In January, The Boston Globe launched Project Takeout, an initiative with a simple premise: Get takeout; support local, independent restaurants. These businesses, so important to the flavor of our neighborhoods and the fabric of our lives, were fighting to make it through the winter. Since then, each week in this space Globe staffers have shared their favorites to inspire and inform you — pizza joints and soul-food spots, neighborhood staples that have been around forever and businesses that opened during the pandemic and managed to make it work.
Now here we are with winter at our backs. That spring sun feels better than ever. People are getting their vaccines, patios are open for business, and hope is in the air. It’s time to look forward. And so this will be the last week of recommendations, as Project Takeout winds down. We hope you’ve found them useful, and also discovered your own favorite restaurants for to-go meals during this time. And we hope you’ll keep getting takeout as one way to support local, independent restaurants. Having someone else make you dinner is always in season.
Here is my perfect spring afternoon: Pick up some takeout from Chez Pascal in Providence, picnic in nearby Lippitt Park, and then stroll under the trees along Blackstone Boulevard.
Maybe you want to celebrate being vaccinated. Maybe you’re ready to meet that Zoom date face-to-face. But really, you don’t need a reason to treat yourself to meals that will make you say: My God, how can this be so delicious?
The little French-influenced bistro on Providence’s East Side has been owned by Kristin and Matt Gennuso since 2003. The couple met while working at Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston, and they’ve made Chez Pascal into a special place, with a focus on locally sourced, seasonal meals and an ever-changing menu.
In the Before Times, the restaurant’s cozy dining area was a place to linger and savor. After the pandemic hit, the couple decided to open only for takeout and meals on the outdoor patio. They’ve maintained the homey, neighborhood bistro feel while finding a way to make meals that travel well.
Always try Matt’s house-made sausages, sandwiches, and cured meats from the Wurst Kitchen. The “snacky delight package” ($24), with a mix of sweet and salty, had Matt’s chipped pastrami with capers, parsley, dill, and mayonnaise, Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen Triple Creme cheese, and soft onion rolls and kumquat marmalade, both made in house.
Some new items become staples because they’re so popular, like the spiced local lamb shawarma, served with warm pita, hummus, red onion, pea shoots, Liquid Gold Hot Sauce, and cilantro-tahini sauce ($16).
For a picnic in style, there’s the slow-roasted duck breast and crispy duck leg confit, tender meat melting off the bone, accompanied by a root vegetable gratin, honey and herb roasted carrots, and a prune and Port wine sauce ($34).
The restaurateurs also found new ways to connect with their customers. Chez Pascal has a YouTube channel where Matt takes viewers into the kitchen to learn about making stock, butchering chickens, and deglazing a pan. Kristin started the “Hide and Seek” trail series, where she and Matt hide a “Chez Pascal” rock along trails in Rhode Island and give clues where to find it.
All of this has helped them build their community.
“We’ve just become a place where all of the staff has been here for years, and when customers come in, it’s like their home,” Matt said. “We work hard at it and are grateful for our customers, and it pushes us to do more.”
Chez Pascal, 960 Hope St., Providence, 401-421-4422, www.chezpron.com. Appetizers $2-$13, entrees $5.50-$34, desserts $4.50-$12.
— AMANDA MILKOVITS, Rhode Island reporter
Located in Savin Hill, dbar has long been more than just a bar. With chef Chris Coombs running the kitchen for more than a decade, the Dorchester establishment offers a concise menu of inventive takes on comfort food.
While there is a well-decorated patio for outdoor dining, as well as indoor dining, we opted for dbar’s takeout on a Monday evening: Thai chile calamari, hanger steak, roast salmon, and chocolate hazelnut cake. Our order was ready in a remarkably efficient 25 minutes.
The salmon was a favorite, cooked just right, with a lovely herbed crust, and the cake was delightfully light after a protein-rich meal. Dishes held up well in transit, and some included sauces on the side to prevent sogginess. Entrees range from a tuna and salmon poke bowl to penne bolognese; next, we’re looking forward to trying the chicken cooked under a brick, one of dbar’s specialties.
More than a nightclub and restaurant, dbar could also become your takeout mainstay.
dbar, 1236 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-265-4490, www.dbarboston.com. Appetizers $11-$17, entrees $22-$29, desserts $6-$10.
— ERIN CLARK, photographer
I enjoyed editing Steve Syre’s copy when he was a Globe Business columnist. But not as much as I enjoy eating food prepared by his wife, Laura Raposa.
Steve and Laura (self-described farmers’ market “groupie” and former co-conspirator on the Boston Herald’s Inside Track column) opened the Foodsmith at Hall’s Corner in Duxbury nearly six years ago. We’ve been going to the space-squeezed “Bakery + Lunch” shop ever since, drawn by the locally sourced menu and its seasonal iterations, but also by the oven-warm welcome that awaits all who enter. It’s the kind of takeout place that makes you want to stay a while.
At noontime on a recent day, there was a line out the door. (At peak hours, ordering in advance helps.) Raposa and two able assistants worked in sync to assemble the day’s lineup of generous sandwiches. It featured an “old school” chicken salad — built with poached chicken, red onion, celery, herbs, spices, greens, and tomato — and a turkey meatloaf flavored with mushrooms, carrot, celery, tomato, tamari, and more.
My go-to is the tuna on ciabatta (pressed or toasted). Takeout tuna can be dicey — too runny, too fishy, too chunky; we’ve all been there. This version is perfectly balanced. Coming in a close second on our list of favorites is the smashed chickpea toast with apple cider, red chile, and fennel pickled with onion. Such healthy choices! Naturally, that means an indulgence or three is always in order. On our last visit, we slunk away with strawberry-rhubarb muffins, zucchini pecan bread, and chocolate chunk cookies. It only seemed fair.
The Foodsmith, 17 Standish St., Duxbury, 781-934-0134, www.thefoodsmithduxbury.com. Breakfast $4.50-$6.30, lunch $7.25-$13 (on summer weekends, a lobster BLT goes for $18.95), baked goods $2.75 and $2.95. The once-a-month “Friday Night Supper” feeds two or four and usually costs $50 for two people, $100 for four.
— MARK POTHIER, senior assistant news editor
JACK’S ABBY BEER HALL & KITCHEN
Before the pandemic, my husband and I spent many a lazy Saturday afternoon at Jack’s Abby Beer Hall & Kitchen. It was always packed, and yet we always found a spot at the long communal tables.
It was a gathering place where some 1,000 would eat, drink, and chat over the course of a weekend day. Takeout was an afterthought at this lively beer hall, until COVID hit.
“The vast majority of the last year has been curbside pickup, online ordering — all these fun things that we never did before,” said Sam Hendler, who co-owns the Jack’s Abby brewery and beer hall with brothers Jack and Eric.
The menu offers typical bar fare: burgers, fries, wings. The hefty German-style pretzel is a favorite. But pizza is the star. And there is no need to settle for cheese or pepperoni.
I always return to the potato and bacon. Think the salty, crunchy creaminess of a loaded baked potato — on wood-fired pizza crust. Maybe you, too, will taste it and wonder: Why don’t more people put potato and bacon on pizza? The eggplant parm pizza is also fun: crispy sliced eggplant with tomato and dollops of melted cheese. For something lighter and fresher, try the farmers’ market pizza with squash, Brussels sprouts, goat cheese, and a touch of maple sweetness.
Jack’s Abby is known for craft beer, and there is plenty on the takeout menu. The blood orange wheat is delightfully fruity but not sweet, and feels especially right on a warm day. If you want your beer to double as dessert, try a variety of the Framinghammer, a dark Baltic porter flavored with ingredients like chocolate and ginger. (Watch out: It’s potent.)
I have daydreamed about returning to the beer hall when it reopens — next time, with a toddler in tow. Until then, I’ll get my beer and pizza curbside and enjoy it on the couch.
Jack’s Abby Beer Hall & Kitchen, 100 Clinton St., Framingham, 774-777-5085, https://jacksabby.com. Bar fare and snacks $5-$18, sandwiches $10-$18, pizza $12-$17.
— PRIYANKA DAYAL McCLUSKEY, health care reporter
Can you have a go-to restaurant if you never actually go there? Over the past year-plus of the pandemic, Olivia’s Bistro has become a source of takeout comfort in a nearly existential sense: Italian cuisine lifted out of heavy-sauce traditionalism and given a shot of umami. Opened by owners Desmond Rushe and Jessica Roche in January 2018 in Newton’s working-class Nonantum neighborhood, Olivia’s stands out for its smart spin on the classics courtesy of chef John Hanlon (who was off in New York filming an episode of “Chopped” for the Food Network the day I called), and for alternate vegan and gluten-free menus as long as your arms. Because both my kids were diagnosed with celiac in childhood, my wife and I got used to eating GF, and, trust me, few restaurants do it as much and as well as Olivia’s. Tragically, my favorite gluten-free pasta dish, an orecchiette pugliese with spicy sausage, had disappeared from the menu when we had some friends over recently and ordered in. I had fusilli carbonara with pancetta instead, with no complaints. The others had the salmon farfalloni; a tender braised lamb shank with lentils, fennel, and gremolata; and GF fusilli salmon alla vodka. The two couples sat in our backyard on the season’s first warm evening, on opposite ends of a long table, and toasted and tasted the return of normalcy — and a return to Olivia’s.
Olivia’s Bistro, 136 Adams St., Newton, 617-916-0979, www.oliviasbistronewton.com. Appetizers $10-$16, pizza $15-$19, entrees $23-$32, dessert $7-$10.
— TY BURR, film critic and columnist
You don’t expect to find a restaurant like Clean Slate Eatery on Cape Cod: two seatings a night, 16 diners each, a deliciously unusual — and pricey — six-course meal, each dish finished on a steel table right in front of you by chatty chef-owner Jason Montigel.
Alas, the pandemic. But why let a perfectly good restaurant parking lot go to waste?
And so was born La Tacodilla, a takeout popup Montigel started in a nondescript white trailer in a corner of his West Dennis lot, serving dorado-style tacos — soft corn tortillas folded over and crisped on a flattop — including birria de res tacos, cooked in the reddish fat that seeps out of the guajillo chile stewed beef that ends up inside the taco, with consommé on the side for dipping. (The cooking has since moved inside Clean Slate’s building, but you still order at a walkup window.)
This is pandemic comfort food. My friends chowed down on tinga de pollo, tender shredded chicken cooked in a traditional chipotle, tomato, and onion sauce with more sauce on the side. A choriqueso comes stuffed with chorizo and melted mozzarella with a porky potato puree sauce — “porky” because chorizo fat replaces butter.
One tacodilla isn’t on the menu, but I knew enough to ask. The only vegetarian option listed was shredded Brussels sprouts with an ancho chile-almond-coconut-sweet potato puree. If that’s not your thing, ask for the “secret” avocado, cheese, and onion tacodilla with salsa dip.
A side of birria fries is a meal: a mass of waffle fries coated with a dry peppery mix and topped with spiced beef, cheese, guacamole, and more. A dessert of churros with dulce de leche made us swoon.
There’s lots more on the menu, including soft street tacos and burritos.
Will Clean Slate return? “I really don’t know,” Montigel says. “With Tacodilla, I can serve a lot of my guests from Clean Slate, and I’ve added a much more diverse, younger clientele that couldn’t afford what we were doing at Clean Slate. It just feels right to be serving food right now that more people can enjoy.”
La Tacodilla, 702 Main St. (Route 28), West Dennis, 508-292-8817, www.latacodilla.com. Tacodillas $5-$6.50; dipping sauce $1. Street tacos $4, mulitas (2 per order) $12.50-$14.50, chips and dips $6-$10. Lunch only. Limited hours will increase this summer; check the website or La Tacodilla’s Facebook page.
— TERESA HANAFIN, newsletters editor/Fast Forward newsletter writer
Amanda Milkovits can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits. Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal. Ty Burr can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @tyburr. Teresa M. Hanafin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BostonTeresa.