many calories the ahi roll has. How bad can it be? Tuna is good for you. ;-)

                                                                                                                                      3. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                                        MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                                        My "first time at The Cheesecake Factory" anecdote is that I went with my beloved, we both spent ten minutes frowning over the menu, then ordered, only to realize we had reluctantly settled on the exact same thing out of 200 menu items: the grilled chicken and avocado club sandwich. When they arrived, we were further horrified to discover that one sandwich, with its mountainous blanket of fries, would have been more than enough for both of us. Blech.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                          yumyum Apr 10, 2009 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                          I hope that's also your "last time at the Cheesecake Factory" anecdote.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                            MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 11:59 AM

                                                                                                                                            It was the last time when it was my idea, but I have done a couple of work-type lunches there, putting on my best game face. Nobody likes a snob, and my colleagues don't know about my alter ego. They just think it's weird that I will drive two towns away for good Sichuan food.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                              alwayscooking Apr 10, 2009 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                              It's really hard to hide sometimes. Are you driving to framingham? Care to name the Sichuan spot?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alwayscooking
                                                                                                                                                MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 12:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                Two places I've posted about fairly often here: Sichuan Garden II (Woburn) and Sichuan Gourmet II (Billerica).


                                                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                  alwayscooking Apr 10, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks! I drive to framingham from Boston to go to Sichuan Gourmet II - wonder if owned by the same people?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayscooking
                                                                                                                                                    MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                    The two Sichuan Gourmets have the same owners, and I believe pretty much the same menu. Fresh bamboo shoots with XO sauce, yippee!

                                                                                                                                                    The Sichuan Garden has the same owners as the Brookline Village outlet, but I think the Woburn one is better; plus it's kind of a cool setting, the historic, somewhat rundown Baldwin Mansion.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                      alwayscooking Apr 10, 2009 12:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I've been to the Brookline SG and was not impressed but will note the Woburn one for when I'm in the area - thanks tons! (Don't you love CH? - sometimes)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                9lives Apr 10, 2009 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                My "first time" Cheesecake Factory story..I was planning on taking a client to lunch in Miami. Good client and I wanted to take him(me) to Joe's Stone Crab. He told me he loved Cheesecake Fac and would love to go there. Of course, we did. I ordered a small salad which was fine and took myself to Joe's afterward..:)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                              barleywino Apr 11, 2009 03:09 AM

                                                                                                                                              the bistro shrimp pasta (not to be confused with the shrimp with angel hair pasta) at Cheesecake factory is not bad, for those crispy shrimp nuggets, and you can even ask to substitute fettucini for the linguine. Also the double cooked noodles at P.F.Changs (if you ask them to go easy on the gravy) is a very toothsome dish, and their ma po tofu can be very good (slightly crisp outside, soft inside, unlike the traditional all-soft version). it's not where you order, it's what you order...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                                mcel215 Apr 11, 2009 05:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                i love the green bean tempura at PF Changs.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcel215
                                                                                                                                                  The Chowhound Team Apr 11, 2009 05:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Folks, if you've got recommendations for hidden chow gold on franchised restaurant menus, please add your thoughts on the Chains board, where such discussions are on topic, and thousands of readers will benefit from your experience.

                                                                                                                                                  However, please help us keep this board focused on the chow that's unique to Boston. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                            3. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                                              Prav Apr 10, 2009 11:02 PM

                                                                                                                                              I agree - the cookie plate is amazing at Top of the Hub. The clam chowder is good too, especially in their fun tilty bowl.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Prav
                                                                                                                                                Alcachofa Apr 14, 2009 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                Whoa! I didn't have my glasses on and thought you said something else, not "fun tilty bowl".

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Alcachofa
                                                                                                                                                  Prav Apr 14, 2009 07:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Well, I guess, if you turn the bowl upside down... :)

                                                                                                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                            FoodOfTheWorld Nov 16, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                            This post made me laugh and laugh. LOL still laughing.... good thread to break up the day.

                                                                                                                                      4. j
                                                                                                                                        jgarnache Apr 10, 2009 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                        I know there have been some positive posts in the past, but I have never had a bad meal at Petit Robert in the South End and it usually gets killed.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: jgarnache
                                                                                                                                          kristinayee Apr 10, 2009 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                                          Oh my goodness - PR is one of me and my hubby's favorite go-to places. I've never had a bad meal and the prices are so satisfying. I really don't know why the place gets such bad reviews. But oh well, to each his own.


                                                                                                                                        2. yumyum Apr 10, 2009 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                          I am a Mexican food snob. And I like the chicken quesadilla from Qdoba.

                                                                                                                                          I feel better now.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                            bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:14 PM

                                                                                                                                            I'm not as heavily against Qdoba either, though I prefer Anna's.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bachslunch
                                                                                                                                              finlero Apr 13, 2009 05:25 PM

                                                                                                                                              I actually prefer Qdoba to Anna's. I think Qdoba's chicken is better-seasoned and has a better mouth feel. Ditto Chipotle, and I think Chipotle's pinto beans with bacon are much better than Anna's, plus they go toe-to-toe with places like Tacos Lupita. That said, I still really like Anna's chile verde; spicy, porky goodness through and through.

                                                                                                                                          2. Suze123 Apr 10, 2009 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                                            Not Your Average Joe's in the Station Landing Plaza at the Wellington Station Stop in Malden. I loved their focaccia bread dipped in olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Also their Ahi Tuna Wontons. I ate there the first week I moved to Boston from NYC and thought "oh my god what wonderful goodness chain restaurants have to offer...what have I been missing!"

                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Suze123
                                                                                                                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 10, 2009 04:57 PM

                                                                                                                                              I genuinely, unapologetically like Not Your Average Joe's when that's the sort of meal I'm in the mood for: their Cobb salad is a particular favorite.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                                                Bob MacAdoo Apr 11, 2009 03:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                Ditto Barmy. I always do well with the grilled tuna salad and one of their chicken sandwiches. It's great for kids as well.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                                                  LindaWhit Apr 14, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Agreed - that is the best of the lot when I meet up with a friend at the Methuen location (exactly halfway for both of us from my work/her home). Have always eaten at the bar; good service, good basic food....and once they opened a Kim Crawford chardonnay for me for a couple of glasses (even though it's not on their by the glass menu).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Suze123
                                                                                                                                                  pemma Apr 13, 2009 06:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Station Landing is in Medford.

                                                                                                                                                3. Johnresa Apr 10, 2009 10:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I like Fire and Ice, the Cheesecake factory, and Mount vernon......I am really ducking...lol

                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Johnresa
                                                                                                                                                    StriperGuy Apr 10, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I'll take the bait, just thinking about Fire and Ice gives me a rash ;-)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                                      Snoop37 Apr 10, 2009 10:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I hate fire and ice with a passion. Those people were geniuses when they decided that they were going to create a restaurant where people had to go up and try to get their own food cooked.... and then actually pay for it.

                                                                                                                                                      Do that at your own home.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                                        macca Apr 11, 2009 04:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                        I agree- I can say nothing good about fire n ice-My neice planned my brothers bday dinner there. Just felt dingy, and my other neice was a bit freaked out- she is one of those " don't like my food touching: so the thought of her food touching others food did not bode well. Have never been to cheesecake, and will admit, have had ok meals at the mt vernon ( use restaurant.com for a coupon)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Johnresa
                                                                                                                                                        BobB Apr 11, 2009 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Not to be ageist, but I've never met anyone over the age of 20 who liked Fire & Ice.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BobB
                                                                                                                                                          macca Apr 11, 2009 03:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I think you are right- my nephew goes to school in Boston, and loves getting GC to Fire & Ice. And my neice who hosted my brothers bd dinner is in her early 20's

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: macca
                                                                                                                                                            plumtomato Nov 18, 2009 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Mr Plumtomato liked it into his mid-late 20s, when I got a hold of him and introduced him to better places. He tried to take me there for lunch once but thankfully they hadn't opened for the day yet, and I looked in the window and said "nuh-uh" and steered him away.

                                                                                                                                                      3. k
                                                                                                                                                        kristinayee Apr 10, 2009 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Also, the Roadhouse in Brookline takes pretty big hits on this board as being really lousy BBQ. Maybe it is, but being from the North and never having been to the South for any "real" BBQ, I don't think it's all that bad - same w/ Red Bones which also takes big hits. I've never had a bad meal at the Road House and my hubby doubly loves it for the craft beer.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kristinayee
                                                                                                                                                          Pete Lyons Apr 13, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I agree about Redbones - I love everything about it.
                                                                                                                                                          I also like the food I've had at the Sunset Grille & Tap. As far as pub food goes it was as good as I've found.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Pete Lyons
                                                                                                                                                            bachslunch Apr 13, 2009 05:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Will third on Redbones. Have eaten there several times and never had a bad meal there. It helps if you drown their side of beans (often less than stellar) in sweet BBQ sauce. Otherwise, no gripes here.

                                                                                                                                                        2. MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Despite riding the anti-chain train like a worn-out old hobbyhorse, I have had several not-terrible meals at the Park Square outlet of Maggiano's Little Italy. <ducks>


                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                            kristinayee Apr 10, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you here. The Maggiano's salad is always a good hit and I really like their bolognese and meatballs for a good hearty meal. It's not a watery sauce at all. I've had really good bolognese and really bad bolognese. Theirs falls right in the middle - definitely satisfying.


                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                              pamalamb Apr 10, 2009 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Definitely. It's not the finest Italian food, but it's more consistent than a lot of places. I love going for the full 5-course meal with friends - a true evening of gluttony.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                                Blumie Apr 10, 2009 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Oh, Slim, I wish you had not disclosed that. I find their food horrendous!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Blumie
                                                                                                                                                                  MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Context is all here. We're not talking guilty pleasures. Most of my experience with Maggiano's has been with corporate holiday parties, family-style, in downstairs private dining rooms. By that standard (nobody in my industry has been spending real money on this kind of thing for years), it has been a pleasant surprise, especially for the cost, with excellent service. Even the rooms were nicer than I expected for a casual-dining chain outlet. Especially for someone who regularly tries to talk people out of chain dining (in my Phoenix "On the Cheap" column), finding it not-terrible definitely runs counter to my own expectations, as well as (I think it's safe to say) conventional Chow wisdom.


                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                                  Snoop37 Apr 10, 2009 10:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  i agree to this one. I actually have had nice lunches here. I'm a pretty big fan of their lemon cookies, but only when they've come right out of the over. Last time I was there, they were unfortunately cold and stale :(

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                                                    BostonZest Apr 11, 2009 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't been to the restaurant but we often do take-out via (Dining-In) from Maggiano's. I wrote about our favorite busy weekend comfort food order last year. We can make a number of meals from an order of roast chicken, a big salad, red potatoes and one of the pasta dishes.


                                                                                                                                                                  2. hiddenboston Apr 10, 2009 08:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I've had some good meals at Villa Rosa in Quincy (.....BRING IT ON).

                                                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                                                                                                      Northender Apr 10, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I will take the hit with you on this one.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                                                                                                        Pegmeister Apr 10, 2009 09:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm shocked, you had a good meal at Villa Rosa!!!! What could you have possibly ordered? Please share.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pegmeister
                                                                                                                                                                          Northender Apr 10, 2009 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          I have to admit that this was 15 years ago but I recall that they had a very nice Chicken Parm plate. Maybe it is the hazy memory of youth (relatively speaking) or the many glasses of cheap red wine that led me to this conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Northender
                                                                                                                                                                            Pegmeister Apr 10, 2009 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            It has been many years since I've gone to the Villa. I had my very first taste of pizza there, when I was 5 years old, and the take out came in a brown paper bag with little paper cups on top of the pizza so that the cheese wouldn't stick. It was actually quite good. The last time I was there was about 6 years ago. The service was horrendous and the pizza while edible, didn't make me feel like I would be running back. To their credit, they have been in business for over 50 years. Someone must like it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pegmeister
                                                                                                                                                                              plumtomato Nov 18, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              We went with some native-Quincy friends last year or the year before and the service was a little inattentive and my friend's wine glass hadn't been properly cleaned, but I thought the food was not the worst I've ever had. I had either eggplant or chicken parm, I can't remember which.

                                                                                                                                                                              I have decided though that for good Italian food I am going to shop the entrees at Alfredo's on Franklin Street and cook at home. Their stuffed shells were toooo delicious! And shockingly affordable, no where near what I was expecting.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Pegmeister
                                                                                                                                                                            hiddenboston Apr 10, 2009 10:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I have always liked their pizza, and occasionally like their pasta dishes, though the last couple of times they definitely weren't up to snuff.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                                                                                                            eLizard Apr 13, 2009 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            wow. shocked. villa grossa! ;o)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eLizard
                                                                                                                                                                              hiddenboston Apr 13, 2009 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Sometimes I disgust even myself!

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