Maggiano’s Little Italy

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We live in a city where Italian food is not hard to come by, the North End has an area called “Little Italy” so you know there must be some authentic Italian food available. However, good, fresh, family style Italian food is a different story. Maggiano’s is that perfect Italian family style restaurant located in the heart of Boston near the theater district. Whenever you come there it feels like a real Italian restaurant with a lot of people, great food and even better conversations. I’ve been here many times, for birthdays, family dinners, and dinners with friends and I have yet to come on a night when it is not crowded.

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Every time I have been there we have always ordered some house salads as a starter and sometimes the stuffed mushrooms, along with some seafood dishes and pasta of course. The salads come out in timely manner and can feed the entire table. The vegetables and mixed greens are always fresh and crispy and there is just the right amount of dressing (if you wish you have dressing on the side, simply ask). The stuffed mushrooms were cooked to perfection. I have had some when they are too salty, too dry, or simply overcooked, these however, were done just right, my only critique would be to add a little more flavor to them, but that is personal preference. For seafood dishes I have had their salmon and their seafood pasta which includes mussels, clams, and shrimp. I will be honest, i am very picky about seafood. The salmon is not bad, but that is all I can say about it. It is farm raised salmon which is cooked in a very standard and traditional way to appeal to the general public and does not have much flavor or flair to it. Truth be told, it is a little bland and flavorless. However, it is cooked just right in the sense that it is not overcooked, or undercooked and the fish is fresh. If you are thinking of a seafood dish i would recommend the seafood pasta. That dish is full of flavor and a kick. The seafood used it fresh and cooked just right. The pasta is not overcooked and the tomato sauce has the perfect amount of spice to it which complements all the ingredients together, given that mussels and clams can be a tad bit bland is not prepared correctly.

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Now one thing that can make or break a restaurant experience is the service. I have been to many restaurants where the food was impeccable, but the service was sub par, making me never want to return. More times than none I have experienced exceptional service at this restaurant, with kind and attentive waiters who were patient and willing to to go above and beyond to provide that excellent dining experience. However, one time I came with a few friends and their parents and we were finally called to be seated by the manager when he stood in front of us talking to a friend for over 5 minutes and the hostess apologized for the wait and escorted us to our table. Needless to say this simple action of ignorance and inattentiveness by none other than the manager set a certain mood for the rest of the meal. I will say this, later on during our meal he came over and apologized for his action and comped a few dishes from our meal. I think it was the least he could do. Will I hold this action against him? No, but it is a moment that is memorable about this place now and for that reason I would not be able to give this place 5/5.

 

The food may not be perfect in my book, or cooked in the style that I would want it to be. I am very specific and enjoy things a certain way. However, that being said, everyone I dine with is also particular and enjoys different things. This is one restaurant that I have never had any problems or complaints about no matter who I bring here, and for that reason I find this place to be one of the best family style Italian restaurants out city has to offer. There is bound to be something here that will please everyone. Given everything i will give this place 3.5/5 for food, ambiance, and service. I recommend that next time you are looking for an Italian restaurant to bring a large party to, you bring them here.

 

 

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Georgetown Cupcakes

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Who doesn’t like cupcakes?! They’re sweet and little and put a smile on anyones face. Georgetown Cupcakes originated on DC and only rather recently finally made its way over to the New England area, finding a new location right on Newbury St in Boston. I am so glad that they came here! When they first opened in the late summer, there was a line down the block of people waiting to try one of the famous cupcakes.

They have a variety of flavors which include some of the classics like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry and then there are other flavors which include salted caramel, coffee cookies and creme, vegan apple cinnamon, and many more. Here’s a secret though, if you follow them on twitter they also have a secret cupcake of the day. It’s a FREE secret cupcake of the day, so if you find out what it is, just head on over to the cupcake shop and name the cupcake flavor by name, and if they still have any left its your little free afternoon delight!

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I’ll tell you this though, just like any person I do love desserts, never been a big cupcake person, but I’ll have one from time to time. If i do go for a cupcake, chances are it will be a cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes. They’re the perfect size, not too big, and at least for me, there are no over the top crazy flavors. I’m a simple girl and like simple, classic desserts. I have tried one of their more interesting flavors though, the banana split cupcake (it was one of the free cupcakes of the day, so i couldn’t resist) and it was incredible! Pretty sure, no matter which cupcakes you get from this adorable cupcake shop you won’t be disappointed. Whether you’re getting some for coworkers, family, or friends, you’ll put a smile on anyones face.

This is my favorite cupcake shop in the city. The shop is adorable the service is great, you will always be greeted by smiling faces which are happy to assist you and you will be lost in a world of cupcakes. Overall I give this place a 5. If you’ve been here I hope you enjoyed it and go back, and if you haven’t I highly recommend trying this place out over other cupcake bakeries in Boston.

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28 Degree’s

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I have some terrible news. If you havent already been to this place, you’re out of luck! 28 Degree’s closed last year, probably some of the saddest news i’ve received recently (pertaining to food of course). Ive been to this place several times and not always for food. I have to say, this was probably one of the trendiest places I know in Boston.

The atmosphere is great, the bartenders are superb, and the food is delicious. I’ve had plenty of girls nights out here or just casual drinks with friends and have never been disappointed. They had great martinis, especially the blueberry basil martini, which was just the right amount of fresh blueberry puree mixed with lemon juice and the perfect hint of basil. If you’re one for specialty drinks I would have recommended the peach lavender collins. Though i am not typically a gin person, this drink was the perfect combination of gin, peach, lavender, and fresh lemon. The ideal mix between citrus and fruity.

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Now on to my favorite topic, their food. I’ll start with one of my favorites, their truffle fries are to die for! Every time we would get some for the table they would always disappear within minutes. The fries are cooked crisp to perfection and drizzled in the perfect amount of truffle oil, but not so much that they are drenched, some fresh herbs, and sprinkled with some parmesan cheese.  Their oysters are also delicious. Very fresh and very well presented.

Something unique about this place though, that may sound strange to many, is their bathroom. When i was first introduced to this restaurant, my friend began by talking about their bathroom and how incredibly unique it was. When you walk in it is covered in glass that is a mirror but you can still see through into the mens room where the sinks are. If you take a look above, the ceiling has water flowing above, something you dont see anywhere else in Boston. Super modern and unique.

I loved this place! The food, drinks, atmosphere, and design of the place were all superb. I am sad to see this place close, it is a great loss for Boston. I gave this place a 5 for the service, food, and ambiance. I hope many of you had the opportunity to give this place a try while it was around.

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The Paris Creperie

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This used to be one of my absolute favorite places to go to. The Paris Creperie, or as it used to be called, The Paris Cafe, has been in Brookline for years. I remember coming here with friends back when i was in high school for a nutella frappe or a sweet crepe. I cant remember how many people i introduced to this hidden gem… I guess you can say that now its no longer so hidden.

Throughout the years the upgraded and updated the place and of course it looks much better. They added a food truck which you can find all over boston, and I highly recommend trying both a sweet and savory crepe. My favorite used the be chicken caesar crepe, it was perfect. The chicken to lettuce ratio and the dressing they used was light so it didn’t take away from any of the other flavors. My favorite sweet crepe was the Nutella crepe. I like to go for the classics, and chocolate is my favorite. My friends loved some of the other veggie savory crepes and one of their all time favorites was the buffalo chicken crepe (if you’re a buffalo chicken fan, you would love this).

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So here’s the problem. Although I really do love this place, the food is great, it pretty much is a hidden gem thats kind of a tiny whole in the wall. I have to give credit that the owners have really done a lot with the amount of space they have. The new menu is awful! Forget that they raised their prices from like $6 – $8 a crepe which are now $11 and up, they also completely changed their menu and from the words of the staff “got rid of a few ingredients”. So if i made you want a caesar salad crepe or a buffalo chicken crepe, don’t bother going, you wont find it on the menu anymore. You can build your own crepe though, but that time my friend built her own, one crepe cost her $20. I think for that price I would rather go to Paris, visit the Eiffel Tower again and get a fresh crepe at a real French cafe.

Overall I give this place a 5. I still love their crepes and i’m not sure if you can find a Nutella frappe like theirs anywhere else, but will i frequent the place as often as I did before? Definitely not. Maybe once in a blue moon for a sweet crepe and frappe if anything.

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Figs

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Figs, located right in Beacon Hill is a small restaurant with incredible food. It is known for its pizza and once you try it you will understand why. The restaurant itself is small and has a great feel to it. One thing you should know is that when you choose to come here, there is always a wait to get a table and be seated because this restaurant does not take reservations. However, the pizza is so great that it is well worth the wait.

The pizza is very fresh and made right in front of you. They have a great variety of options for the meat eaters to the vegetarians, there is something for everyone. If I tried a great vegetarian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, and eggplant. Yet, if you are not in the mood for pizza thats alright. They have a great array of pasta options as well. I have to say that although we waited for 40 minutes to get a table it was well worth the wait. It is definitely one of those special hidden gems. I highly suggest everyone tries this place. Overall, this place gets 5 stars for service and food.

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Russell House Tavern

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Located right in the heart of Harvard Square, you can only imagine what the crowd and feel to Russell House Tavern would be. This place is very Posh and stylish with an air of elegance and maturity. When you walk on you’ll see that there are two floors to this restaurant as well as a bar located downstairs that is always crowded in cheery in the evenings.

The first time i came here we sat downstairs right in the center of everything. We began our night with a couple of cocktails and some salads. Although a salad is such a simple dish, theirs were superb. They had fresh greens, nuts, pears, and other fruits. The combination with the light dressing was perfect and not too heavy. For the main course I got the salmon that came with mashed potatoes and vegetables that were lightly steamed. Lets just say that it was simply cooked to perfection. The different flavors blended perfectly together and the fish itself was not lacking in flavor or too salty. I was very impressed. My friends even tried the burgers and those too were exquisite. Overall when it came to the food we had no complaints. We even stayed and indulged ourselves in dessert.

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Now when it came to the service the first time we came there the service was impeccable. I had no complaints. Our waiter was very attentive, checked in on us multiple times and never left us sitting waiting for a second. However, the second time we came we sat in a different section and out waitress was very flaky. We waited for a long time to receive any service at all. We constantly had to ask other waiters for service such as simply refilling our water glass. Needless to say, the tip was not the same the second time.

Overall, I really enjoy this place and highly recommend it for a great dinner or just a night out for drinks at a bar. I would give it 4 stars for food, service, and location. There is always so much going on in Harvard Square that you will definitely find something to do after the meal.

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Appetito

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Just like the next person I love Italian food. However, I love real, authentic italian food. There are so many Italian restaurants around Boston now, you can easily find somewhere to eat, the problem is finding the right place to eat. The North End is notorious for having some of the best Italian restaurants and I won’t argue with that. However, I stumbled upon Apettito, which is a quaint little restaurant located right in Newton Center. The first time I went, i came with my family for a fun, loud, typical dinner out.

I’ll tell you this much. It definitely has the feel of a family owned restaurant, with the small quaint tables scattered throughout the restaurant and themed pictures painted on the walls throughout. The menu looked fairly decent so we were all excited to give it a try.

However, the food was sub par, the service was not great. There were only a few waitresses during a busy period, if I remember correctly both times I came to this place there were only two waitresses working. The bread that was brought out to us and said to be fresh, was cold and not fresh to say the least. The pasta we ordered  was very average. I ordered one with cranberries, broccoli, and chicken with a light Alfredo sauce, yet it came out like something I would make on my own. The fish we ordered was luke warm and apart from being very bland it was also overly salty. We were all not impressed to say the least.

For the overall service and quality of the food I would say that this place was very overpriced. Being located where it was, i would expect more from it because there are some great restaurants located right across the street, such as Tomato the Pizza Kitchen. Therefore, this restaurant gets 2 stars from me, and although I already came there twice hoping that the experience would improve, it did not.

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Golden Temple

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As far as i can remember, Golden Temple was always everyone’s favorite Chinese Restaurant. Located right in Brookline, this restaurant was always in the center of everything. Apart for its great food, the restaurant was also known for their great service, wonderful ambiance inside, and having ice sculptures every year around New Years.

I have to admit there are so many Chinese Restaurants out there today, that it almost feels like they are at every corner of every street. I will say this. I have been coming to this place for years and cannot complain about the food or service. We have been to many different restaurants throughout the years, but somehow we find ourselves coming back to this place.

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The portions are a decent size, it is easy to share with your family and friends and the place is very clean and relaxing. Compared to other places everything is fresh and held to the highest standards. If you are ever in the area and in the mood for Chinese I highly recommend this place, you will not be disappointed.

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Eastern Standard

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Owned by the same people who run Island Creek Oyster Bar, Eatern Standard is a very trendy restaurant and bar located right in Kenmore Square in Boston. They have available outdoor seating in the summer, which is great when its a nice day out. Also, inside the restaurant is very trendy with a great bar area off to the left and separate from the rest of the sit down restaurant area. In the evenings this area is always packed with a relatively young crowd enjoying drinks in the city.

However, for a restaurant located in such a great location and with such great design and decoration, they have a very poor menu for actual dining. I have gone there a couple of times for lunch, just cocktails, and dinner. If you are going for a cocktail it is a great place. They offer drinks that other places don’t offer anymore, such as the pain killer which is a coconut and pineapple drink.  If you are looking for a meal here you will most likely be disappointed. There is not a great variety of options to begin with and the dishes are rather simple and not very creative. I’ve tried the burger and I was left unhappy with it. They also have some salad options, sandwiches, and mac and cheese. I was expecting something a little more high end, given the image they were going for.

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Overall I am not pleased with this place. I think that the atmosphere is great and I enjoy coming to grab a drink, but I will not be coming there for food. I think that it isnt cooked up to standard and I think it is overpriced for what it is. For service and food this restaurant gets a 3 from me.

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In- A- Pickle

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This tiny little breakfast place, In-A- Pickle located right in the center of Waltham is incredibly popular. I had heard about the place for years from my friends, who would go there on a weekly basis, every Sunday morning. I decided if everyone was talking about it that I should give it a try too. I finally went there with my friend and got to experience this little breakfast diner.

What can I tell you, they have a pretty interesting and fun menu. Youll find a variety of different pancakes, from reeces to m&m’s and many other ones that sound delicious. Idecided to try the nutella french toast… It was the prefect decision. I was in heaven. Lets just say it was the perfect combination of chocolate and toast for breakfast. Since it was a late brunch we decided to also try one of their panini’s. It was a very interesting panini that had turkey, cheese, lettuce, and even apples. You would think that it would taste odd given the variety of different ingredients, but somehow they all complimented each other very well. I would say that there are still many things on the menu that I have yet to try.

The food was great and the service was good too. Our waitress was very attentive and polite. She would always come by and refill our drinks as  well as ask if there was anything else that we needed. There was never a moment when we felt that we were neglected or mistreated, and for a small diner such as this one I would say that that was a plus and rather impressive.

I will say this, when it comes to the appeal of the restaurant, there isnt really much there. It is a diner after all… Youll see that inside it looks a little over crowded with the little tables and chairs everywhere. The outside, isnt very appealing either, but what makes up for it, is the quality of the food. Remember this isnt gourmet food like Mistral, but if you are looking for a fun and quick brunch, i would definitely recooment this place. Thats why i will give this place 4 stars overall.in a pickle

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