Skip the North End and Head to Olivadi

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By Ariel:

I love italian food and am always on the hunt for delicious homemade pasta.  I found that at Olivadi in Norwood.  All of the pasta is made fresh each day and melts in your mouth. The restaurant is located just outside of Norwood center, so parking is convenient (no need for the $25 parking garage in the north end!).  The restaurant is upscale, but doesn’t feel stuffy. It is perfect for a date night, celebratory dinner or family gathering. There is an extensive menu which made choosing my dinner option a bit challenging – I wanted to try everything.  The waiters were very attentive and gave great recommendations on the entrees.

We started with the mussels and arancini – both were delicious! 

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I had a seafood pasta dish. It was a cream sauce but not overpowering, so I was able to still enjoy the taste of the fish and the fresh pasta.  

 

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As a great vegetarian option they had raviolis.  My only suggestion would be to ask the chef to go a bit lighter on the marinara sauce. The raviolis were too heavily sauced for my taste.  Even though the appetizers and entrees are delicious the dessert is not to be missed!  The molten lava cake oozes with delectable chocolate.  Of course a standard are the cannolis which may not be as great as those from Modern Pastry in the North End, but they are a close second!

If you are looking for a great italian meal outside of the city, this is the spot for you.

 

 

 

Beer Garden at Charlie’s Kitchen

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By: Hilary

With the weather being absolutely gorgeous this weekend I refused to be cooped up inside and went out for drinks/dinner at Charlie’s Kitchen on Sunday. The con of it being so gorgeous was the patio was packed, but we were able to find a table so I’m not complaining. It’s not the cutest patio/beer garden I’ve ever been in as it doesn’t have a great view, but the benches are comfortable and there’s two longer tables that offer a gas fire in the center which is a huge selling point (especially when the sun starts to go down and it gets colder!). 

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With regards to the food they also have a pretty diverse menu. My date got a grilled cheese with jalapenos, 2 fried eggs, bacon and lots and lots of cheese which was amazing (even though I was terrified to try it since it sounded so gross). I went the safer route and got a buffalo chicken wrap with waffle fries. Because really… who doesn’t pick the waffle fries when given the option. What was great about the wrap was it wasn’t just your standard blue cheese and buffalo sauce – there were other spices mixed in that really gave it a kick and set it apart from your typical bar food. 

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The service was great too – I give the waitresses a lot of credit because it wasn’t easy for just us to squeeze down to the end of the row never mind doing it while carrying beers/food! They were packed and I never really felt neglected in any way which is a huge testament to the servers. 

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Overall this was definitely a 5 bean experience. For anyone looking for an outdoor spot to grab a drink or some quick food you should check it out!

The rivalry continues – Mike’s vs Modern, who is better?

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By: Gaurav

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Anyone who is from the Boston area can tell you about the rivalry that exists between the two of the biggest Italian pastry shops. Situated in the heart of the North End, both serve delicious desserts, especially cannolis.

Last week, my wife and I tried the cannoli and chocolate mousse from Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. To get an unbiased answer, I did not reveal which dessert came from which shop.

Mike’s cannoli is significantly larger in size than Modern’s, and has more cream inside the shell, but the appeal factor was more for Modern’s. Modern’s cannoli looks more rustic and homemade, and is crispier than Mike’s. While presentation does matter when it comes to food, it all comes down to what it tastes like! Both cannolis were extremely fresh, but the cream in Modern’s was softer, creamier, and sweeter. It didn’t take us long to determine that Modern has the superior cannoli. Perfect crispy shell stuffed with creamy ricotta. Simply delicious!

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The next test was for the chocolate mousse cake. This one was really tough, and we went back and forth between the two with every bite. Modern’s consisted of 5 layers, whereas Mike’s consisted of 6 layers. Modern was slightly sweeter, but wasn’t too sweet by any means. What helped us make our decision was how Modern’s Chocolate Mousse just melts in your mouth with every bite. Sorry Mike, this was really close, but Modern was better.

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In terms of customer experience, Modern was hands down better. Their staff was courteous, willing to help and patiently waited for me to take a decision. While the staff was professional at Mike’s Pastry as well, but the experience was quite rushed in general and the staff wasn’t as courteous and helpful. Another huge plus for us is that Modern Pastry has a satellite location in Medford which has ample on-street parking and saves you from th  e hassles of going to the North End, dealing with the traffic and parking situation.

So while this was a tough call, and you can never go wrong with either one, Modern Pastry is definitely better than Mike’s Pastry.

Taqueria Mexico – Worth the Trip!

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By Ariel

So after eating my share of Chipotle, I was craving some authentic Mexican food.  I decided to try Taqueria Mexico in Waltham.  It is situated between a car repair shop and a residential neighborhood, so not your typical restaurant location. When I walked in, I felt like I had actually stepped into someone’s kitchen.  The tables themselves even resembled ones I had seen at friends’ houses. 

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Don’t let the informal atmosphere fool you – the wait on a Saturday night can be almost an hour, so make a reservation (especially if you are going with a group).

Once you sit down they serve a fresh basket of tortilla chips and salsa.  The chips are homemade and a little too greasy for my taste.  The waiters are always busy, so don’t expect them to explain anything to you on the menu. You are lucky if they remember to come back to take your order. All that aside, the food was delicious! 

 

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The entrees aren’t fancy, but they hit the spot! I probably could have skipped the sorry salad on the side of the plate. I think I could have done a better job at home on that one. The meat was cooked perfectly though and had a lot of flavor.  You can really tell the food is freshly prepared.  Everything is also reasonably priced and fits most dinning budgets.

This place is certainly a hidden gem and is worth checking out.

4 Beans

 

 

The Bad and Ugly of Airport Food (No Good here!)

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By Mike

I travel quite a bit for work, and often find myself weighing my dining options at the airport – “which will last better in my stomach for this 4-hour flight, the fast food chain or the no-name restaurant”?

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To say the phrase ‘airport food’ is synonymous with mediocrity is probably being too kind.  This past Monday night I was traveling out of Logan and stopped at Boston Beer Works for a quick bite.  I’ve dined at other Beer Works locations in the past and while it will never be confused with gourmet, it’s typically decent bar food.  So I ordered the BBQ Chicken Sandwich and a Blueberry Beer (sounds safe, right?!?).  Well the blueberries in my beer had the consistency of raisins, the beer was flat and the chicken breast was the size of a sand dollar.  OK, so I may be exaggerating that last part, but there was an inch of excess bun on all sides of the chicken breast.  Why is there such a disparity in the quality of food between the Fenway location and the Logan Airport location?  They are literally separated by 3 miles!

I’ve never quite understood why the airport dining options are so dire.  Is it due to a lack of viable competition?  I mean typically there are only two or three (non fast food) options within each terminal.  Is it because the regulations surrounding getting food into the airport are too strict?  Admittedly, I’m grasping at straws here because I am dumbfounded and frustrated.

I ordered eggs at the Phoenix Airport for breakfast (I believe it was a Wolfgang Bar?) and they tasted like cardboard.  I try to eat relatively healthy, but had to resort to donuts from Dunkin just so I had something in my stomach.  Or I supposed I could have purchased one of the many pre-packaged sandwiches that I’m sure are a week old…

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I realize I’ve gone on a rant here, and thank you for listening.  If I’m rating anything here, I’ll generalize all Airport food and give them 1 star.  Bleh!

 

Dining-In “Prix Fixe”

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By: Hilary

With all of my moving and running around the places I’ve eaten just haven’t been blog post worthy (or I’ve already posted about them) so I figured I would go a different route on April Fools Day. I also tried to come up with a creative April Fools Day article but failed miserably. I’m not creative. Deal with it. 

I wanted to share my experience with Dining In which has saved me on many occasion at work since unfortunately I don’t work in the city and can’t just run out, grab something next door, and be back before my next meeting. If I don’t have time to make lunch in the morning and find myself in back to back meetings all day I usually just order from Dining In (which is sponsored by my company, but you can use it without that). 

Dining In has 2 different ways to purchase – through your organization or not. If you’re going through your organization there are certain restaurants you can order from every day and you get a calendar like in the picture below. There’s extremely subsidized delivery costs and you can order anything on the menu from the restaurant. Don’t worry. You can get Panera every day. If you’re anything like me you were worried about that too! What’s also nice is it’s always delivered at the same time, but what’s not so nice is if you forget to order before 10:30 you’re out of luck. They’ll email you a reminder every day of what your choices are and what time you need to order by. 

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If you’re going it on your own you might find that the delivery costs are fairly high, but in a pinch it’s still better than not eating at all (or eating from the vending machine… not that I’ve ever done that….) 

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If you’re out of the city or just too busy to even think about leaving your own desk to go get lunch consider Dining In. It’s definitely been a convenient way to keep from starving for me. 

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Looking for a place to Gather?

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By Ariel

The Seaport area is fast becoming a hot spot for new restaurants. Once I get over my frustration with the lack of public transportation down to that area of the city, I have to admit it is a great place. With all the new construction, delicious restaurants and view of the water – what could be better?

A couple friends of mine decided to try a new restaurant called Gather.  It is located next to a new innovation lounge where entrepreneurs are encouraged to come and brain storm ideas.  In essence it is a super charged Starbucks with white boards everywhere and comfy couches. Once you walk past the lounge you enter into a small restaurant which feels quite large due to the high ceilings and huge glass windows. The lighting was unique, but set the mood nicely.

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We started with the mussel appetizer which was in a curry sauce – a very unique combination.  It was delicious! The best part was it was huge, so it was perfect to share with 4 people. Isn’t it the worst when you order an appetizer to share and then there isn’t enough to go around?!

The entrees were also excellent. I would highly recommend the braised short rib gnocchi. The meat melted in your mouth and added just enough flavor to the gnocchi that no other sauce was needed.

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must have!

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There were so many options on the menu from flat breads to sandwiches that I will definitely need to go back. I may wait until it gets a little warmer though! I could do without the biting wind off the water.

Whether you are doing girls night out or date night – this place is perfect!

 

5 beans