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Moving to Chestnut Hill

Hello all,

I grew up in Chestnut Hill (pre-Chowhound era), moved away nine years ago, and am now moving back (pretty much across the street from BC) after spending the last eight years in the New York area (West Village, Park Slope and the inner NJ suburbs at various times). My recollections of local food are pretty minimal: Oishii for sushi, Legals for seafood, and, well, Bertucci's. I'd love some tips on what's new, what's changed, what I never knew about in the first place, and generally some pointers on my new old food neighborhood.


- Pizza: I loves me some Bertucci's and am very happy to have that as a delivery option, but yeah, it's chain-restaurant pizza, which seems like a shame in Boston. Anything better nearby?

- French/Italian: I got nothin'. Anything low-key local places worth knowing about? Boston is close enough for special events, so I'm not looking for lights-out places, just something local and decent.

- Sushi: is Oishi still everything it used to be? Still an hour for a seat on a Tuesday evening? Are there less crazy alternatives if I don't want to wait that long?

- Other ethnic foods: Thai? Indian? Good (i.e. authentic, regional) Chinese? Good (non-greasy) bad (non-authentic, comes-in-a-carton) delivery Chinese? For Mexican, we stumbled on El Pelon yesterday and were very happy, so I think we're covered there unless there's anything else we should know about.

- Is there a farmer's market in the area? My recollection of Allendale Farm is more serviceable than extraordinary, but it'll do in a pinch.

- Bakery/patisserie: in all my time in New York, the only decent baguette I ever found was at the Fairway supermarket chain, and croissants were always a challenge. Anything worthwhile within an easy drive for a Sunday morning croissant?

- Bagels: OK, I'm not expecting Brooklyn, but anything better than the pillow-soft monstrosities that pass for bagels in most of the world these days?

Thanks for any suggestions, and apologies for the long, long list. Looking forward to being in the area again! Of course, I'll update with my own findings over time.


El Pelon
2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

280 School St Ste G100, Mansfield, MA 02048

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  1. bagels - rosenfeld's in newton center - among the best even by ny standards. breakfast - try town diner in the newton center train station. french upscale: lumiere or 51 lincoln. mid-priced and very good mediteranean, Kouzina. Aquitaine for decent bistro/french. La Rotisserie for quite good takeout of the barbecue/chicken variety. very good newton farmer's market (cold spring park I think). Don't know the chinese/ethnic scene in Newton so much, but I do like Lam's on Washington Street. Rosie's is a reasonably good bakery but I don't know whether they make croissants (they make a good rugelach).

    1649 Beacon St, Waban, MA 02468

    1. chris, welcome back! you sound like the best kind of receive-and-give-back CH. Your very specific info about yourself and what you seek- will have lots of Boston CHs eager to help.
      Thinking of recent threads:

      here's one link re bakeries:

      i think clearflour in brookline will please you for croissants, baguettes, etc. Also check out Japonaise.Bakery.

      El Pelon, as you have begun to discover has some exc. mexican (certain things, not all)- do a search.

      and alot of good schwarma and kabob near you


      since allston/brighton/ brookline village/ coolidge corner - are so close
      to you, do some searches with those names in the search box.

      El Pelon
      2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

      Clear Flour Bread Bakery
      178 Thorndike St, Brookline, MA 02446

      Japonaise Bakery
      1020 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

      Esperia Grill
      344 Washington Street, Boston, MA

      Garlic 'n Lemons
      133 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134

      1. Pizza: There's a Pino's vs. Presto thread (or five) on here, so search for it. Hint: Presto is better. ;)

        Oishi is still awesome, the trick is to get there early (pre 6PM), or take it "to go". If you sit at the bar to eat dinner, you'll quickly figure out that 2/3 of their business is take out. Since you're close, you shouldn't lose much flavor in that time, although you will lose out on interaction.

        Bagels: Agreed on Rosenfelds. I still like Kupel's, but I'm the only one on Chowhound.

        1. a few more:

          sushi: Daikanyama inside Bloomingdales
          cantonese: Bernard's in Chestnut hill mall
          shanghainese: Shanghai Gate in Allston
          taiwanese: Jo Jo taipei in Allston

          4 Replies
          1. re: barleywino

            add sakanaya for sushi/sashimi take-out only; very, very good.

            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

              second the sakanaya rec. unbelievably reasonable prices, from a proprietor who really knows his fish.

              $7.50 only for a crate of pristine uni, imagine that!

                1. re: Science Chick

                  Yes, at the corner of Brighton and Linden.

            2. As stated, Clear Flour in Brookline is a superb bakery, there's always a queue, but it moves pretty fast.

              For non-authentic, but delicious Chinese, I really like Bernard's in Chestnut Hill Mall -- scary name, scary location, and I was v. suspicious until I went myself (we live in south Chestnut Hill), but it's actually pretty good.

              Oishii is still great -- and if one dines earlier, as noted, it's usually OK to get a seat. Great lunch deals, if you're free mid-week.


              1 Reply
              1. re: trueblu

                Agree about Oishii - we get takeout from them weekly . It's excellent.

                I bet that Allandale is much better now than it was in the past - they've ramped up their produce offerings, and expanded their store. They sell excellent cheeses and I think that they're now selling Canto 6 pastries (IMO, the best bakery in Boston...)

              2. Welcome back! As far as pizza goes, I'll cast my vote for Pino's, but the two are on the same block, so it's pretty easy to do a taste test. Coolidge Corner has a far amount of variety these days -- Lineage is great for seafood (and if you're willing to travel a little farther into town, Eastern Standard Kitchen and Island Creek Oyster Bar are in Kenmore). Also in CC, Regal Beagle is good bistro fare and Rani is pretty good Indian. Would also suggest Ginga, a tiny sushi place on Beacon. Would also recommend Clear Flour. Happy eating and discovering!

                Eastern Standard
                528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                Regal Beagle
                308 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                Island Creek Oyster Bar
                500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                2 Replies
                1. re: tartandfit

                  Forgot to mention, there's a fantastic farmer's market in Brookline on Thursday afternoons. Great produce, meats, and fish.

                  1. re: tartandfit

                    Keep in mind that Boston-area farmer's markets have a limited season - most open around Memorial Day at the earliest, and run until just before Thanksgiving. The Brookline market opens in mid-June and runs through the end of October.

                    There are just beginning to be some off-season markets, most notably the Somerville winter farmer's market.

                    There are also two Newton farmer's markets - one on Tuesdays at Cold Spring Park, and one on Fridays at the American Legion post on California Street. I've never been to either, but they have some interesting vendors and other Hounds have had good things to say about them. Both start in early July and run through the end of October.

                2. For good bad Chinese takeout you might try Fortune Panda on Rt. 9. They do most things ok and some things very well (e.g. house special seafood soup). Also Noodle House in Newton Center. A little farther, Super 88 in Brighton.

                  For farmer' market, Cold Spring Park is as good as Brookline's market and easier to park. Allandale is ok, especially in late summer (e.g. $5 bags of ripe but not pretty tomatoes. And you are 20 minutes from Russo's, for good produce year-round.

                  2nd Rotisserie for roast chicken. Also their ribs are surprisingly good (altho not real 'que; still need to schlep to Blue Ribbon for that).

                  For italian, Tartufo in Newton Center gets mixed reviews but we've had good meals there. For red sauce italian Carlo's Cucina in Brighton is deservedly popular.

                  Tartufo Restaurant
                  22 Union St, Newton Center, MA 02459

                  Fortune Panda
                  387 Boylston St, Newton Center, MA 02459

                  1. Welcome back! A few additions to the already good suggestions:

                    Pizza: Sweet Tomatoes in either Newton Center or West Newton. I like Bill's in Newton Center also. We also make the trek to Stellas in Watertown occasionally.....hands down the best in this side of town.

                    Chinese/Asian: Best to head to Belmont (Shangri-La). For dim sum, some folks like Green Tea on Rt. 9 or Chung-Shin Yuan over on California Street. Amarin Thai in Newton Corner is excellent if you don't feel like heading into Brookline to Rod Dee or Dok Bua.

                    Farmer's Markets: There are two in Newton: Every Tues. in Cold Spring Park (starts 7/5) and every Friday on California Street (starts 6/17). Details can be found here:

                    Italian: Fiorellas on North Street (near Waltham line) is a solid brick oven/pasta red sauce joint. For a nicer meal, Vecchia Roma on Watertown Street is well regarded (although not super fancy IMO).

                    Green Tea Restaurant
                    2 Beacon St, Framingham, MA 01701

                    Vecchia Roma
                    310 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903

                    Sweet Tomatoes
                    421 E Falmouth Hwy, East Falmouth, MA 02536

                    187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Science Chick

                      Don't forget the 'incorporated.' Generally pretty good, especially on the familiar things. Presumably a good choice for BRUNCH, so as not to go to C'town. However, at a brunch, where we were the only round eyes in the joint....usually a good sign... I sensed something a bit off about the cold 5 spices beef. The taste and texture were decidedly not beef-like. When I queried my companion, who had lived in France, as to whether or not it was beef, she shook her head slowly, while showing some minor dysphagia (swallowing problems)... In response, I whinnied. She, minimally accustomed to horseflesh, agreed. That has become a standing joke between us, when something does not appear to be as described...a whinny. The site is pretty Asian-geared, but maybe something gets lost in the translation!

                      1. re: hemeon

                        I'm guessing this isn't in response to me......what restaurant are you referring to?

                        1. re: hemeon

                          Hi, somehow I thought that when I wrote Chen Shin Yuan, probably up top, it would be included. Whenever-ago, they always put an Inc. in their name. And, although I could not swear to it, being less-than-experienced, my companion recognized the horseflesh in that meal, in that dish. This is decidedly a cultural-taboo-type thing. In the USA for people "of a certain age," eating horse is equivalent to eating Ken-L-Ration (an old time horse-based dog food.) There are apocryphal, but possibly true tales of eating a monkey's brains, almost living, out of his cranial cup. This sorry anthropoid had been secured beneath a table, and the top of his skull removed, so the diners could delectate..... This fresh dish may be the product of urban legend, or it may be extreme dining, or it may be a centuries-old traditional thing, but IT KINDA MAKES ME WANT TO BECOME A VEGETARIAN/VEGAN, because if that isn't cruel, what is? Dog is acceptable in certain places in Asia, but here is seen as a pet. I have had many other meals at that venue on California Street, which have stuck to the protein as advertised. The food has uniformly been pretty good. No offense to you is meant. I thought it was funny, but on these boards, some folk are quick to anger, and life is too short to defend every thought. I think I'm lurking from here on in. Comments often draw knives. I apologize for whatever I never intended to imply.

                          1. re: hemeon

                            Hey hemeon, I wasn't in the least offended by your post at all!!! Just wasn't clear which restaurant, that's all. Anyway, it makes me glad that I *AM* a vegetarian!! ;)

                      2. Welcome back. Also near you on Route 9 for Italian is Il Morra (temporarily closed) and King Fung Garden (not as good as the original in C Town but not bad). in addition to Clear Flour, Canto Six is a little far but I think it's great (IMHO, better for croissants than Clear Flour) and not a bad drive on a Sunday. Pending where you are in CH, S&I Thai Dok Bua and Khao Sarn for Thai food.

                        King Fung Garden
                        74 Kneeland St, Boston, MA 02111

                        Khao Sarn
                        250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                        1. I have to say that the worst dining experience we ever had was at Bernards. They literally (yes, literally) started removing our plates from the table while we were still eating. They wanteded our table to add to a large party and didn't care if we were still eating.

                          The little secret about Chestnut Hill is that you are close to West Roxbury. Deno's Pizza does great pizza and subs, the Brookline Village location is closed.. Himalayan Bistro is good Indian, although the few Nepali dishes I tried were overly salty. Thai Spice makes big servings of tasty takeout food - just don't believe the 30 minutes they tell you - they are slow. Sticky Rice Cafe is new and we haven't come to any conclusions. Viva Mi Arepa, on the Dedham side of West Rox, makes a variety of Venezuelan food, try the arepas.

                          Back in Chestnut Hill, Mandarin Gourmet is okay Chinese. A lot of people hate it, but they are very fast for take out. Say hello to Doris at King Fung Garden II. The food is usually very good, dumplings, buns, noodles, and Scallion pancakes particularly so. They can be slow on large orders.

                          Mandarin Gourmet
                          1020 W Roxbury Pkwy, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

                          Viva Mi Arepa
                          5197 Washington St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                          King Fung Garden II
                          370 Boylston St, Brookline, MA 02445

                          Thai Spice
                          1745 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                          Sticky Rice
                          26 Hawkes St Apt B, Marblehead, MA 01945

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jira

                            I really miss the Brookline DeNo's. I wonder if the W. Roxbury location delivers to JP.

                          2. The first thing I would say, Chris, is that you need to set your expectations (and it sounds like perhaps you already have): this ain't NYC. Don't get me wrong: I'm not one of those New York chauvenists who thinks that everything is better in NYC. But a lot of stuff IS better in NYC and, most importantly, NYC has more of everything. So while in my mind that means that NYC has more mediocre and bad restaurants than Boston does -- and trust me, it does -- NYC has a lot more -- a whole lot more -- good and great restaurants. And I don't mean just on the high end -- your Per Ses and the like -- but at every level.

                            That said, Boston certainly has its gems; it's just gonna take a lot more effort on your part to find them. Some already have been mentioned in this thread. Here are two more that are convenient (or, at least, somewhat convenient) to Chestnut Hill and compare quite favorably to what's available in NYC:

                            Sichuan Gourmet, for Chinese (I like the Framingham location better, but the Brookline location probaby is more convenient for you and also is quite good). I've eaten many times at Grand Sichuan (the 9th Ave/24th St. location), and just last week ate at Wa Jeal, which replaced Wu Liang Ye on the Upper East Side; both are quite good, but I'd take Sichuan Gourmet over either of them.

                            Farm Grille, in Newton, for lamb and beef gyro sandwiches. I haven't spent any time exploring the Greek restaurants in Astoria, but it's hard to imagine improving upon the wonderful gyros available at the Farm Grille.

                            One other thing that I've yet to be able to top in NYC, although not terribly convenient to Chestnut Hill: Chacarero, a dowtown M-F lunch-only sandwich shop serving an amazing delcious Chilean sandwich of the same name.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Blumie

                              I second Farm Grille on Needham Street in Newton - great, fresh Greek food.

                              For decent non-authentic in a carton Chinese, I also second Fortune Panda on Rte. 9, right past the Atrium, actually in Chestnut Hill. There's also a small sushi place next door to it - anyone know anything about it?

                              Has anyone tried Le's for Vietnamese in the Atrium? I've seen it but never been.

                              You have plenty of good recommendations above, but as you can see a lot of them involve going to nearby Newton or Coolidge Corner, or Jamaica Plain. JP's Centre Street is about 15 minutes away and has a lot of great options - JP Seafood for sushi, Ban Chiang for Thai, etc.

                              Centre Street Cafe
                              669 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                              Fortune Panda
                              387 Boylston St, Newton Center, MA 02459

                              1. re: Bugsey34

                                Sushi Man Express? We went there a few times, but IIRC, stopped going because everything had too many flavors added, so you couldn't taste the fish.

                                Considering I knew the spot that it shares with Fortune Panda as a Shell Station for so many years, I had a hard time going there in the first place.

                                Fortune Panda
                                387 Boylston St, Newton Center, MA 02459

                                Sushi Man
                                387 Boylston St, Newton Center, MA 02459

                                1. re: Bugsey34

                                  I haven't been for a while, but I have always found Le's to be v. good.

                              2. Wow - thanks to everybody for the overwhelming response! We're not moving for a couple of weeks, but it looks like we're pretty well set up for exploring in our first few months. Please don't hesitate to keep replying - I just wanted to make sure that I got in a word of appreciation now.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cjd260

                                  Surprised nobody's mentioned John Dewar in Newton Centre for meats and other gourmet fare. They have some reasonable meat specials if you stop in. Another favorite Newton butcher shop is DePasquale's Sausage Factory in Nonantum. Great local place with fabulous sausages and a good Italian grocery selection and it's on the way to Russo's!

                                2. The favorite childhood place for which I'm so nostalgic is Tony's Villa. I imagine you went there too if you're from that area. Who knows if I'd like it as much as an adult, but we sure loved it as kids and teens.