Fresh from his homeland of Brazil, Chef Rodney Moreira set himself on a path to become a master of Italian cuisine, beginning humbly as a prep cook at Pizzeria Uno. Ultimately, Moreira found his culinary muse, cooking his way up the ladder to his current position as head chef at Porcini's Italian Restaurant, where he holds numerous awards for his pasta and risotto. Building a menu off of these staples, Moreira crafts Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine finished with homemade sauces and fresh herbs. The restaurant's nightly specials and permanent entrees include grilled swordfish steak and pounded veal cutlets, and pair easily with varietals from around the world represented on the carefully curated wine list. The intimate dining room features the warming tendrils of a crackling fireplace, and the garden patio invites guests to indulge in meals under a sky filled with more stars than the sun's rolodex.
It’s not what you think. The name, that is. Strip-T’s was named in accordance with owner Paul Maslow’s original vision—an eatery centered around sirloin strip sandwiches. But the price of sirloin strip skyrocketed sometime after the restaurant’s 1986 opening, and the rising prices clashed with Paul’s desire to keep things tasty yet affordable. And so, he dropped the sandwich, kept the name (new signs can be pricey), and expanded the menu to include the American-style comfort foods that influenced one Boston Magazine critic to hail it as “the most unexpectedly dazzling food I’ve had in years.” Chalk up some of that praise—which has also come in from the Boston Globe and Bon Appetit, to Paul’s son Tim, a culinary student and transplant of David Chang’s New York hot spot Momofuku Ssam Bar. Tim gave Strip-T’s menu a second makeover, veering even further from the namesake dish with new items such as grilled bavette steak and sweet potato and pork belly angolotti. Tim’s creations have turned this unassuming Watertown eatery into a bona fide foodie destination, yet the restaurant still retains its original charm: the t-shirt wearing waiters are still friendly (except on customer-abuse Fridays), and press outlets, including The Boston Globe, are still raving about the “extraordinary, reasonably priced fare.”
Throughout the past millennia, the Iranian city of Shiraz has been celebrated for its nightingales, its poets and philosophers, and its wine, with the oldest known wine discovered just outside the city. Shiraz Cuisine seeks to capture this heritage of refinement amid its ambient-lit dining area, replete with vibrant paintings depicting grapes and Persian cuisine. To complement the bounty of traditional kebab and soltani plates, belly dancers swivel their hips inside the premises on Thursday night. On Friday, musicians strum guitars in time with the most rhythmic chewer in the restaurant.
The intermingling aromas of ginger, coconut, lemongrass, chilies, and basil is pretty typical of most Asian eateries. But Grasshopper Restaurant isn’t like most Asian eateries. Rather than stick with one regional specialty, it borrows recipes and flavors from Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisines. The chefs also distinguish their menu by avoiding any meat, opting for stir-fried seitan and tofu as protein-packed alternatives. However, the Zagat-rated restaurant mostly relies on fragrant herbs, piquant seasonings, and fresh vegetables to concoct its animal-friendly, plant-hostile versions of classic dishes such as beef lo mein, barbecued pork, and steak with spicy black bean sauce.
The Shanghai Social Club fashioned to conjure a classic 1920s speakeasy, but with a twist?in addition to bootleg whiskey and old-fashioneds, you can order fishbowl-sized drinks, which come filled with rum, honey, and exotic fruit juices. It's just one of the ways this stylish Asian restaurant melds old-fashioned sophistication with a carefree, tiki-bar vibe, an atmosphere that helped Zagat named it one of the hottest restaurants in Boston.
The restaurant's menu draws inspiration from traditional dinner entrees and streetside vendors in Shanghai. Bite into a steamed bun filled with gingery pork belly or crispy chicken skin, or dig into steaming noodles topped with Peking duck. Specialty dishes range from savory Mongolian beef to sweet honey shrimp. Meanwhile, the low-key decor?low lights, Buddhist statues, and colorful cushions?does little to distract from the cuisine.
For more than 15 years, Dragon Star has lit up the Chinese food scene in Brookline. The staff has built an extensive menu with more than 160 selections, including chop suey, eggplant with oyster sauce, beef in black-bean sauce, and a quintet of egg foo youngs. But starring among their many traditional dishes are Dragon Star’s specialties. Slices of duck served Mandarin-style are sautéed with pea pods, water chesnuts, and bamboo, and the flavors in the Happy Family dish—jumbo shrimp, chicken, scallops, beef, and pork—work together so harmoniously they often burst into renditions of “The Brady Bunch.” Regardless of the lunch or dinner entrée chosen, guests can rest assured that the staff has prepared it as healthily as possible: they use fresh and natural ingredients and constantly seek out new cooking methods to get the most from their nutritional content.