48 Hour Trip Report
Just got back from a quick weekend trip to Boston to visit friends. Overall, city has a fun mix of different things to do and we had a great time biking around on our tandem bike rental.
Went here for lunch. We showed up at 11:15 am on Friday and had no issue walking right in. I'm usually wary of Guy Fieri's recommendations but Rino's Place also got some positive feedback here outside of the long wait. The price to value ratio was very impressive considering the quality of what we got for the price. We ordered the 1/2 caprese salad, 1/2 layered eggplant, gnocchi and lobster ravioli.
The caprese salad was really good with delicious buffalo mozzarella. The dish was slightly overseasoned perhaps due to the salinity of the prosciutto. I think sans prosciutto the dish would've been perfectly seasoned.
Layered eggplant was a classic red sauce Italian dish that was executed well and very satisfying. Probably our favorite or second favorite dish of the meal.
The gnocchi was light but ultimately forgettable. Sauce was ok and nothing made us want to use valuable stomach room to finish the dish.
Lobster ravioli was very good initially but the thick skins eventually caused us to slow down to a snail's pace. The dish was also slightly overseasoned (I love salt btw) so I ended up finishing the dish by cutting the corners off the ravioli. It's still a great dish for $18.
The servers were very nice and friendly and I didn't encounter any of the issues some have mentioned. I saw some regulars at a table across from me that I thought received preferential treatment when white cloth napkins were provided (paper napkins are what's on the table). The server offered us the same napkins a few minutes later commenting our white shirts need protection from any accidents. Overall, Rino's Place is really good to great for the price. I wonder how people would view it if the apps were in the $15-$20 range and entrees were in the $20-$30 range. I doubt I would make my way out there if that were the case. Rino's Place doesn't bill itself as a top flight dining option so they are doing a great job at the price point.
We first visited NO several years ago in the winter around mid day and walked right in. I expected a wait but wasn't prepared for the line already 15 people deep when we arrived 15 minutes prior to opening on Saturday. The number of foreign tourists lining up was astounding. Sitting at the oyster bar is my favorite place especially near the oyster shucker since you can just people watch while you're eating. We ordered 1/2 dozen oysters, wild salmon crudo, scallops and the lobster roll. Oysters were delicious and fresh and expertly shucked. The salmon crudo was very good on a cold day but I would've liked just a touch more acidity (perhaps I was looking for it since the server mentioned it would have fresh strawberries, a touch of lemon and sea salt.)
We were on a mission to determine if NO's lobster roll was still our favorite after trying some local ones in DC (Hank's oyster bar and Luke's lobster). After seeing it an biting into it still remained our favorite even including the good one at Island Creek Oyster Bar we tried the next day. Maybe we just prefer the buttered vs mayo version.
The scallops was a fantastic dish. They were perfectly seared and accompanied by braised pork, roasted brussel sprouts and a blue cheese cream sauce. The pork was a little dry in some parts but was easily forgiven due to how well everything came together since the brussel sprouts had some sweetness to balance the perfectly seasoned scallops and blue cheese. I'm hungry thinking about this dish as I type.
The line certainly is annoying but coming mid-day is an easy solution.
Island Creek Oyster Bar:
We ordered oysters, fried clams, souza squash soup topped with a spicy shrimp salad, clam chowder, lobster roll and lobster roe noodles.
The soups were both delicious and we'd order them again for sure. Fried clams were good not great since the breading did get a little soggy fairly quickly. Not sure if that's just a New England style of frying but we still ate all the clams.
The lobster roll did not stand up to NO's version. I felt like the celery and cabbage took away from it and the chunks didn't seem as big as NO's. We noticed many tables had chunks of bun leftover just like we did after all the filling was gone. The filling is not skimpy by any means but it's just not as full as the NO lobster roll. The amount of meat may be the same weight wise but it didn't feel that way maybe due to the thickness of the roll and how it was chopped.
Lobster roe noodles were very good but I don't know if there was amazing. Everything was prepared well but the lobster tail was very small (almost more like a large langoustine.) We still enjoyed ourselves regardless but I kind of wish we ordered different mains since the seared halibut looked great.
The ice cream here is really good. I'd certainly come here if I lived in the area but it may not be a destination per se for out of towners. If you have an artisan ice cream shop in town using good ingredients you might get a similar experience. With that said, we did just ride 7.5 miles from Castle Island to Toscanini's on a tandem bike so the first order of ice cream was delicious! If you're in the area visiting Cambridge, go to Toscanini's. If you have no plans in Cambridge, maybe not worth the effort to get there.
*Pet peeve alert - the shop is very small as it is and extremely popular. The store should have a policy where you can't grab a seat until you've purchased your ice cream. My wife and I wanted to share one of the seats at the tall table but two folks next to it said someone was sitting there. Neither of them had any food and were just sitting there. Their friend didn't show up for another 10 minutes at which point only two of the three went to get ice cream. They ordered quickly with no samples so my assumption was they had visited before. I was probably especially irritated since my bottom was sore from riding 7.5 miles to the shop.
Mike's Pastry vs Modern Pastry:
We liked the cannoli here better than Modern Pastry even though it was pre-filled. It wasn't soggy at all and what we liked was the shell was more delicate than Modern's where it was harder. Modern's was good as well but I'd get Mike's cannoli if I were to visit the area again.
We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Unfortunately the weather was extremely hot so we can see how great the city is in the Spring and Fall.
Yay! Another Mike's fan! Many on this board are militantly opposed to Mike's, and while I think most of their sweets are barely okay, I think their cannoli are the best pastry in Boston. Like the poster in the recent thread on Santarpio's vs Regina's, I did a side-by-side of the 3Ms cannoli-wise, and my pie hole chose Mike's. They were both fresher and more flavorful than the other two.
Just so you know - you probably came across Haymarket, a market which is known to have "rock bottom" prices for almost over the hill produce. You can find great deals, or end up with stuff that's too far gone. Unfortunately prices aren't like that anywhere else in the city - but for good reason!
Ok that makes sense. From my perspective, that produce wasn't as over the hill compared to some stuff we find at our local Asian markets (which are the best deals possible).
We did get some over the hill Rainier cherries from one vendor we ended up throwing out save for a few. On the other hand the other Rainier cherries we bought from the vendor across from them were nice and fresh.