Boston's restaurant scene had a banner year in 2014, the kind of year that makes you want to blow kisses to your supermodel wife in Costa Rica on live television. Ok, maybe you don't have Gisele, but you do have a chance to eat bacon-wrapped quail, fried catfish sandwiches, and more courtesy of these 15 new Hub restaurants you may have missed while you were busy holiday-ing.
Tucked away on Provence St, MAST’ -- not a pirate-themed restaurant, it's shorthand for “master of one’s craft” -- transports you to southern Italy -- again, not by pirate ship -- for gratifying Neapolitan bites. Chef Celio Pereira (Mamma Maria, Ristorante Euno) cranks out authentic Napoletana pizzas, like the Quattro Formaggi, from an imported wood-fired oven, in addition to tantalizing apps (grand salumi plate) and house-made pastas (linguine with clams). For your drinking pleasure and convenience, they’ll have community bottle service: buy a bottle of scotch (or similar liquor) for the table now, and store it at the restaurant for the future. It's not just booze; it's an investment.
The Assembly Row juggernaut cannot be contained! The newest addition is River Bar from the team behind The Independent, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, and Brass Union. Chef Patrick Gilmartin (Rialto) has an elevated street food menu with eclectic choices such as chorizo Scotch quail eggs and roasted Vadouvan half-chicken with baby eggplant and yogurt. There's an ample/approachable beer and wine list, but you need to knock back the signature cocktail, an Absinthe Frappe (what!?) with Herbsaint and Benedictine, as you admire the sweet view of the Mystic.
Now residing in the former home of First Printer and, before that, Herrell’s, Kennedy’s is a laid-back-yet-plush gastropub that straddles that line between traditional and untraditional with mash-up fare like hickory-infused sizzling PEI mussels and the Dunster St. Classic Burger made from a house-ground blend of short rib and sirloin. The Martini list offers these cheeky-named gems: The Monroe (honey vodka, Luxardo cherry), 109 (apple vodka), and Jackie O (tequila, Domaine de Canton, hot sauce). For nostalgia's sake, you can still dine in the old bank vault.
The geniuses behind Journeyman and Backbar deliver a one-two punch in the suddenly hyper-charged Kendall Square. First up is Ames Street Deli, the extra-funky sandwich haven featuring meat and bread combos that will cause any grandparents to look at the menu quizzically (more quizzically than usual). Take the rabbit mortadella, for example, fittingly served on carrot bread, or the foie gras sammy on coconut brioche. The cocktail menu is organized by a cross-referenced spreadsheet thing to help you select a flavor profile and booze family. Example: Row “Bitter” + Column “Whiskey” = A&W, constructed from scotch, Cocchi, and Gran Classico.
Look out Mac… it’s the second punch! Adjacent to Ames Street Deli, Study follows the Journeyman format with feasts in four or 13 courses at $55 and $125, respectively. Or if you insist on breaking from the confines of fixed menus, you can order à la carte with dishes like savory ink gnocchi (mango, abalone mushroom), delicate quail (bacon, madeira), and delectable monkfish (lobster roe, grapefruit). Be on the lookout for the roaming, and diabolically tempting, cheese cart.
Co-owners (also childhood pals) Mark Young and Chef Greg Reeves (both vets of Green Street Grill) finally opened their first restaurant, and Central Square rejoiced. Viale, in the Rendezvous shell, serves up rustic-refined Italian eats. Opt for wood-fired fried calamari pizza (always) and/or the pumpkin ravioli bathed in aged sherry and brown butter. The wines tilt toward small organic and biodynamic growers, while the cocktails rock hard, like the 1919 with Rittenhouse 100 rye, Old Monk rum, Punt e Mes, and Benedictine.
Prepare for Asian street food below street level. Carved into the defunct Tamarind Bay’s subterranean digs, Night Market keeps it simple with oh-so-satisfying bites such as daikon fries (with garlic-black bean aioli), Sichuan-spiced fried chicken wings, and toasts with pork belly and caramel or poached egg and coconut jam. As a special beverage bonus, chill out with sake and plum wine slushies or a Hitachino Nest white ale from Japan.
In case you haven’t heard, Rosebud is back in action and completely refreshed, courtesy of Davis Square dynamos John Delpha and Joe Cassinelli (Posto, Painted Burro). This friendly Southern comfort food hootenanny plucks the right banjo strings with vittles like the chicken thigh platter and the bacon-bedazzled chicken-fried catfish sandwich. In grand Southern fashion, it's aging some moonshine cocktails for maximum effect, particularly the 38-day Vida with Del Maguey mezcal, Punt e Mes, and PF Orange curaçao.
A reboot, The Tap returns as The Tap Trailhouse, a modern gastropub peppered with Colonial-era influences. Start off with house-cured bacon and fried smelts, followed immediately by Dock Square mini oyster tacos and a plate of maple-glazed short-smoked duck breast. They’re taking their beers very seriously, with 24 tap lines devoted to regional goods like Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau and Peak Organic Fresh Cut pilsner. If you can’t decide, sip a flight of four… or perhaps something from their impressive spirits and cocktails lists, or both... maybe drinking helps you make decisions.
Slumbrew’s much-anticipated American Fresh Taproom shoots straight: they pour delicious beers and serve meals that complement those beers ("Nice hops, Beer!" "Thank you, Pretzels"), all from the comfort of their year-round beer garden. They have ten draft lines with a variety of flagships (Trekker Trippel), seasonals (Attic & Eaves), exclusives (Assembly Row ale), and limiteds (Yankee Swap). Mandatory snacks include cheddar ale soup, Fluffernutter sandwiches, and their signature fresh charcuterie plate.
North End (Underneath Modern Pastry)
Just when you thought that Modern Pastry couldn’t get any better, it went and opened a no-nonsense bar under the shop. Go Garfield-style and eat your dessert first upstairs, then head downstairs for basic beers, wines, and mixed drinks. Once those cannoli have settled, dive into Nachos Supreme, steak tacos, and sliders. End your night with the Modern Burger, 8oz. of juicy grilled Angus.
One minute you’re strolling through Libby’s Liquors, and a second later you’re in Asia aka Bao Nation. Racks of booze give way to graffitied walls and the aroma of buns and dumplings. Grab the Libby’s Bao with pork baby back ribs and Korean BBQ sauce. Also worthy: the Chinatown Bao (crispy fried duck), M.I.T. Bao (slow-cooked minced lamb), and Squid Bao (seared calamari). For toppers, live the dream with Caramel-Bacon Bao, a masterpiece with Applewood-smoked bacon and peanut brittle on a chocolate-dusted bun.
With 125 years of French baking tradition under their belt, PAUL will be busting yours with melt-in-your-mouth treats and decadent café cuisine. Revel in the quiche Lorraine, mini cheese gougères, and the PAUL Mixte, a classic sandwich with butter, ham, and Swiss on baguettine. For your sweet tooth, meander through the patisserie and just TRY to resist seasonal cakes, tarts, and the famous macarons. There’s also no escaping a jam-stuffed beignet. You’ve been warned.
The titans of tapas have branched out from Brookline to dominate the South End with small plates of deliciousness. Rally a large crew so you can order two (or three) of everything. In the meat and cheese department, Six-Month Manchego and Sobrasada Mallorcana (spreadable spiced sausage) are game-changers. You should also share/devour the Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio, garlicky Gambas al Ajillo, and Beef Tongue Pintxos drizzled with house-made habanero sauce.
After immediately hypnotizing all of Burlington this summer, Besito keeps the mind-altering guac flowing at its new Chestnut Hill fiesta spot. Freshness and authenticity shine through every dish and drink, as evidenced by the crispity-crunchity Tacos de Camarones, the refreshing Ceviche del Día, and the Negro Modelo-marinated Filete de Res al Chipotle. Speaking of cervezas, they have a well-rounded line-up of beers, plus house sangria, jazzy cocktails (Besito Tequila Mojito), and over 75 tequilas for the mezcal-minded.
Sign up here for our daily Boston email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the Hub has to offer.
1. MAST' Restaurant and Drinkery45 Province St, Boston
2. River Bar661 Assembly Row, Somerville
3. Kennedy's on the Square15 Dunster St, Cambridge
4. Ames Street Deli73 Ames St, Cambridge
5. Study73 Ames Street, Cambridge
6. Viale502 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
7. Night Market48 JFK St, Cambridge
8. Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar381 Summer St, Somerville
9. Tap Trailhouse19 Union St, Boston
10. American Fresh Taproom301 Canal Street, Somerville
11. Modern Underground Bar236 Hanover St, Boston
12. Bao Nation575 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
13. PAUL631 Assembly Row, #230, Boston
14. Barcelona Wine Bar525 Tremont St, South End
15. Besito Mexican75 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington
Tucked away on Provence Street, MAST’ (very shorthand for “master of one’s craft”) transports you to southern Italy for gratifying Neapolitan bites. Chef Celio Pereira (Mamma Maria, Ristorante Euno) is cranking out authentic Napoletana pizzas from the imported wood-fired oven, plus tantalizing apps and house-made pastas.
A palace of wood, glass, and white marble, Somerville's River Bar dishes up Asian fusions on American classics. The sleek interior and fire-warmed back patio guarantee you'll see more than a few couples splitting a small plate of fried potatoes with miso aioli or corned beef and cabbage dumplings. If they're really comfortable with each other, them they're probably sinking their teeth right into the grass-fed burger -- a bulgogi-marination creation topped with bacon eggs rolls -- instead. That's true love (we mean for the burger).
This laid-back-yet-plush gastropub straddles that traditional/untraditional line with mashup fare like hickory-infused Sizzling PEI Mussels and the Dunster St Classic Burger made from a house-ground blend (short rib and sirloin). The martini list offers these cheeky-named gems: The Monroe (honey vodka, Luxardo cherry), 109 (apple vodka), and Jackie O (tequila, Domaine de Canton, hot sauce). Nostalgia alert: you can still dine in the First Printer-turned-Herrell's old vault!
The geniuses behind Journeyman and Backbar deliver a one-two punch in the suddenly hyper-charged Kendall Square. First up is Ames Street Deli, the extra-funky sammy haven featuring not-your-grandpa’s meat-on-bread combos. Think zanier, more to the tune of rabbit mortadella on carrot bread (ironic) and foie gras on coconut brioche.
Look out… it’s the second punch! (You forgot, didn’t you?) Adjacent to Ames Street Deli, Study follows the Journeyman format with four- and 13-course feasts at $55 and $125, respectively. However, at Study you can chart your own course through dishes like savory ink gnocchi (mango, abalone mushroom), delicate quail (bacon, madeira), and delectable monkfish (lobster roe, grapefruit).
Co-owners (also childhood pals) Mark Young and Chef Greg Reeves (both vets of Green Street Grill) finally opened their first restaurant, and Central Square rejoiced. Viale, in the Rendezvous shell, takes you to the Mediterranean for rustic-refined Italian eats sourced from local ingredients. Opt for wood-fired Fried Calamari Pizza (always) and/or the Pumpkin Ravioli bathed in aged sherry and brown butter. The wines tilt toward small organic and biodynamic growers, while the cocktails will just make you tilt. The 1919 rocks hard with Rittenhouse 100 Rye, Old Monk Rum, Punt e Mes, and Benedictine.
If you prefer to enjoy your Asian street food below street level, this is the place for you. Carved into the defunct Tamarind Bay’s subterranean digs, Night Market keeps it simple with oh-so-satisfying bites such as Daikon Fries (with garlic/black bean aioli), Sichuan-spiced Fried Chicken Wings, and Toasts with pork belly & caramel or poached egg & coconut jam.
Located in Davis Square, Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar offers roadhouse regional comfort food from Chef/Partner John Delpha and Chef/Owner Joe Cassinelli, known for his nearby Davis Square faves Posto and The Painted Burro. There are traditional plates like fried green tomatoes and the fried chicken thigh platter, as well as distinctive must-try dishes like dry fried green beans (with smoked pork shoulder) and the "BBQ Baconator Meatloaf Fatty" (poblano-onion gravy).
The Tap Trailhouse combines old-timey drinking with modern mojo to form a Colonial era-inspired gastropub. Their local drink program features as many New England brews and spirits as possible, and the fully stocked liquor cabinet & beer cocktails on draft are ample enough to fuel a brigade of Minutemen through two revolutions. Other signature drinks are designated by Ports of Call (favored by mariners of old), Ladles, Bowls & Straws (traditional social refreshments), and Pistols & Daggers (booze-heavy cocktails for shooting and sipping). Go for a shooter of The New Englander with Bully Boy Boston rum and chase it with the house exclusive IPA: Freedom Trail Ale.
Slumbrew’s much-anticipated American Fresh Taproom shoots straight: it pours delicious beers and serves perfect-with-delicious-beers grub…from the comfort of its year-round beer garden. Let’s talk brews: it has ten draft lines consisting of flagships (Trekker Trippel), seasonals (Attic & Eaves), exclusives (Assembly Row Ale), and limiteds (Yankee Swap).
Just when you thought that Modern Pastry couldn’t get any better, they went and opened a no-nonsense Italian bar under the shop. Go Garfield-style and eat your dessert first upstairs, then head downstairs for basic beers, wines, and mixed drinks.
Racks of Libby's Liquor booze give way to crazy graffitied walls and the even crazier aroma of buns and dumplings. In honor of their home, grab the Libby’s Bao with pork baby back ribs (deboned) and Korean BBQ sauce—not to mention the namesake bao.
With 125 years of French baking tradition under their belt, this branch of a popular European chain will be busting yours with melt-in-your-mouth treats and decadent café cuisine. Magically teleport to Paris while reveling in Quiche Lorraine, Mini Cheese Gougeres, and the PAUL Mixte, a classic sandwich with butter, ham, and Swiss on baguettine.
Now welcoming Catalan-philes in Washington Square's former American Craft, Barcelona Wine Bar's a rustic Spanish small platery that's -- not unlike middle school dances whenever NEXT's "Too Close" comes on -- heavy on the wood and designed to "recreate the feel and the look of an evening on the Ramblas".