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New to Boston - the good and the bad so far

Hi all,

My family and I recently moved from Vancouver BC to Boston. We've been out and about dining, following Chowhound's advice, as usual. In my travels for work, this has always taken me to great places. So far, we've found some great stuff in Boston, but also had some bad surprises.

We've been to some really fantastic places:

Myers + Chang - Fantastic food, fun drinks, really great service. Our comfort food in Boston now.

Cragie on Main - Just remarkable - especially at the bar.

Drink + B-G Oysters - Totally top notch meals - service, drinks and food.

62 (Salem) - Amazing, fresh and creative Italian. Price to match, but really worth it.

A + J Kings (Salem) - Some of the best bread and (especially) pastries anywhere, suburbs or no

We found many of these places via Chowhound. But then there are places, also highly recommended on the boards, that are just surprisingly bad to us. A few examples:

Artu in Beacon Hill - we had an early dinner here that was awful. The 'crostini' appetizer was supermarket bread with chopped grocery store tomatos with almost no seasoning. Gnocchi with tomato sauce (a main) was equally bad - gummy and flavorless gnocchi with a sauce that tasted out of a jar. The bread brought during the meal was again that supermarket bread that disintegrates when it gets wet.

Antico Forno - the pizza here was OK, but really nothing special. The mozzarella was tough and stringy like pre-shredded store cheese, rather than soft fresh mozzarella. And it might be a style thing, but the crust was so fatty that it left your mouth feeling greasy. We're probably little pizza obsessive, but given the hype, this place just totally disappointed.

I always brag to my travel mates that Chowhound never lies, but my pleasant surprise ratio for Boston has been lower than other places. Is this just bad luck? Or is there a tendency particular to Boston for places to cruise on reputation?

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Antico Forno
93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

A J's Restaurant
1365 Main St, West Warwick, RI 02893

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  1. Hmmm. As for artu.... I only go for the Porchetta or roast Lamb sandwiches. Sorry your other choices were disappointing. Keep at it! You'll find a wealth of knowledge on this board. And welcome!

    3 Replies
    1. re: yumyum

      second and third the lamb sandwich at Artu - also very good rotisserie chicken for takeout.

      Sometimes we need to remember "downhil alerts" Antico Forno is (to me) not the same since they enlarged the place. Often, bigger is not better. I have taken it out of the N.E. rotation for a while.

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      Antico Forno
      93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

      1. re: Northender

        I would say, and I have (see link elsewhere on this thread), that Artu has suffered a similar decline since it, too, grew bigger.

      2. re: yumyum

        Finally got take out from Artu today. The lamb w/ marinated eggplant was good but not terrific for us.The eggplnt component was the best thing about it, and the lamb was rare, but so thin that it's easy to dry out, even though chef doused it w/ broth before heating. Sub roll was bland and lacking; would have been better warm. With garlic aioli and maybe sauteed mushrooms this would be much better.

        So glad another CH raved about an eggplant parm/chicken parm combo he regularly asks for. Now THIS was delicious. Eggplant shone right through and the tomato sauce was a true Roman one.and the chicken was moist. yuMMY.

      3. I always thought Antico Forno had anti-hype hereabouts: don't a lot of hounds hate that place? I like their lamb sandwich (lunch only), but that's about it.

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        Antico Forno
        93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

          Welcome to Boston! Maybe Jenny's post and mine will help.

          And, I only go to Antico Forno for the mussels. I think that there are hidden gem menu items in some places. I'm sure you had a few of those spots in your last home town.

          Penny
          http://www.bostonzest.com/

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          Antico Forno
          93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

        2. well that is disappointing to hear. I have a couple of thoughts:

          -- it would be good of you to list the bad experiences beyond the 2 you mentioned(after the 5 you liked)because you will be helping all of us. if you don't have time to explain much, just be really brief.

          -- because restaurants can change so much and so quickly, i almost always post a CH question like what should i order? or what do you think of bbbbb? before i go somewhere. Not always; sometimes there has been a really recent CH post that motivates me to try a place, but only after the restnt's menu has wowed me. Maybe you already do this or you don't want to bother, but i have good luck with this system.

          Welcome to Boston . We've gone to Vancouver for restaurants and gardens about 12 times in the last 15 yrs.and it is my fav place in the PNW. I know you must miss it terribly but i hope you come to enjoy boston more and more, and that your food experiences here will improve.

          1. It's curious that you picked up an overall positive impression of Artu from this board. I don't remember raves about the restaurant (either location) in the last year or so. People have praised particular dishes (the lamb and eggplant sandwich, the thin crust pizza, etc.) but have not praised the restaurant as a whole. In fact, there have been criticisms. I know, because I've made some myself (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/708938 ).

            I've found the Boston board to be generally reliable. There are some very kmowledgeable people here, with very good palates. You have to make sure you look for more recent reviews, and also crosscheck a poster's opinion against other things he/she has posted.

            6 Replies
            1. re: FoodDabbler

              In fairness to the board - I've looked a couple times for "MGH" because that's where I work. So I might have shot myself in the foot by looking in a constrained area that's not the best food neighborhood. I'll have to walk farther for lunch, I think.

              1. re: jcarroll42

                That area is definitely one of the weakest areas in all of Boston for decent food.

                With regard to Artu, I only get the lamb sandwich.

                Gosh, head to Allston, or Chinatown, or the South End, or the North End, or Dorchester, or East Boston, or Chelsea, or...

                1. re: jcarroll42

                  We're colleagues ... and yeah, the immediate area here isn't particularly rave-worthy in any regard. If you constrain your searches to things like 'MGH', you'll likely be finding people recommending things as being the best bet in the vicinity but that doesn't mean that they're worthy in comparison to the whole city.

                  A lot of people are looking for something close to MGH because they're coming to the hospital for a visit, staying at the liberty, or some other reason why they'd not be inclined to take venture all that far. For those people, the recs are worthwhile. For someone living here, not so much.

                  1. re: jcarroll42

                    On a really nice day, when you have some extra time, pack your lunch and then walk down to the Garden (or take the Charlestown shuttle bus and get off at North Station). Walk down the side street that is to the right of the Garden, towards the river - Google maps says it's called Beverly Street. Once you get past the Garden there is a walkway leading over the locks...there are some benches (or at least, there used to be) where you can sit & watch the boats go by. Just across the river is Paul Revere Park if you're in the mood for a little greenery.

                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                      Awesome, thanks - I commute by North Station so this is a nice tip. If there's not great lunch spots around, I can do a nice picnic at least!

                    2. re: jcarroll42

                      you have rcvd lots of good suggestions here so far, but also you may want, in the future, to enter search terms like "beacon hill", "government center", "charles street", "north end". it's hard learning all the new place names in a new city but when i'm doing a search here, i try to keep in mind the various names that an area can have; if a particular town name doesn't yield much, i might check 'metro west' or 'north shore' etc.

                  2. Hmmm, here is the latest and moderately lengthy thread on Antico Forno (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756988). The feedback is certainly mixed if you take a read through. Also, save a few select items I have missed the raves for Artu here.

                    Perhaps your experiences are due in part to only doing cursory research? Also, in time you will identify the posters with similar tastes to yours and that will help refine how you select restaurants based on board feedback.

                    Welcome back.