Ciao Pizza and Pasta is a little shop located just across the street from the Chelsea courthouse. The newly renovated eat in area features about 10 seats at the bar – but most people come in for takeout. The restaurant features coal fired pizza made in 90 seconds and pasta made from scratch.
We had a chance to sample a not yet on the menu appetizer, the shrimp bruschetta. The bread is the pizza dough and it is light as a feather – I love the flavors of this dish- bold flavor but not heavy at all.
Of course I tried the bolognese made with housemade campanelle pasta ($14). The chorizo bolognese is not a traditional one, but it puts this bolognese near the top of the list for all time favorite bolognese dishes. It’s lighter than its creamier counterparts and topped with Parmigianno reggiano and bacon.
The porcini fettucini was an unexpected favorite – served with mushrooms, black truffle butter and Parmigiano reggiano. This is the kind of dish that you would expect at a high end restaurant, and at $12, it’s a steal!
The herbed gnocchetti ($18) was light as air, served with red wine braised short ribs, root vegetables and Parmesan cheese. A great choice on a cold rainy day – comfort food at its best.
And as if I couldn’t fit another bite in, we decided we just had to try a pizza, so we picked the sopressata ($12) that was topped with garlic confit (!!), cherry peppers and pecorino cheese. The crust is amazing and the toppings are generous. The pizzas are personal sized, so don’t feel bad eating one all by yourself (I will not confirm or deny that this may or may not have happened when we went back for takeout).
Another item not to miss on their menu, the housemade potato chips! Light and salty, with a little bit of a kick from paprika.
Thanks Richard from the Passionate Foodie for the awesome suggestion!
Ciao Pizza and Pasta
59 Williams Street, Chelsea, MA
I love Italian food. I was excited when Leah and I had the opportunity to check out La Motta in the South End. The restaurant comes to you from the same folks that run Aquitaine, Cinquecento, Gaslight and Metropolis.
I love the decor here: the warm lighting, the tin ceilings, the high back banquets, the tall windows, the exposed brick all contribute to the ambiance. They are working on an outdoor patio in the back, can’t wait for it to open!
My favorite thing about this menu is that there are a ton of small plates – they may have even been (*just a tad*) bit better than my main meal. I love to try a little of everything when I go out to eat, so small plates are right up my alley. We started with the Brussels sprouts ($12) that are skillet roasted and are tossed with truffle pecorino and toasted sesame. Yes please! This dish is really speaking my language – just enough pecorino on it to make it feel decadent (and less healthy 😉 ).
A complimentary pickled vegetable plate came over to the table which was delicious! I think the cauliflower was my favorite.
Try the meatballs! You can order 1 for $3 or 4 for $11. We had the spicy pork, veal and oregano and the classic beef, veal, pork and Parmesan. All meatballs are served with polenta and rage Siciliano. The meatballs were delicious, flavorful and just the right consistency.
The burrata ($13) is served over an eggplant caponata, and topped with smoked sea salt. While it comes with olive oil crostini, I preferred it with the softer bread that came to the table with the pickled vegetables. The burrata was so smooth and creamy – dreamy! And frankly, I could have eaten the caponata straight for my next 10 meals, it was that good.
For our first main dish we shared the Anatra gnocchi ($26), served with crispy duck, tallegio crema and marsala. I found this to be an interesting combination – the cheesy sauce, almost heavy, with the rich crispy duck – good thing that the portion wasn’t huge. While the combination was interesting, I did like the flavors of both parts – the crispy duck was excellent.
And if you know me at all, you know that I can’t go anywhere new without trying the bolognese ($25). This came with a wild boar sugo and was topped with Parmesan cheese. The sauce was light and a little creamy and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente.
For dessert we tried the panna cotta ($8) vanilla custard with Amarena cherries and landed pistachios. I liked the individual flavors of this dish and the presentation was beautiful.
And of course we had to try the hazelnut skillet cookie ($8) that came out bubbling hot served topped with fluff and caramel sauce.
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of La Motta. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
1357 Washington Street, Boston, MA
There are a lot of new restaurants moving into Fenway. If you’re looking for some place to go before the game that might ot as crowded as those right next to the park, try the newly opened Waxy’s in Brookline, right at St. Mary’s T stop. This modern Irish bar has a great outdoor patio, perfect for when the weather heats up!
What makes this bar different than others? The food. Waxy’s tries to use local ingredients and vendors as much as they can! Their craft cocktails change with the seasons, keeping in mind what is fresh.
They have tons of inside seating, complete with semi private rooms.
While we were served charcuterie at the opening party, they have plenty of other things on the menu: from drunken mussels to scotch eggs to pulled pork to flatbreads to fish and chips.
The wings were a big hit – house specialty wings tossed with a sea salt and caramel glaze. Personally, I am looking forward to going back an trying some of the flatbreads. The “avoca” with cremini, shitake, portabello and yellow oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, kale and honey drizzle sounds amazing as well as the “emyvale” which is pulled pork, fennel seeds, braised fennel and mascarpone cheese. At $9 a flatbread, these are a great deal!
We had a chance to hang out with Bar Director James O’Brien, who talked to us about the bar and the cocktail menu.
Did you know that Waxy’s is smartphone friendly, the bar is equipped with 18 electrical outlets and USB ports!
There were 3 signature cocktails for the evening, above is the “shake, rattle and rum” wich is Three Olives Elvis vodka, Real McCoy 5 year rum, pineapple, ginger and Angostura bitters.
The “note to self” is Hennessy Black, Carpano Antica, Pussers 15, Averna, and Peychaud’s bitters.
Looking for a more fruity cocktail, try the fruitations cranberry, made with Absolut Elyx, fruitations pure cranberry, lime and organic soda. Not a cocktail kind of person, don’t worry, theyhave 40 beers on tap that will rotate throughout the year.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the opening party of Waxy’s. My food and beverages were provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
Waxy’s Modern Irish Bar and Kitchen
1032 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA
I have to admit, I haven’t been to the Kinsale since my college days. I was invited to check out their menu one afternoon for lunch. The restaurant is located in Government Center, steps from the T stop.
If you’re driving in, the Kinsale offers free validated parking after 5pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends at the Center Plaza Garage. They have a lot of great specials, like 25 cent wings on Mondays, stump trivia on Wednesdays and karaoke on Thursdays. They also offer bar bites from 3pm – 7pm and 10pm – 12am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays.
We start off with the reuben egg rolls ($9.50) at our server’s suggestion, he mentions it is one of the most popular items on the menu. They are filled with corned beef, cabbage, swiss cheese and served with a side of thousand island dressing. While certainly not the traditional Irish fare, we were pleased with the flavors of this dish.
For my entree I had the fried chicken sandwich, which I hope makes it to the regular menu. The chicken was lightly breaded and super crispy. It came topped with crispy onions, lettuce and tomato and was served with a side of fries. The sandwich size was generous, certainly enough left over for the next day’s lunch.
We also had the roast chicken club ($10.50) made with pulled roasted chicken, applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato and garlic aioli served on parmesan sage bread. Instead of fries we opted for the colcannon mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes and cabbage) which were super creamy and delicious. Looking for more traditional Irish food, they certainly have it here: shepherd’s pie, beef and Guinness stew, and beer battered fish and chips to name a few. Service was excellent, our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable.
Disclaimer: I was invited to have lunch at the Kinsale, my meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
2 Center Plaza, Boston, MA
AKA Bistro closed its doors on May 8th, but we were lucky enough to visit before they did. AKA was run by Chef/Owner Chris Chung, who you may know from his days at UNI in the Elliot Hotel. AKA served French and Asian cuisine with classic favorites like quiche lorraine, croque monsieur, and ramen.
A few friends met up for lunch – we skipped breakfast that day because we knew we would want to order one of everything. To my surprise, I really loved the peas (I’m not a veggie girl).
The French mac and cheese was so decadent and creamy.
I love mushrooms, so I was excited to try the portabella mushroom frites that were served wth a side of miso, wasabi and Thai curry aioli. The frites were light and flavorful on their own, a really nice change of pace.
Leah had the poke, with onions, ginger and pickled mung beans.
We all shared the Aka pizza, a scallion pancake topped with mushrooms and caramelized onions with baby arugula. Put anything on a scallion pancake and I’m all for it – the pancake itself was really light and not greasy at all (like you know they can be – I’m talking to you 2am Chinese take out).
For my main meal I had the bulgogi served over white rice and topped with a soft egg. I loved the marinated meat in this dish – very flavorful. I wish that the egg had been a little runnier, as I love breaking it open and having it run over the top of the dish…that being said, I could eat this for lunch every day!
I love a classic croque monsieur – a grilled cheese with mornay sauce and ham, and this one was served with a side salad which I think you need to balance the richness of the sandwich. Wait, did I just say that?
Miss Chef Chung already? Don’t worry, he is popping up at Liquid Art House tonight to help celebrate their 2 year anniversary. Chung and LAH Chef Doug Rodrigues will join together in the kitchen to put out a special anniversary menu starting at 5pm. Dishes will include Japanese small plates like Hawaiian tuna poke and Scallop ‘motoyaki’. While there, you can check out the newly opened exhibit featuring work by Dante Latessa. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes because music starts at 10pm with beats by DJ Jeff Gill (10:00pm-12:00am) and DJ Epileptech (12:00-1:00am).
Rumor has it that Chef Chung will also be making a guest appearance at Journeyman in Somerville and he will be doing some private catering!
145 Lincoln Road, Lincoln, MA
Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy recently launched a new European style dessert you can find in your local grocery store! The 2 layer dessert comes in 4 flavors: Chocolate Crème, Double Chocolate, Café Au Lait, and Vanilla Crème.
The desserts are made with premium ingredients including cocoa and arabica coffee. Great news, they are Kosher and gluten free so you have no excuses!
The pudding like dessert is smooth and creamy with a whipped cream topping. It’s sure to satisfy your need for something sweet at the end of a meal or a mid afternoon snack! My favorite of the four flavors was the vanilla creme, but don’t take my word for it – pick some up in the dairy case and try it for yourself!
Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary samples of Grand Dessert. All opinions are my own.
It’s hard to find Filipino food in Boston. I was pumped when Kulinarya, a brother sister team, was going to do a pop up at Aurum Hand Pies in Jamaica Plain. Note to self to go back another time top try the hand pies.
I met Leah from Leah’s Life and Fiona from Gourmet Pigs for lunch. We started with the crab cakes: garlic lemongrass crab cake, greens, with a sweet bagoong dressing and fried tocino bits. I love these plates from Ogusky Ceramics – I have 4 pasta plates at home and can’t wait to get more!!
We were anxious to try a little bit of everything on the menu. Next up was the Pinoy Hash: Kamote (sweet potato) and lechon kawali (pork) hash, served with two eggs, and greens. A familiar dish, now we are speaking my language!
Next we sampled the pancakes: 3 ube halaya pancakes with a coconut cream sauce. Not too sweet which was nice. I find that in general, I don’t usually like coconut, but when I have it in Filipino food, I actually enjoy the flavor – perhaps because it isn’t super sweet.
We had the silog: garlic fried rice, Filipino-style pickles (daikon, radish, carrot) and your choice of Tocino (pork belly) or Tortang talong [vegetarian] (eggplant). We sampled a little of each. This was probably my favorite dish of them all.
If you’re interested in trying Filipino food (I highly recommend it), check out their Facebook page for details.
Sundays are all about brunch with friends. We headed out to Littleton, MA to break bread with some of my best foodie pals at Great Road Kitchen. The restaurant comes to you from the team that was formerly behind Vine Brook Tavern – it’s owned by Marcus Palmer and the kitchen is run by Executive Chef Chris Frothingham.
The restaurant is really visually pleasing – a great bar in the front where you can sit an catch the game, counter seating for those who want a look into the kitchen, tall windows to let amazing light onto the lime green banquets and barn doors that can section off tables for private dining.
Lollie had the huevos rancheros ($14), corn tortillas, black beans, chorizo, 2 eggs over easy, pico de gallo, cotija chipotle, and cilantro.
My mom came along with me and she ordered the French Toast ($15) corn flake crusted, warm custard center, maple pecan butter, maple syrup & berries. Love the contrast of the custard center and the corn flake crust – and don’t even get me started on the maple pecan butter….heavenly!
Last but not least, Annie had the steak and eggs ($24) which was a grilled bavette, served with house made fries, 2 fried eggs, and topped with hollandaise and demi glace.
Disclaimer: I was asked to be a guest at Great Road Kitchen. Our meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
Great Road Kitchen
613 Constitution Ave., Littleton, MA
Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and for this preg-o food blogger, I have to celebrate it sober! I popped into Kane’s Donuts in the Financial District on Tuesday to preview their special margarita donut.
Tomorrow is the only day that you can get this specialty donut, so hurry in, they’ll sell out quickly. The shop is located at 2 International Place, at 90 Oliver Street. It’s take out only here, there’s a small counter but standing room only.
It’s not a secret that I love Kane’s Donuts, I visited them multiple times when they did a pop up at The Street in Chestnut Hill.
The smell when you walk in the front door is intoxicating. All of the donuts are made fresh, with locally milled flour, local farm-fresh eggs, organic honey from a local beekeeper, fresh fruit, real bacon, high-quality chocolate, and fresh spices. The margarita donut was good, topped with a candy lime wedge – what I liked about it was that the glaze wasn’t too sweet and artificial tasting, like many margarita flavored things can be – the flavor was subtle and the actual donut was just plain perfection. We tried the lavender donut, which I normally steer clear of, because, again, the flavor is usually too strong for me, but Kane’s donut had a mild, subtle flavor. It felt like a very adult donut. Behind those two donuts is the lemon coconut, a new flavor that is appearing and not shown is the rose donut which will debut next week, topped with candied rose petals.
So stop in tomorrow and pick up a margarita donut, or a dozen…don’t worry, I won’t tell!
90 Oliver Street, Boston, MA
I had been anxiously waiting for the chance to check out Townsman, Matt Jennings’ newest restaurant located on Kingston Street. Matt grew up locally and opened a restaurant, Farmstead, in Rhode Island. They did an awesome Biggie brunch, check out my older post here.
We started off with the dumplings, $11, that were plated on a dish made by Boston potter, Jeremy Ogusky. I love Jeremy’s work, I have the white pasta bowls at home…
I used to hate Brussels Sprouts when I was a kid…although I can’t actually remember my mom every trying to make me eat them…They are so in these days and I love to see what chefs do to make this dish their own. These crispy sprouts are served with malt vinegar aioli, pork fat crouton and harissa spice ($9). Love the flavor and the texture of these sprouts!
I never pass up a fried chicken sandwich when I see one on a menu. Townsman serves theirs with a garlic scape aioli and greens with a side of some delicious dill pickles and house made chips. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – perfect!
How cute is this mini ice cream cone?
120 Kingston Street, Boston, MA