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Boston’s best new restaurants of 2011

Retro burgers, a giant grocery store, and the cookie that could change your life.

The Salty Pig gave South End and Back Bay residents a spacious and much-needed beer garden.matthew j. lee/globe staff/Globe Staff

5 Napkin Burger

It may look like an old-fashioned butcher shop, but this upscale Back Bay spot offers every modern variation on the burger you could dream up – beef, tuna, turkey, lamb kofta, veggie – and all between great buns. End with a glorious espresso brownie sundae or a shake in the classic conical cup.

Prudential Center, Boston, 617-375-2277, www.5napkinburger.com

80 Thoreau

Who needs encyclopedic menus? At this Concord restaurant, chef Carolyn Johnson offers seven appetizers, eight entrees, and five desserts. It’s just enough. Dishes such as foie gras torchon with Concord grapes and a corn madeleine, seared gnocchi with rabbit ragout, and scallops with Macomber turnips, mushrooms, and beurre rouge are inventive without being showy. With a lively bar scene, right at the train station, this works as both neighborhood and occasion restaurant.


80 Thoreau Street, Concord, 978-318-0008, www.80thoreau.com

A Tavola in Winchester. Brian Feulner for The Boston Globe

A Tavola

Chef Vittorio Ettore’s Bistro 5 has been the toast of Medford for years. Now he’s opened a second, more casual spot, in Winchester. Small plates of duck sausage and foie gras mousse, goat’s milk ricotta, and grilled calamari, along with pasta dishes and entrees, are sure to make it the toast of the town.

34 Church Street, Winchester, 781-729-1040, www.atavolawinchester.com


Into the burgeoning restaurant scene of Cambridge’s Kendall Square comes Abigail’s, with a menu that reveals the presence of ex-East Coast Grill staffers in the kitchen. You’ll find raw bar and barbecue in the eclectic mix, which also includes the likes of Gouda fries, persimmon-beet salad, green curry duck, and baked shells and cheese. Add in a bar run by a former B-Side employee and you wind up with one fine neighborhood hangout.

291 3d Street, Cambridge, 617-945-9086,www.abigails-restaurant.net

American Provisions

This stellar artisanal food store from the team behind Local 149 brings a bit of finery to South Boston. The shelves are stocked with fresh produce, local cheeses, and handmade pastas and sauces. The addition of a sandwich counter (try the hefty roast beef-based Boursin & the Beast) is a great reason for non-Southie residents to pay a visit.


613 East Broadway, South Boston, 617-269-6100, www.americanprovisions.com

Area Four

It’s like two restaurants in one, both tailor-made for Tech Square: an all-day bakery-cafe attached to a sparse, industrial dining room with two wood-fired ovens. The ovens produce most of the menu, so puffed-crust pizzas, like the puttanesca topped with green olives, hot peppers, and anchovies, retain the slightest char; roasted veggie dishes, served family style, are crisped on top. The bakery turns out fresh scones, buns, and daily sandwich specials, plus locally roasted coffee. This was just what the square (and Cambridge) needed.

500 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-758-4444,www.areafour.com

Blackstrap BBQ

Everything on the blackboard is irresistible. Here, more members of the East Coast Grill diaspora are making succulent dry-rub pork ribs, sweet-potato salad, bacony collards, buttermilk-fried onion rings, fried pickles, and hunks of sweet corn bread, all worth the trip to faraway Winthrop. GPS will get you there.

47A Woodside Avenue (French Square), Winthrop, 617-207-1783, www.blackstrapbbq.com

Bon Chon

This Allston restaurant serves all the usual – udon and sushi, bibimbap and bulgogi – but the real draw is the impossibly delicious, extremely addictive Korean-style fried chicken, with skin as crisp as rice paper. Choose your favorite sauce: soy-garlic or spicy. On the side you get slaw and pickled daikon; the sweet-puckery flavors pair perfectly with the spicy chicken.


123 Brighton Avenue, Allston, 617-254-8888


Chef Jason Bond’s first solo venture quickly became a hit in Cambridge and beyond, winning plaudits from the Globe, Bon Appetit, and others. Bondir emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients; nothing new about that. And yet the dishes on the constantly changing menu don’t resemble anyone else’s. From red corn grits with pork tongue blood sausage, fried oyster, and caviar to pumpkin spaghetti with chestnuts, roasted long squash, and smoked scamorza, they’re all Bond, all the time.

279A Broadway, Cambridge, 617-661-0009, www.bondircambridge.com

Bosphorus Mediterranean Restaurant

Sit on an expansive banquette, under a giant hanging shade, against intense brick-red walls, and dine on traditional Turkish cuisine at this Cambridge spot, including the tiny ravioli in tomato sauce with yogurt, one dish of many that defines the union of East and West.

1164 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge, 617-945-2730, www.bosphoruscambridge.com


Catalyst isn’t the molecular gastronomy-inspired Cambridge restaurant one might expect from the scientific name. Instead, it reminds us why traditional cooking methods have been around so long. Roasting, searing, and cooking chickens on spits, chef-owner William Kovel and crew turn out dishes that gently nudge convention while avoiding outright rebellion. Try the roasted cod in mussels chowder or the tournedos topped with taleggio ravioli.

300 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-576-3000,www.catalystrestaurant.com

Ceia Kitchen + Bar

Newburyport may be long on charm, but it’s been pretty short on good restaurants. So locals cheered the addition of Ceia, which features a casual but stylish setting and food


of the European coast (the name, pronounced “SAY-yuh,” means “supper” in Portuguese). Chef Billy Brandolini serves up pappardelle with a pulled rabbit, Dijon, and veal ragout, suckling pig with vanilla cauliflower puree, venison with farro and port date risotto.

25 State Street, Newburyport, 978-358-8112, www.ceia-newburyport.com

Christina’s Cafe

Many chandeliers and faux-ancient columns decorate the Newton Highlands dining room where Christina Patsios, husband Dimitrios Ourgantzidis, and son Angelo offer home-style fare, such as fried haloumi cheese and eggplant stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and tomato, and topped with feta.

1203 Walnut Street, Newton Highlands, 617-916-5532

Ambiance at the El Centro in the South End.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

El Centro

After a string of Mexican eateries opened last spring, the South End welcomed what is perhaps the most authentic: El Centro from Sonoran-born owner Allan Rodriguez. Using a stash of his own family’s recipes, he’s turning out a tiny taste of his homeland with dishes like pollo al mole and carne asada.

472 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, 617-262-5708

Firebrand Saints

Come gawk at the tech-driven art installations that cover the walls and invade the television sets of this casual bar near MIT. But stay and feast your eyes on the open kitchen, where slowly browning chickens circle the rotisserie spit and chefs hand-carve thick slices of porchetta and roast beef for sandwiches. The wide range of burgers was clearly built to accommodate the hordes of hoodied tech employees who crowd this Kendall Square spot.


1 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-401-3399, www.firebrandsaints.com

The Hawthorne

From behind the bar at Eastern Standard, Jackson Cannon introduced many Bostonians to craft cocktails. So it makes sense that his drinks are the focus at this classy Hotel Commonwealth spot. Bites such as deviled eggs with crisp prosciutto and grilled cheese are available, but they play second fiddle to perfectly made Aviations and Hanky Pankies.

500a Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-532-9150, www.thehawthornebar.com

Butter poached lobster from Legal Harborside.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Legal Harborside

This vast, shiny flagship on Boston’s waterfront is a three-story salute to a local institution. The first floor is a spiffed-up Legal Sea Foods, casual but with more interesting than usual offerings. The second floor houses a high-end restaurant. And the third floor is an immensely popular rooftop bar that people line up for on weekend nights. Yes, Legal has a bouncer. Times have changed – and so has this part of the waterfront.

270 Northern Avenue, Boston, 617-477-2900, www.legalseafoods.com

Local 149

Last spring, Southie got its own version of the British gastropub with the opening of Local 149. A massive bar, usually populated by sports nuts, anchors the room, while banquettes and cafe tables make it comfortable for families. Dishes like fried chicken and waffles and a pressed duck club sandwich show the owners are out to improve on the neighborhood’s usual pub grub.

149 P Street, South Boston, 617-269-0900, www.local149.com

Macalato, macaron shells filled with gelato at Macaron Sweeterie. Bill Greene/Globe Staff

Macaron Sweeterie

Inspired by Meryl Streep’s bakery-owning character in It’s Complicated, former interior designer Sella Abalian looked to traditional French macarons to fuel a career change. Abalian, who calls the colorful almond powder confections “more of a delicacy than a cupcake,” offers at least a dozen flavors daily, as well as fresh gelato and ground-to-order espresso in her charming Lexington sweet shop.

848 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, 781-863-0848, www.macaronsweeterie.com

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant

Sisters who ran a small place in Morocco are cooking with various visiting family members in this bare-bones outfit in a former pizza place in Malden. Friday is couscous night – tender, feathery grains under chunks of lamb and root vegetables. And if nothing else, you must remember this: roast chicken with preserved lemons, and lamb shank with prunes.

188 Salem Street, Malden, 781-605-0520

Orleans Crawfish at Hearth Stone

From the people who brought you Brother’s Crawfish in Dorchester comes another Asian-Cajun restaurant, in Randolph. There is a large Vietnamese population in New Orleans, and the cuisines go surprisingly well together. Gumbo and papaya salad, banh mi and po’ boys, jambalaya and extra-spicy crawfish boil: It’s all as American as apple pie.

326 North Main Street (Route 28), Randolph, 781-885-2985, www.orleanscrawfish.com

Pho Le Vietnamese Cuisine

The latest venture of Duyen Le, who opened the Pho Pasteur chain (and then changed the name of several locations to Le’s), Dorchester’s Pho Le is filled with Vietnamese families, often three generations deep, dining on make-your-own fresh rolls, giant crepes with shrimp and pork, and, of course, stunning bowls of pho.

1356 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, 617-506-6294

Porter Cafe

Tiny, dimly lit, and offering dozens of craft beers – it’s already a great bar. It doesn’t hurt that chef Jimmy Whelen is cooking some of the tastiest food in West Roxbury, including fish tacos, burgers, po’ boys, and steak frites.

1723 Centre Street, West Roxbury, 617-942-2579

Redd’s in Rozzie

This Roslindale restaurant is ultra-local, both in terms of the ingredients it uses and the customers it serves. Chef Charlie Redd cooks creative comfort food with a Southern accent: wild mushrooms with cheese grits souffle; grilled trout with mashed potatoes, mustard greens, and pecan butter. There are house cocktails, microbrews, and interesting wine selections. Nothing costs more than $20. Every neighborhood needs a spot like this – particularly one that has Tuesday burger-and-bingo nights.

4257 Washington Street, Roslindale, 617-325-1000, www.reddsinrozzie.com

Japanese and Chinese food are on the menu at the Red Lantern.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Red Lantern

Food could have been an afterthought at this Boston restaurant from the folks behind Shrine at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods and the Estate. Decorated with Buddhas and populated by scantily clad cocktail waitresses, Red Lantern has a night-life vibe. But tasty snacks such as duck buns and lobster Rangoon, sushi, and steaks make it more than just a scene.

39 Stanhope Street, Boston, 617-262-3900, www.redlanternboston.com


Judging from the weekend crowd at Remick’s, Quincy finally got the kind of restaurant it’s been craving. It’s stylish, with plenty of flat-screen televisions, nights featuring live music, and a menu designed by chef Marc Orfaly (Pigalle, Marco). The food roams the globe, with shrimp and grits, curried chicken wings, Portuguese clam stew, and ziti Bolognese.

1657 Hancock Street, Quincy, 617-481-1010, www.remicksquincy.com

The "Mighty Rib" contains Fontina, Braised Short Rib and Caramelized Onions. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Last year, Best of the New gave a shout-out to Boston’s cheerleading for food trucks; this year, the trucks moved from idea to reality. Roxy’s impressed on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race and now hawks creative combinations like Vermont cheddar and roasted butternut squash around the city.


The Salty Pig

When this charcuterie funhouse opened over the summer, it gave South End and Back Bay residents a spacious and much-needed beer garden. A generous selection of cured meats and pates and small-batch cheeses allow you to assemble your own snack board, complete with house-made pickles and your choice of jams. Pair one of those with an oven-charred pizza or a seasonal salad for the perfect salty-sweet accompaniment to a selection from the lengthy list of craft brews.

130 Dartmouth Street, Boston, 617-536-6200, www.thesaltypig.com

Seven Star Street Bistro

Before closing in the late ’90s, chef Joseph Lin’s Seven Star Mandarin House had a serious following in Newton. Now, a new Seven Star has opened in Roslindale, run by Lin and son Christopher, who attended cooking school in San Francisco. The update specializes in xiao chi, or “small bites” – Taiwanese-style won tons, braised pork belly buns, sticky-sweet ribs in an orange-soy glaze. You’ll also find five-flavor chicken, Hunan sesame beef, and Sichuan spiced shrimp.

153-155 Belgrade Avenue, Roslindale, 617-325-8686, www.sevenstarstreetbistro.com

Staff Meal

Another food-truck standout, Staff Meal is the brainchild of former fine-dining chefs. The experience shows. Just check out sandwiches of such foodstuffs as foie gras and pigs’ ears.



The 29-seat place in Watertown isn’t much to look at, but the food is exceptional: wings with Moxie glaze, haddock in beer batter with homemade fries, skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Paul Maslow opened the restaurant in 1986, though, so what’s new? That would be Paul’s son, Tim, who this year arrived in town after half a dozen years with New York celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku. With his revamped menu and new dinner service, Strip-T’s has been reborn.

93 School Street, Watertown, 617-923-4330,www.stripts.com

Sugar Baking Co. & Restaurant

A good brunch is hard find. If that’s what you’re looking for, stop by Roslindale’s Sugar, where decadent French toast stuffed with brie and fig jam or “choose your own adventure” omelets get the day started off right. Sandwiches and comfort food take you into the afternoon with style.

4172 Washington Street, Roslindale, 617-327-4174, www.sugarbakingcompany.com

Sweet Cheeks

Relaxed as an afternoon on a porch swing, chef Tiffani Faison’s new Boston project serves barbecue on metal trays and beverages in Mason jars. The Rocca and Top Chef alum offers up pulled pork, brisket, beans, coleslaw, and more with the music blasting. Don’t miss one of the year’s best desserts: a supersized take on a Nutter Butter cookie.

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-266-1300,www.sweetcheeksq.com

Golden chicken with asparagus and potatoes at Tico in Boston.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe


In the midst of this year’s tequila and tacos boom, the upscale Tico, from Michael Schlow of Radius, Via Matta, and Alta Strada, offered an instant party. For those who work nearby, it’s already a Nuevo Mexican destination for blowing off steam over margaritas and lobster-avocado tacos, seviche, and bacon cheeseburgers.

222 Berkeley Street, Boston, 617-351-0400, www.ticoboston.com


Legendary chef Jody Adams changed the game on Boston’s waterfront with her first new project in almost a decade: the casual, globally influenced Trade, which gives downtowners an affordable range of dishes served all day. Neighbors flock for rosemary and ricotta salata flatbread and a fried chicken and kimchi sandwich.

540 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, 617-451-1234, www.trade-boston.com

Tres Gatos

It’s a record store! It’s a bookstore! It’s a tapas bar! Somehow these three concepts combine to make the ideal JP hangout. It might not work if the food weren’t great, but it is, from the familiar tortilla espanola, to less common selections such as confit chicken thigh with chanterelles. Match them with a selection from the all-Spanish wine list.

470 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4851, www.tresgatosjp.com


Chef Paul Wahlberg, brother of Mark and Donnie, follows his upscale Alma Nove with this buzzy Hingham exemplar of the burger renaissance. It offers everything you’d want – a variety of patties, including turkey and veggie, fries and onion rings, boozy shakes – all served up with a side of celebrity. You’ll know the place by the line out the door.

19 Shipyard Drive, Hingham, 781-749-2110, www.wahlburgers.com


The word “supermarket” doesn’t do justice to the new, 138,000-square-foot Wegmans in Northborough, New England’s largest grocery store. You’ll find local products like beef from the Berkshires, some 400 cheeses, and wines from $6 to $700 in the 3,500-bottle liquor store. The prepared-foods area alone qualifies this place as a – what, super-mega-market?

9102 Shops Way, Northborough, 508-936-1900, www.wegmans.com

--Best of the New by Ami Albernaz, Michelle Bermas, Karen Campbell, Jaci Conry, Geoff Edgers, Devra First, Geoffrey Gagnon, Alyssa Giacobbe, Sheryl Julian, Marni Elyse Katz, Christopher Klein, Dan Morrell, Erin Byers Murray, Leon Neyfakh, Shira Springer, Tina Sutton, Visi Tilak, Kathy Tully, and Liza Weisstuch, Ellen Albanese. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.