Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stella

(1525 Washington St., Boston - South End)

I think the hardest part about starting this blog is that I've eaten out at hundreds of restaurants around the city. Well, maybe not hundreds. But I bet close to a hundred. And so where do you start? Do I go back and review places I've already been to? I think I just need to start fresh, review places I've just been, and go from there. Having said that, I need to tell you about Stella. I think it may be my favorite restaurant in the city. It's not the cheapest, it's not necessarily the most fun, but it has the best food I think I've ever had. And I'm talking every time. I always leave thinking to myself that was the best dish I've ever had. It's crazy. I've recommended it to lots of friends and they all call me afterwards to thank me. Actually, they usually text me, but let's not nitpick.

Besides the food, which I'll get to in a minute, Stella has a couple other things going for it (one of which is NOT its location - they try to be all swanky by saying it's a SoWa restaurant - South of Washington for you non-hipsters - but that's basically just code for "in a sketchy area"). Their kitchen is open late, I think until 1:30, and their brunch is amazing - which means either their chef doesn't sleep or they've got a couple really good ones. It's also just south of the pretentious line. I think they're a couple imported Prussian boisenberries away from being stuffy, but like an Olympic gymnast, they straddle that line well. Then again, they call drinks on their menu "libations" so ignore everything I just said.

Another interesting aside, when you Google Stella, this restaurant is the first listing. Of course, for whatever that's worth, the second listing is for a Multi-Platform Atari 2600 VCS Emulator, so...


The crowd at Stella is pretty mixed too. You've got young couples, old couples, straight couples, gay couples, rich couples, not-as-rich-but-still-pretty-rich couples, and cougars. So it's the perfect mix.

As for the food - I'm just going to come straight out and say it. There are two things on their menu that you have to try, but they don't really go together. So if you're there with someone else, I recommend each getting one and sharing. Otherwise, you'll have to come back. OK, you ready? Wait for it...Wait for it...swordfish and tagliatelle bolognese! (note: if you pronounced the "g" in your head while you read that last word than this restaurant isn't for you)

I know, swordfish and meat sauce? I told you, they don't go together. But totally separately, they're the best of those dishes I've ever had. The swordfish isn't at all fishy tasting. It cuts like chicken and tastes almost like a pork. I can't describe it. Well, I guess I just did, but it's one of those things you have to taste for yourself. And it's served with capers, asparagus and these roasted potatoes that you'd only find in potato porno if such a thing existed (don't Google that - trust me, it's gonna ruin your mind for a while).

As for the tagliatelle, I don't know what to tell you. It's just friggin' awesome. In a city known for its Italian food, this dish is the Roberto Benigni of pasta. And you can quote me on that. Seriously, please quote me. I'll take all the publicity I can get. But really this dish is just a flavor explosion of perfectly made sauce, freshly grated parmesan cheese, hand-made tagliatelle pasta and glorious, glorious meat. And I'm not talking just beef. They put veal and pork and who knows what else in it. It's really amazing.

And speaking of amazing, try their Parmesan Arancini. They're perfectly crisped cheesy rice balls in that amazing marinara sauce. Just thinking about it right now is making me starving, and I just ate. That's how good it is. Either that or I have a tapeworm.

And on top of all of this, they also do a killer brunch. I highly recommend their frittata with sweet corn and chorizo, served with home fries. It's better than almost anything I've ever had at a diner and it's under $10. Top it off with a Bloody Mary and you're money. Speaking of Bloody Mary's, I should really do a review of the best Bloodies around the city. Someone remind me about that later. But now I've blogged myself into a mental food coma so I must bid you adieu. Ciao for now.

Cafeteria

(279a Newbury St., Boston)

I went for dinner last night to Cafeteria on Newbury
for what's probably now like the 10th time . If you know anything about me, which I know you don't (yet), you know this is my kind of place. Great comfort food menu, very inexpensive (especially for Newbury), but you really get the feeling you're going out all fancy like because, well, it's on Newbury Street. Also, in the summertime it's one of the best people watching places in the city - tons of outdoor space so you're not all crammed in like at a lot restaurants in the city. Of course, despite the heat lamps, it was a little too chilly to sit outside last night.



I'd say the one drawback of this place is it's a little TOO themey. I mean, we get it. It's supposed to be cafeteria-style food. Specials are pinned to a cork board, their slogan is "Tray Chic" - stick to the food because it's REALLY good. Plus, I've never been to a cafeteria before that serves martinis and salmon (not necessarily at the same time, though I've done it - don't judge me).

Their apps are pretty killer. I recommend the fish tacos. It's got a good cut of cod in it, pickled cabbage, salsa verde. Good stuff. Nix that. GREAT stuff. If you like beets, they do a beet salad that'll actually make you sick of beats - in a good way. The lamb, beef, and/or tuna sliders are awesome too. But seriously, the burgers, pizzas and sandwiches are so cheap just get those and don't bust yourself on the apps. Hey, I actually kind of like that line. I might use that as my new tagline. "Hey, this is Angus from Eat It, Boston saying - don't bust yourself on the apps."

For the main meal, I think I've tried almost everything there. My wife always gets grilled cheese and tomato soup. Always. It's actually kind of annoying. But she raves about it so it's gotta be pretty good. The meatloaf kicks ass. I know most food bloggers out there would state that more elegantly, but I'm not like most food bloggers. They might tell you that the meatloaf is made from all natural grass fed beef generously smothered in a tangy-to-spicy ketchup glaze and served next to a beautifully cupped mound of mouth-watering mashed potatoes. But not me. I just tell you it kicks ass. You know why? Because it does. Try it yourself. It's not the best meatloaf I've ever had, but for Newbury Street meatloaf, it kicks ass.

And while I'm on the topic of ass kicking food, do yourself a favor and get the chicken milanese. It's basically just a big honkin' cutlet of fried chicken with greens and shaved parmesan but it's awesome and it'll fill you up. It's simple. It's good. The Mac and Cheese I hear is great too but I've never had it so I can't vouch for it.

This is all great cold weather food - but for the summertime you need something a little more like their tuna burger which I had last night. It's got the pickled cabbage, spicy mayo, avocado on a griddled bun. Dee. Lish.

Seriously, I don't want to get too foody on you and break down the whole menu, because I could. If this place were in Newton, I'd probably say it's just "eh." But it's on Newbury Street and it's not pretentious so it's great. My only gripe is their lack of beer on tap. They had Magic Hat seasonal on draft last night which was really good but that was it.

Oh, and they make cookies fresh every day for dessert. Now I know this is going to sound crazy from a guy with a food blog, but I don't really like sweets. So most of my opinion on dessert comes from my wife, and she says it's pretty good. But she's pregnant so pretty much anything tastes good to her.

Oh, and one last thing ... if you go there and they aren't seating outside, try to get a table upstairs. It's got a great view and the first floor sort of feels like you're eating in someone's basement.

And for those of you looking for a good date place, this is definitely it. Again, impress your chick or your dude with going out to a nice Newbury Street restaurant and it won't cost you too much. Plus, they're on Restaurant.com so you can find great deals to eat there.

So until next time, this is Angus saying: don't bust yourself on the apps.

Welcome!

Welcome to the first ever blog entry for Eat It, Boston! It's so great to see all of you. Thanks so much for your support. OK, I realize now that just sounds ridiculous. I obviously can't see you. Also, there's probably nobody reading this seeing as we have no content and haven't spent a dime on promoting this thing. So I should probably just get right to it. Eat It, Boston is the red-headed stepchild of the popular South Florida food blog Eat It, Miami (please note: if you have red hair and/or are a stepchild, please do not take offense to the aforementioned statement - it's just an expression). But I digress...

Eat It, Boston is meant to be a fun, irreverent, totally informal and unpaid review of some of the many great and not-so great meals, restaurants and food trends in and around this wicked awesome city. I am NOT a food critic. I don't get paid to write this and I don't receive any food for free, though I would very much like both. The point is, I'm just a regular guy from Boston who loves eating food and writing. I love to cook but I'm horrible at it. Plus, my wife is a vegetarian and I love meat, so we compromise by eating out a lot. And I hope in some small way whoever reading this will learn a little, laugh a little, and hopefully maybe even cry. Either way, if you've made it this far then I guess whatever I'm doing is working. So I'll shut my cake hole and get on to the "reviews." Thanks in advance for your support!

By the way, my real name isn't really Angus. I just thought it was a funny pen name because it's the same name as a cut of beef (it's a food blog, get it?) and because I love AC/DC. I just felt like you should know that up front so you don't think I'm lying to you. I would never do that. Trust me, I'm a first-time food blogger.