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Aug 31, 2009 06:59 AM

The One Place You Want to Keep to Yourself - It's OK, We Won't Tell Anyone!

I was thinking about this after I went to the Pasta Market Cafe in Malden for the fourth time in 2 weeks! We all have places like this. A place we always fall back on and are never dissapointed. The truth is, like all of you, I have a couple of places that fit this description - but I'm willing to share this one.

Pasta Market Cafe is right in the middle of a neighborhood in Malden. The food is always outstanding. The problem is working your way through the menu. After you try something, you want to order it again and again. Let me just tell you about a few items. They have a gnocchi appetizer that is not even close to the gnocchi I grew up with. This gnocchi is stuffed with goat cheese and bell peppers, then deep fried before it is sauteed with garlic and tomatoes. Eggplant parmigiana seems like a routine choice. At this place they take the time to make it like your grandmother did. They go through the trouble of getting most of the water out of the eggplant before they cook it. the result is a dense, richly flavored eggplant. The most basic of meals, fettucine with meat sauce, has so much flavor and so much meat that it makes you want to take it to another table so you won't have to share it.

I forgot to mention prices, The gnocchi is $6.95, eggplant $10.95 and the fettucini bolognese $9.50. I'd say the price is less than half what I would pay in Boston. That's one of the secrets of ths place. All of their pasta is homemade and they supply many of the high end hotels and restaurants in Boston with their products. If they make something special that day, they make extra and put it on the special board. For instance, last week I had bell pepper pasta with veal and shrimp in a beautiful cheese sauce.

I shared - Let's see if someone else will share one of their secret places.

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    1. Oh, damn, why did you spill the beans about this spot? :-b

      I don't hold any secrets (and in fact write about them all), but Pasta Market would be pretty close to being a "secret" place for me. A few others that feel like secret places to me are Cronin's in Quincy, La Siesta in Winthrop, Don Ricardo's in the South End, Shanti in Savin Hill, Genki Ya in Brookline, and Simco's in Mattapan.

      1. I used to have places I didn't talk about, so I could always get a table when I wanted to go. The theory was that if you tell the secret, then crowds will show up, and then I will have to wait or won't be able to get in at all. I watched about five of these places go out of business.

        Now when I find a great little place that seems overlooked, I blab about it on Chowhound, Yelp, and in my professional writing gigs. I'm not trying to flout the OP's intention here, but I want good places to stay in business, even if the result inconveniences me, so I don't keep secrets anymore.

        1. I'll play!!

          I love Tupelo in Inman Square. We have been there 6 or 7 times since it opened, and I do not hear a ton of BUZZ about it yet, and surely every time we go, we find a seat. Prices are great, the 'low-country' themed menu has some really tasty items and interesting versions, and the white sangria is sooooooo good!!

          Some of the things I love best there are the turkey meatballs, the pork and beans, the half chicken and the crepes. Hubby loves the Jambalaya of the day and gets it every time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Small Plates

            I second Tupelo - one of my better "chowhound finds" (my wife doesn't read regularly and laughs at my obsession, except for those times when I turn up something really good). I thought the Daube of beef was one of the better platefulls of food I have had this year.

            1. re: tdaaa

              I love Tupelo as well, though I'm not sure it's a real find anymore. That place seems to be packed much of the time, including on weeknights.

          2. My home! Haha, well, it's true....I sometimes hate that I love my own cooking so much, it prevents me from exploring more. But that aside, I know what you mean exactly. All of the places I feel like this about though are well known, I just make it a point to go to them when I will have a guaranteed seat, good companionship, full attention from the staff, and great food. Sometimes the adjectives I've used move around a bit, haha.Timing is critical, but I guess I've got it down for a few places. I have posted about all of them before, so no secrets.

            Like most of us, if I find someplace really great, my first thought is to post about it here!