Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen

Tavola Hell's Kitchen, NYC PizzeriaBack in the fall of 2013 I first visited Tavola, and I enjoyed myself so much that I wrote a restaurant review. I’ve since visited Tavola a handful of times but not recently so on my last visit to New York City I opted to grab dinner there.

Tavola markets itself as an authentic Neopolitan pizzeria and pasta restaurant that operates in a space that was previously an Italian grocery store on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. This restaurant is not fancy but it is cozy and cool and may be my favorite place to eat pizza in New York City. On this visit I started with a Caesar salad, which is large enough to share (but I ate all on my own).

Tavola’s large Caesar Salad is $9.75

The friendly bar staff brought the pizza right from their massive wood burning oven so I had to let it cool for a minute or two before I could eat it. I had ordered Tavola’s Margherita pizza. While I do enjoy a pizza with different toppings, my absolute favorite is a Margherita pizza. I love the combination of the cheese, sauce and dough.

NYC Pizzeria, Tavola Hell's Kitchen

Tavola’s Magherita Pizza might be the best I’ve ever had and it only costs $14.75

Despite my best intentions to get a photo before diving in, my obsession with their pizza got the better of me and it was only after I had a slice in one hand and a beer in the other that I realized I had yet to take a photo so that is why you see a missing slice, which in my mind makes it look like a Pac-Man pizza. Needless to say, Tavola still makes a killer pizza and the informal, neighborhood-like atmosphere and approachable prices for dinner make this place a personal favorite in Hell’s Kitchen.Tavola Hell's Kitchen

BosGuy Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.

Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen
488 9th Avenue  || (212) 273-1181
www.tavolahellskitchen.com

Restaurant review: South End Buttery

Back in 2005 the South End Buttery opened on the corner of Shawmut Ave and Union Park Street in the South End, replacing a tiny cafe that had previously operated in the space. In 2008 they expanded into an adjacent space to include a restaurant and bar with dinner service daily and brunch on weekends.

The Buttery currently has a great special running this month, offering 50% off their dinner menu Sunday through Wednesday, so Sergio and I decided to have dinner there last Sunday. We regularly visit the coffee shop and I enjoy their brunch but neither of us had ever been for dinner.  The menu serves classic American fare like burgers, mac and cheese and meatloaf, all reasonably priced with dishes ranging from $17-$22.

South End Buttery’s cauliflower is a tasty side that costs $6

We sat downstairs in the restaurant’s partially subterranean cozy little dining room and started by sharing one of their sides, the fried cauliflower with a lemon tahini sauce. The cauliflower was served warm and was lightly salted, which went great with my beer while we chatted and waited for our dinner to arrive.

For dinner Sergio ordered the Buttery’s Chicken Parmesan which looked appealing but I did not try. I opted to have the Buttery’s burger. I had been torn between the Fish and Chips and the burger and our helpful waiter encouraged me to go with the latter.

South End Buttery’s signature bacon cheeseburger and fries is $18

The Buttery clearly likes their burgers. They often have promotions and the three options, the bacon cheeseburger, turkey burger and chickpea falafel have their own section on the menu. I hate to admit it but my burger fell flat because it was overcooked. However, I’m inclined to give The Buttery another try because I know that others have said they enjoy their burger – maybe I’ll make another dash back before the end of the month, while the burger can be had for 50% off.

Despite the overcooked burger, the fries and cauliflower were great, Sergio really enjoyed his dinner and let’s face it, the South End Buttery is so damn charming. The restaurant is open 7-days a week for dinner and serves a delicious brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9AM – 3PM.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

South End Buttery (The Restaurant)
314 Shawmut Avenue  || (617) 482-1015
southendbuttery.com

Restaurant review: Orinoco South End

After reviewing a number of more expensive restaurants in the South End, I wanted to share a recent experience I had eating lunch at Orinoco.  This tiny Venezuelan restaurant with only 30 seats has been a neighborhood favorite ever since it first opened in 2006, and its success here has allowed it to open in two other locations in Brookline Village and Harvard Square. However, it is this cozy neighborhood restaurant that is open Tuesday through Sunday where Sergio and I joined our friend, Alden, for lunch last week.

Venezuelan restaurant, Boston dining, restaurant review

The Orinico lunch menu includes “Antojitos” (little cravings), Arepas which are traditional Venezuelan corn pocket sandwiches as well as Pepitos which are Venezuelan-style sandwiches served on french bread, Empanadas, salads and a few main plates. Nearly everything on the menu is between $5 -$10 making it one of the most affordable restaurants to grab lunch in the South End.

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The marinated ribs in Orinoco’s Pepito de Costillita melt in your mouth

Alden ordered for lunch the Pepito de Costillita. This is a big boneless baby-back ribs sandwich that is slow-cooked with a passion-fruit bbq sauce that is so good it will have you licking your lips after every bite. The sandwich is topped with pickled onions and vinegar coleslaw and fried plantain chips come on the side. I took a bite and can vouch that the ribs melt in your mouth.

south end restaurant, Venezuelan restaurant, Orinoco South End, restaurant review

Eating Orinoco’s Pepito de Carne is so damn good I struggle to find words to describe it

Sergio ordered the Pepito de Carne. This sandwich was also on the larger side and stacked high with toppings. The sandwich comprises sautéed flank steak, pickled onions and salsa rosa with fried plantain chips on the side. I thought this was also ridiculously flavorful, and I’d be hard pressed to say which choice was better. My only caveat should you order either sandwich would be to think about what you might wear, because they can be messy to eat and will definitely require extra napkins. I think of these as sandwiches you’d have with friends or your boyfriend / spouse – definitely a tough first date meal to enjoy.

south end restaurant, Venezuelan restaurant, Orinoco South End, restaurant review

I loved my Pepito Medianoche and would definitely order it again

I wish that my sandwich photographed as beautifully as Alden and Sergio’s, because I loved what I ordered (despite enjoying bites of my lunch mates sandwiches – strictly in the name of research for this review). However, I feel like my photograph of the Pepito Medianoche (Cuban-style) lacks the mouthwatering appeal that the other photos evoke. Although you cannot see it, this pressed sandwich which is served warm includes slow-cooked pork with pickled onions, ham, swiss cheese, salsa rosa and mustard and like the other sandwiches is also served with fried plantain chips on the side.

Orinoco disproves the adage, “you get what you pay for” because our sandwiches which ranged from $8.00 – $8.50 taste waaaaay better than a lot of meals I’ve had for twice that price. If you live in the South End and want to grab a bite at a great neighborhood restaurant I’d highly recommend checking out Orinoco – just be patient because this place fills to capacity quickly.

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.

Orinoco South End
477 Shawmut Avenue  || (617) 369-7075
orinocokitchen.com

Restaurant review: Frenchie Boston brunch

South End dining, restaurant reviewPeriodically Sergio and I get together with four other friends for brunch. We like to try new places (or at least places new to us) so last month we decided to try Frenchie Boston. Frenchie opened this past January and I previously reviewed dinner at this quaint location which you can read here.

As mentioned in my previous review, Frenchie oozes a cozy vibe from the moment you walk through their patio and down their steps to their partially subterranean dining room and finally into their sun room in the back where we enjoyed our brunch. Their brunch menu includes Hot and Cold sections as well as Croques Monsieurs with prices for plates ranging from $9 – $16.

Our waitress was friendly and managed our orders which were rife with special requests and  substitutions from nearly everyone. For brunch John ordered a croque madame, adding  a pain au chocolat for something sweet to go with the savory breakfast. He appeared to thoroughly enjoy his choice, and I believe he said he’d order it again if he were to come back for brunch.

restaurant review frenchie boston

Croque Madame with ham, bechamel and gruyere $13 and chocolate croissant

My friend Bruce opted for the duck confit hash served with roasted onions, a poached egg and hollandaise in a cute silver bowl. This looked delicious once the poached egg was cut and the yolk combined with the hollandaise and duck. I made a mental note to be sure to try this on my next visit.

There is something about the combination of duck confit and eggs that I am always drawn to and would typically order for breakfast.

Frenchie Boston restaurant review

Duck confit hash $16

I opted for Eggs Benedict served as a sandwich in a croissant with salmon and breakfast potatoes. The poached eggs make this too messy to eat without a fork and knife and I only needed the bottom part of the croissant for brunch (this is my idea of making a healthy choice – only eating half of a croissant soaked in egg yolk and hollandaise). While I enjoyed the breakfast it wasn’t that memorable and a version of this is on every restaurant menu in the neighborhood.

Fortunately, the company is what was memorable and the fact this restaurant is just blocks from my home ensures there will be future visits.

restaurant review Frenchie

Eggs Benedict served in a croissant with salmon and breakfast potatoes $15

With the nicer weather, Frenchie’s postage stamp-sized patio on Tremont Street will make this a great brunch spot to dine al fresco, if you can get there early enough to nab one of their tables. I wish this new restaurant luck and am happy to welcome them to the neighborhood. If you’ve not yet dined at Frenchie Boston, give it a try and let me know what you think.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

Frenchie Boston
560 Tremont Street  ||  (857) 233-5941
frenchieboston.com

Restaurant review of Mooo….

Columbus Hospitality Group, CHGMooo…. is located in one of Boston’s poshest boutique hotels, XV Beacon. It is also part of the Columbus Hospitality Group which includes restaurants like Mistral in the South End, Ostra in the Theater District / Bay Village  and Sorellina in the Back Bay.

Mooo replaced a very popular restaurant called The Federalist nearly ten years ago in the summer of 2007 and while I’ll admit I loved the bar at The Federalist, Mooo’s modern looking steakhouse is an excellent choice in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, but for today’s visit I was joining two friends for the restaurant’s Sunday jazz brunch.

restaurant review, beacon hill, mooo restaurant, columbus hospitality group, restaurant, boston dining

Mooo Blueberry Beignets
3 each served $8

The brunch menu at Mooo includes a little bit of everything ranging from pastry to staples like French toast, omelets and steak and eggs as well as sweet options like Belgian waffles and the beignets shown above.  At the suggestion of my friend Tracey, better known as the food and wine reviewer (and avid shoe hoarder) Life Food Wine, we started brunch with an order of their Blueberry Beignets, and I’m happy she made the suggestion because they were warm, sugary and so full of blueberries I still get giddy thinking about them.

Beacon Hill restaurant, boston dining, restaurant review, mooo restaurant

Smoked salmon & egg $18

Tracey ordered the smoked salmon and egg breakfast plate which came presented almost like a frittata. Although I didn’t try her brunch item, she said it was delicious. However, I feel like I ordered more wisely (if not a little less healthy) with the duck confit hash served with two eggs. The plate was served in an oversize metal bowl that made for an impressive presentation.  The eggs were cooked as requested over easy and when I cut the eggs the yolk combined with the duck hash making a rich breakfast dinner even more so. While I rarely get to Mooo, I enjoyed the hash enough that I would easily order this again on my next visit to the restaurant and would  suggest it to anyone who asked.

beacon hill restaurant, mooo restaurant, boston dining, restaurant review

Duck Confit Hash $18

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.

Mooo Boston
15 Beacon Street  ||  (617) 670-2515
mooorestaurant.com

 

Restaurant review: Bar Mezzana

south end dining, south end restaurant

Bar Mezzana opened at the Ink Block one year ago in June 2016 and despite the consistently stellar reviews I never felt compelled to try the restaurant until recently when I was adamant about trying someplace different.

Probably best known for their crudo and pastas, Bar Mezzana’s menu focuses on coastal Italian cuisine. Sergio and I started our meal sharing a taleggio, speck, hazelnut crostini (btw there is an entire crostini section and I’m sure I will eventually try one of each). Although it doesn’t indicate it on the menu, the crostini had a sprinkling of rosemary and was drizzled with honey adding something sweet to the flavors and textures. It was so good we devoured it with a speed bordering on embarrassing.

south end restaurant, south end dining, restaurant review

Bar Mezzana Crostini: Taleggio, Speck and Hazelnut $12

Bar Mezzana’s dinner menu offers pastas and secondi plates for dinner portion meals that range from $19-$22 for pastas and $29-$39 for secondi plates with the exception of the family-style dinner which is $52 / person.

Sergio’s dinner choice, the paccheri, is a handmade pasta dish with chunks of lobster. The photo below gives you an idea of how silky smooth the sauce is but what you can’t see with your eyes is how nicely the lobster flavors the sauce.

south end restaurant, south end dining, restaurant review

Bar Mezzana Pasta: Paccheri $22

For my dinner I opted for an item that I’ve had at many restaurants here in Boston and elsewhere – the brick chicken.  A good restaurant should be able to provide creative dining options like Sergio’s dinner as well as elevating standard plates like my dinner selection, and that is exactly what Bar Mezzana does with their chicken under a brick – served with shredded brussel sprouts, almond slivers and pecorino cheese. The chicken was cooked to perfection and Sergio may have been slightly obsessed by the flavors from my plate, which exceeded my expectations.

south end dining, restaurant review

Bar Mezzana Chicken Under a Brick $27

While it may have taken me nearly a year to try the Bar Mezzana, it won’t take me nearly that long to visit again. I’m hooked and if you give the restaurant a try I’m fairly certain you will be as well. Bar Mezzana is an excellent addition to the South End’s dining scene. It is open for dinner seven days a week and offers brunch every Sunday from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

BosGuy Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.

Bar Mezzana
360 Harrison Avenue  ||  (617) 530-1770
www.barmezzana.com

Restaurant review: Boston Chops

Photo from Boston Chops facebook page

Boston Chops is described by owners, Brian Piccini and Chef Chris Coombs, as an urban steak bistro with a casual but refined twist on the traditional steak house. It has been a hot spot in the neighborhood and destination restaurant since it first opened four years ago in the Penny Savings Building in Boston’s South End. It is beautifully decorated (not at all stuffy like many steak houses) with a beautiful 20+ seat bar that runs the length of the restaurant and a small street side patio with doors that open to the street from the dining room.

restaurant review, boston dining, south end restaurant

Boston Chop’s Crab Cake shown above is $19

The Boston Chops menu obviously has many cuts of steak but the restaurant’s raw bar is excellent and there are many alternatives if you want something different. For example, Sergio opted to start with an order of Crab Cake. This is one of Sergio’s “go-to” orders and is large enough that it can double as a filling snack if you want something to eat but aren’t in the mood for a full meal.

Following in Sergio’s footsteps I ordered one of Boston Chops’ sides, the Eggplant Rollatini, as a first dish. The eggplant is sliced incredibly thin and stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and herbs. It is a great dish to share and I think often overlooked by many who come to the restaurant.

Boston restaurant review, south end dining, boston steak house

Boston Chops Eggplant Rollatini above is $12

For dinner Sergio continued with an unorthodox choice for a steakhouse, ordering the Pappardelle Bolognaise. Sergio loves a good bolognaise sauce and he tends to either order the Filet Mignon or this plate when we have dinner at Boston Chops. The pasta is fresh and comes with the hearty sauce made with beef, veal and pancetta in a creamy tomato sauce and fresh herbs.

Boston steak house, restaurant review, south end restaurant

Boston Chops Pappardelle Bolognaise is $22

Unlike Sergio, I always order from the Steak Frites menu which dominates the center of the restaurants dinner menu. All orders from this section come with an arugula salad served on the side and quite possibly Boston’s best french fries, that are regularly refreshed by staff from a warm copper bowl, ensuring you will over-indulge on the salty treats. Below is a photo of my skirt steak cooked exactly as I asked. I snapped this photograph before the french fries were added to make it look like a healthier option than it was in reality.

boston steak house, restaurant review, south end restaurant

Boston Chops Skirt Steak with peppercorn sauce and arugula salad $25

Although I’m not much of a dessert person, our waitress, Melanie, who provided flawless service throughout the dinner suggested we try their warm chocolate cake.  Melanie’s subtle suggestion was all the push we needed apparently, because we ordered the cake with barely any discussion. The cake was served warm and was devoured within minutes of its arrival at the table.

boston steak house, restaurant review, south end dining

Boston Chops warm chocolate cake $12 was devoured within minutes of its arrival

Boston Chops has announced plans to open a second location in Boston’s DTX / Theater District in the space previously occupied by Mantra so look for more updates on their newest location but until then my recommendation would be to visit the Boston Chops South End. The staff and kitchen consistently provide an excellent dining experience that many restaurants claim but few actually offer. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended, but dining at the bar is available on a first come, first serve basis.

BosGuy Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.boston chops review

Boston Chops (South End)
1375 Washington Street  ||  (617) 227-5011
bostonchops.com