Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Carbone in Hell’s Kitchen

Carbone Ristorante Hells Kitchen MenuCarbone is a tiny unpretentious Italian restaurant located on a relatively quiet (is anyplace quiet in NYC) street in Hell’s Kitchen.  This restaurant should not be confused with the swanky restaurant by the same name in Greenwich Village.

Carbone came to my attention while I was searching for places nearby and the 3.7 rating on Zomato seemed to make this a solid choice.  Upon entering I was greeted by the owner who only goes by Alessandro and a friendly host who ushered me out to their tiny private back patio. Unfortunately dodgy weather brought me back inside to avoid rain, but the cozy vibe of the place made for a great first impression.  This space is probably only 12′ at its widest point and the exposed brick wall gives the impression of a back alley (think Lady and the Tramp).

Roallatine Di Melenzane $13

Roallatine Di Melenzane $13

I ordered a glass of the Montepulicano, which was suggested by the waiter and proved to be much to my liking, followed by the Rollatine Di Melenzane.  The eggplant rolls came with the mozzarella cheese still melting on to the plate. This proved to be my favorite part of the meal. The thinly sliced eggplant were overstuffed with ricotta cheese and the tomato sauce was sweet and delicious. I used the  bread to get most of the excess sauce and ricotta that oozed out when I cut the pieces to eat.

Pizza Italiano $16

Pizza Italiano $16

With approximately one quarter of Carbone’s dinner menu dedicated to pizza, I opted to skip the main dishes and pastas and order the Pizza Italiano which is topped with cheese, arugula, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto.  When served the cheese and prosciutto smelled wonderful but ultimately it disappointed because I thought the crust lacked flavor.  Based on the rollatine and the many positive reviews of this restaurant I wonder if I made a mistake and should have ordered a pasta. One thing I do know is that Tavola, which is located around the corner is the better choice for pizza.  However, the cozy vibe and very reasonable price point makes this a place worth considering; just be sure to stick to the pastas.

Carbone’s is located at 331 W. 38th Street between 8th & 9th Ave.

Troquet Boston is a wine lovers restaurant

Troquet BostonTroquet is a cozy two-story restaurant overlooking the Boston Common in the Theater District.  The restaurant, which first opened in 2001, prides itself on their wine list and the modern French food that accompanies it (and in precisely that order). The menu is set up with wine suggestions from a numbered list by the bottle and glass that you can order for every entree.

Troquet is worth visiting if you’ve never been or if it has been a while since your last visit.  My preference is to go earlier in the week before the mad rush of the theater crowds hit in full force, which means on a Tuesday or Wednesday since the restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Troquet’s marinated beet salad with herbs, hazelnuts, and creamy Bucheron goat cheese for $14 was how I started my dinner but a camera failure on my part prevents me from sharing the starter which was flavorful, textured and refreshing. My dining companion skipped a starter and ordered the Black Sea Bass which comes presented in a large plate / bowl with saffron gnocchi, fava beans and New England shellfish bouillabaisse.

Troquet Boston

Black Sea Bass at Troquet Boston $38

For my main dish I ordered the Roasted Chicken, which came served on a bed of ditali pasta, cippolini onions, chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus and a Madiera jus that was so deliciously flavorful that no trace of the food was left when our server came to take away our plates.

Troquet Boston Chicken

Roasted Chicken at Troquet Boston $29

Troquet can be tricky to get a table on the weekends so reservations are strongly recommended.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5-10:30 p.m.

Restaurant review: B&G Oysters

B and G Oysters restaurantIn 2003 Barbara Lynch opened B&G Oysters in what previously had been a casual creperie, which I loved called Le Gamin – referred to by residents as Le Gay Man. While I loved Le Gay Man, it is hard to begrudge Barbara Lynch for opening B&G Oysters.  Its impressive that a dozen years later B&G Oysters remains the best option for seafood in this neighborhood.  Simply put, nobody comes even close and on a recent visit I was reminded all over again how much I like this tiny restaurant with the chic back patio. Upon entering I was greeted by the friendly host, Randy, who talked up the menu when I asked for his favorite selections and then I was well taken care of at the bar by my attentive server, Mark.

B&G Oysters, Barbara LynchB&G Oysters entrees (which are exclusively seafood) range in price from $26 to whatever the market bears for one of the best (and most expensive) lobster rolls in Boston.  Before I start a meal here I always order fresh oysters so on this visit I asked for a half dozen bivalves from both the East and West Coast. I don’t pretend to be an aficionado on oysters so I explained what I wanted and Mark accommodated me perfectly with his selection.  By the time I was done, my beer was half gone and I felt like I could taste the ocean on my lips – what a perfect start for dinner in Boston on a warm summer night.

Barbara Lynch, HalibutI followed the oysters with the East Coast Halibut that is baked in parchment with a saffron broth that includes fennel, cherry tomatoes and green olives with plenty of fresh herbs. The plate was served steaming – I had just watched the chef snip open the parchment after pulling it from the oven – and the presentation was only matched by the aroma. The halibut was cooked to perfection, nicely bathed in the buttery, saffron broth, that I repeatedly dipped with my French bread. If you love Mediterranean cuisine like me, this is heaven on a plate.

B&G Oysters – 550 Tremont Street – South End Boston

In a city obsessed with seafood, Barbara Lynch’s B&G Oysters remains the uncontested best seafood restaurant (and one of only a handful) in the South End. 

Restaurant review: il Casale in Belmont

il Casale BelmontEarlier this month we went to Belmont to visit a friend and have dinner at il Casale in downtown Belmont, MA – a suburb just outside of Boston. The restaurant is part of a small restaurant group that also runs a restaurant by the same name in Lexington as well as Dante’s in Cambridge, MA.

Despite the high ceilings and large dining room, the restaurant exudes a cozy rustic vibe that is in line with the service which isn’t quite fine dining but professional and friendly; clearly this is a neighborhood favorite.  Main plates and pastas are reasonably priced – ranging in the mid $20s and pastas are all available as half portions. Upon taking our seats at a high table near the bar we were greeted by a knowledgeable waiter who took our drink order and brought us warm, homemade bread.  To compliment the bread which smelled heavenly, I ordered the burrata cheese which was heavily seasoned with pepper, oregano and candied pistachios.

il Casale Belmont

Burrata Cheese $12

The cheese was cool and creamy as one would expect and the pepper and oregano added a nice flavor, but my favorite was the crunch of the candied pistachios which alongside the drizzle of olive oil went very nicely with our warm bread. Needless to say nothing was left when our server cleared the plates.

Following my starter I had high expectations and looked forward to the special of the night which I ordered.  The homemade Mafalade came with a seasoned roasted pork shoulder ragu in olive oil sauce with peas and carrots.  The colors and aroma of this plate created were equaled by their flavor, I’m happy to say.

homemade malfade pasta

Malfade pasta with pork ragu $28

My fellow diners ordered the gnocchi and grilled cod and they echoed my sentiments about their meals.  The pastas were certainly generous portions, and I ended up bringing about a third of my meal home for left overs, which makes me think unless you are really hungry an appetizer and half portion of il Casale’s pasta is more than enough – making it an even more affordable dining option.

With warmer temperatures now gracing Boston, you can also enjoy dining al fresco at il Casale’s patio, but reservations are strongly recommended no matter when you come to dine since this place seems to be a favorite for locals.

il Casale opens daily at 4:30 PM at 50 Leonard Street in Belmont, MA
Il Casale on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Brunch at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar

Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar South BostonMichael Conlon and Eric Aulenback who opened Lincoln to much fanfare in 2012 opened Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar on Broadway in Southie in January 2015, and this past weekend Sergio and I joined a group of friends to try their Sunday brunch. While Loco’s dinner menu serves a variety of tacos, ceviche, grilled fish, and fresh guacamole, the brunch menu adds some really delicious breakfast options worth trying and certainly unique to the neighborhood it calls home.

The brunch menu is divided into Desayuno – breakfast items; Tortas – sandwiches; and Tacos ranging from $9-$15.  We indulged in a couple of different homemade guacamole orders including one with pineapple ($12) and whipped ($12), while both were fresh, I preferred the chunkier texture of the pineapple guacamole.

Loco Brunch Southie

Omelet Con Tasso $12

Sergio opted for Loco’s Omelet Con Tasso which had cajun ham, oyster mushrooms, onions, goat cheese and was topped with pico de gallo and a side of warm tortillas. His breakfast was delicious and full of flavor, providing a nice spin on a traditional American breakfast.

Burrito de Chorizo $12

Burrito de Chorizo $12

I opted for the Burrito de Chorizo, which had two eggs over easy, potatoes, chorizo, cheese and hot sauce.  As with Sergio’s choice, my breakfast was incredibly flavorful. The runny egg and cheese combined nicely with the heartier ingredients in the burrito and paired well with the spicy Bloody Mary I ordered.

Budin de Pan $13

Budin de Pan $13

Lastly we indulged by ordering the Budin de Pan (Locos take on French Toast). This plate rocked my world and is something I will order when we next visit (because we will be back).  Two pieces of soft white bread are served crispy on the outside with cinnamon and vanilla custard, creamy cheese, fresh berries and dulce de leche, which is what you see atop this pile of decadence.

Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar serves brunch starting at 10AM on Saturday and Sunday.  Reservations are strongly recommended.
Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston, a self described modern Italian cuisine restaurant, opened in the space formerly occupied by Radius on the edge of the financial district.  The Serafina restaurant chain currently operates more than two dozen locations globally, but this marks the first location in New England so I was curious to visit the new restaurant. The muted colors and open space looked carefully thought out but the open dining space and bar only proved to make the space incredibly loud.  Our waitress practically had to shout to be heard.

The menu is moderately priced with an entire page dedicated to pizzas, that range from $13 – $25 and main plates and pastas ranging from $14-$32 with most dining options ranging from $17 – $22.

Serafina Restaurant Review

Serafina Boston Charred Octopus $16

Dinner was a bit inconsistent with our appetizer and dessert being the most memorable.  Above is a photograph of the appetizer Sergio and I shared, Charred Octopus.  The Octopus was very flavorful and not too chewy and was something I would likely order and recommend to others visiting Serafina Boston.

Restaurant review of Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston Gnocchi Di Mamma $19

Sergio’s dinner was unfortunately not as appealing.  The Gnocchi Di Mamma which he asked to have with a Bolognese sauce was disappointing.  The Gnocchi wasn’t as soft as hoped and the sauce was overly sweet. The sauce was so dissatisfying, I’d actually strongly recommend substituting the sauce for something else if it comes with your meal.

restaurant review Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston Veal Scaloppine $27

Fortunately, my meal was more appetizing.  I enjoyed the Veal Scaloppine, but it was not particularly memorable and if I come back I would probably focus on Serafina’s long list of pizzas, hoping for better luck and finding something as satisfying as our appetizer or dessert which I will slightly obsess over now.

restaurant review serafina boston

Serafina Boston Focaccia Nutella $16

The meal started on a high point with the Charred Octopus and it concluded on a similar note thanks to the incredibly decadent dessert, Focaccia Nutella, which sandwiches thinly sliced strawberries with a healthy spread of Nutella and capped by a thin foccaccia-like bread that is sprinkled with powdered sugar and sliced much like a pizza pie.

I’ll give Serafina Boston a pass for the mezza mezza dining experience since they have only been open for a month.  For anyone hosting events it is worth noting that the restaurant features nice private dining and function space on the lower level. Serafina Boston is located at 10 High Street in downtown Boston.

Serafina on Urbanspoon


Restaurant review: Amber India (Yerba Buena – SF)

restaurant review, san francisco, indianOn a recent business trip to California, I found myself with a spare evening before flying home so I decided to try an Indian restaurant between Mission and Market Streets called Amber India.  Large glass windows allowed me to look into a sleek dining room and comfortable lounge so I opted to check it out; preferring the bar over the larger dining room so I could people watch while eating.  The people watching proved to be a bust; nobody that interesting despite the bustling lounge but my seat was very comfortable and the service was excellent.

Amber India San Francisco, Yerba Buena

Amber India Yerba Buena Tandoori Chicken and Onion Chilli Kulcha

Apparently Amber India has five different locations but this is the only one in San Francisco and as near as I can tell it opened back in 2011.  It is conveniently located next to the Four Seasons Hotel in a small promenade that is home to several other restaurants as well.  There is a separate bar menu comprised of shared appetizers, but you can order from the main menu that ranges between $16-$19 for vegetarian dishes and $23 – $30 for most of their other plates.

San Francisco, SOMA restaurant

Amber India Yerba Buena Tandori Chicken for $21.95

I chose the Tandoori Chicken ($21.95) which comes out hissing and steaming on a black iron skillet.  The smell of the meat, seasoning and onions instantly set my mouth watering.  The party seated next to me actually paused when the plate was served – such was the noise and heady aroma.  I also chose to order their Onion Chilli Kulcha ($7.00); Naan bread stuffed with onions and chilli.  This was delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the sauces served with dinner.

I really liked everything about my dining experience at Amber India.  The staff was prompt and friendly – answering all my questions about their menu.  The food was really delicious – rich with flavor and beautiful in appearance.  My only disappointment was after my visit I read a few reviews that made me realize if I’m fortunate enough to return I should try their signature plate, Butter Chicken.

Amber India is located SOMA at 25 Yerba Buena Lane 415-777-0500

  Amber India on Urbanspoon