WATERMELON “STEAK” SALAD
At 51 Lincoln, a fruity summertime staple is cooked to look just like another warm-weather favorite. Watermelon “steak” salad ($11) is a mainstay at Jeff Fournier’s upbeat neighborhood joint, where his own paintings adorn the walls. He bakes seedless watermelon in butter and sherry, dusts it with coriander and fennel, then sears it on high heat. The result is a charred, almost meaty melon. He serves it with golden beets, French feta, red-beet vinaigrette, and fresh herbs — plucked straight from his rooftop garden.
51 Lincoln Street, Newton, 617-965-3100, 51lincolnnewton.com
BOCATA CALAMARES FRITOS
Taberna de Haro is chef-owner Deborah Hansen’s sliver of Spain in Brookline. At the bar, you can point and order from a tapas case like the Spanish do, or sample exotic sandwiches, called bocatas, for $5.50 each during happy hour, Monday through Saturday from 5 until 7 p.m., and late night Thursday through Saturday from 10 till midnight. The bocata calamares fritos is a summery choice: Captain Marden’s squid is coated in flour and deep-fried, then drizzled with aioli and stuffed into an Iggy’s baguette with onions and lettuce. It’s a taste of the Barcelona beach.
Taberna de Haro
999 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-277-8272, tabernaboston.com
CHILLED CORN CUSTARD
On August 1, 80 Thoreau chef Carolyn Johnson launches a four-course $45 corn and tomato dinner series that runs through the 17th. A standout is guaranteed to be the chilled corn custard appetizer, showcasing sweet corn picked daily at Concord’s Brigham Farm. The cool, smooth custard is paired with a fresh heirloom tomato sauce and comes with a side salad of slightly spicy local greens, which Johnson often sources from nearby Verrill Farm. It’s topped off with a crisp cornmeal and Parmesan tuile. Order it as part of the dinner series or a la carte for $10.
80 Thoreau Street, Concord, 978-318-0008, 80thoreau.com
GOAT MILK BURRATA
Creamy. Salty. Sweet. What more could you ask of an appetizer? The Salty Pig’s Kevin O’Donnell festoons buttery house-made goat milk burrata ($10) with pickled local strawberries, shaved rhubarb, asparagus ribbons, spiced pistachios, Calabrian chilies, basil, and watermelon radish. Strawberries come from Sudbury’s Siena Farms; other produce is foraged at the Copley Square Farmers Market. (As summer continues, local tomatoes and cured tuna roe will replace strawberries.) It’s popular at the busy patio or bar, where walk-ins are welcome.
The Salty Pig
130 Dartmouth Street, Boston, 617-536-6200, thesaltypig.com
ZA’ATAR-SPICED BARNEGAT LIGHT SEA SCALLOPS
Lumiere’s airy space is ideal for a date: subdued, softly lit, and steps from the West Newton Cinema. Here, sweet day-boat sea scallops ($18) sit on chef Michael Leviton’s creative variation on peas and carrots: a bed of green-chickpea hummus and carrot sesame tahini. The tahini, made with carrot juice reduction, adds earthiness, and a chunky puree of turnips pickled with beet juice furnishes a bright pink kick. It’s a quick and pretty bar snack, perfect if you’re hurrying to make a movie.
1293 Washington Street, West Newton, 617-244-9199, lumiererestaurant.com
Eastern Standard’s kinetic patio on Kenmore Square is a prime spot to enjoy cocktails and watch the crowds. Try bartender Bob McCoy’s refreshing Marco Polo ($10), a nod to Europe’s aperitif culture. “I can picture sipping one of these in the late afternoon on the streets of Venice,” he says. Homemade vermouth infused with rhubarb is paired with Aperol and brut rose. It’s a bubbly jolt in a highball glass.
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-532-9100, easternstandardboston.com
ENGLISH PEA RAVIOLI WITH LOBSTER
Catalyst chef William Kovel adores this “simple, clean, elegant” dish that marries Massachusetts lobster with delicate English peas ($12). It’s a dream meal if you need a light carb fix; ravioli are folded with lobster, pureed peas, a bit of ricotta and mascarpone, and just a hint of mint — no leaden pasta pillows here. (All pasta is made in house, so the ravioli are always fresh.) It’s a popular solo bar dish, and since this is techie Kendall Square, you won’t feel silly if a laptop is your date.
300 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-576-3000, catalystrestaurant.com
BISTEEYA AU LAIT WITH PEACHES
Ana Sortun’s Oleana, a Mediterranean fortress on Inman Square’s fringes, is known for its farm focus — as well as a verdant patio that makes overheated city life feel like a memory. Here, pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick uses seasonal fruit in her desserts. This summer, look for bisteeya au lait ($12) with peaches, basil, and white chocolate. Kilpatrick calls it a Moroccan version of a Napoleon, using crackly brik pastry layered with basil-poached peaches and white chocolate-olive oil cream, drizzled with bright green basil syrup. The basil hails from Siena Farms, run by Sortun’s husband, Chris Kurth.
134 Hampshire Street,Cambridge, 617-661-0505, oleanarestaurant.com
YELLOWFIN TUNA WITH SICILIAN LEMON SAUCE
This citrus dish ($18) is a welcome lift on muggy summer nights. Giulia chef Michael Pagliarini’s lemon sauce is emulsified using painstakingly sourced olive oils, typically from Puglia, which he says pair well with raw fish. He mixes a simple salad of local cucumber and pickled shallots, then serves it with squares of sashimi-style yellowfin tuna, topped with thinly sliced bottarga (a dried fish roe). The small plate feels virtuous. “It’s bright and clean and tastes of the lemon essence,” Pagliarini says, “then just disappears.” If you can assemble a group of eight or more, reserve the communal white-oak pasta table.
1682 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-441-2800, giuliarestaurant.com
CHOCOLATE TART WITH MAMEY ICE CREAM
Gustazo Cuban Cafe chef-owner Patricia Estorino was amazed to find the tropical fruit mamey (which some say tastes a little like papaya) on a recent trip to Russo’s Market in Watertown. She snapped it up and turned it into ice cream. The pink-hued scoop arrives atop a chocolate tart ($9), sprinkled with pistachio and chocolate shavings. Be sure to call and check on the availability of the dessert before heading out to the boisterous and BYOB cafe.
Gustazo Cuban Cafe
289 Belmont Street, Belmont, 855-487-8296, gustazo-cubancafe.com
Bar manager Scott Shoer whips up strawberry margaritas ($11) on command at mellow Sycamore, where the open kitchen lends a convivial vibe. He uses tequila infused with strawberries from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, shaken with a squeeze of lime and strawberry syrup infused with Thai bird chilies — served straight up in a coupe glass. “It’s a kitschy drink,” he says with a laugh, “a guilty pleasure.”
755 Beacon Street, Newton, 617-244-4445, sycamorenewton.com
When summer arrives, Bondir chef Jason Bond longs for semifreddo, an Italian dessert similar to frozen mousse. Bond’s bracing version ($12) stars his favorite fruits of the moment. Right now he’s using strawberries mixed with garden herbs like calamint and hyssop, steeped in sweet milk, to make a fresh froth similar to light whipped cream. As the season wanes, he’ll swap strawberries for peaches, apricots, blueberries, and Concord grapes. Speaking of which: Soon you’ll be able to taste Bond’s fruity desserts in Concord, where he’s planning to open a second Bondir on Walden Street in October.
279A Broadway, Cambridge, 617-661-0009, bondircambridge.com