The Salem jail, built in 1813, was the home of countless criminals for more than a century; today, it's the home of The Great Escape Restaurant. "Gone are the days of just bread and water…now the meals here are big portions of pasta, seafood, and steak," according to a video by Phantom Gourmet. While previously alcohol was only available when it was smuggled in, today the Great Escape's bartenders mix up prison-themed cocktails like the Orange Jumpsuit and The Commuted Sentence. In addition, complimentary valet service seamlessly escorts guests to the dinner table.
Under high ceilings, black chandeliers illuminate a bar made from recycled cell doors, the jail's original thick granite floor, and cell bars that surround black leather booths. Exposed brick walls are decorated with pop art with cheeky sayings such as "If you can't do the time don't do the crime," though today's guests are more focused on fried calamari than rehabilitation.
Sixty2 on Wharf is owned by Tony Bettencourt, the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts–trained former chef of the acclaimed Tomasso Trattoria in Southborough. Since opening in 2008, Sixty2 has seduced Salem stomachs with contemporary re-inventions of Italian classics. Bettencourt's meals use local and fresh ingredients shipped to the restaurant via seahorse-drawn gondola. The antipasti platter ($22) allows the chef to drop some knowledge on your plate, as he fills the plate with whichever antipasti options he deems best for the climate and current astrological alignment. Pasta dishes include the potato-filled cappellacci ($24 for full size) and the ribbon-like tagliatelle with a traditional meat-based Bolognese sauce ($26 for full size), while an assortment of entrees ($22–$30) include duck, lamb, chicken, and sea scallops seasoned and spiced to flavorful magnificence. The warm toffee-pudding dessert is a sweet salvo guaranteed to lob a taste grenade at any lingering post-entree hunger.
Not every pizza place has a mascot, much less one who’s a pug from outer space. But Flying Saucer Pizza Company insists Charlie the Space Pug is truly from beyond our planet. He promotes delicious pizza through Flying Saucer’s array of gourmet pies, all crafted from dough that is made in house every day. Each ball of dough is hand stretched before it is topped with a variety of fresh, locally grown ingredients, such as arugula, ghost-pepper salami, and goat cheese. A variety of vegan and gluten-free pizzas ensure that just about anyone can chow down while enjoying a slew of available draft beers made in New England. The eatery’s fun-loving staff and owners can often be found making pizza and taking orders amid the interior’s space-themed murals or delivering pizza and proving gravity wrong on Flying Saucer’s custom spaceship-design bicycle.
Growing up in a village outside of Palermo, Italy, owner and head chef Vito Santangelo heard the word "gioia," Italian for "joy," whenever one of his aunts or uncles pinched his cheeks, according to a 2006 feature in The Boston Globe. In addition to inspiring his restaurant's name, such memories of family and community inspired his menu's dedication to comforting, homestyle Italian food. The chefs blanch handmade pastas, bake their own breads, and painstakingly roll meatballs into perfect replicas of Earth's secret moon.
In the restaurant's two dining rooms, leafy plants and vines adorn the Tuscan-yellow and burnt-sienna walls while gentle candlelight on each table encourages diners to recreate scenes from The Aeneid with shadow puppets.