Pizza crusts at Lamole Restaurant bake inside the restaurant's blazing ovens, turning crispy under a bubbling layer of pepperoni, grilled salmon, or other custom toppings. Along with the pies, cooks build hearty pasta plates and craft gourmet sub sandwiches, such as the Harvard with roast beef, coleslaw, and swiss cheese. They personalize sandwiches with extra touches such as italian sausage, artichoke hearts, or custom embroidery.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
No, he wasn't born in Sicily. In fact—according to a 2011 article in the Boston Globe—Doug Ferriman started out in the pizza business without even knowing how to make dough. But he learned fast, besting 120 competitors and two Italian chefs to take second place at the International Pizza Challenge later that year. Ferriman is also one of only two people to have won the International Pizza Expo's Pizza of the Year honor more than once, in 2004 and 2007, according to trade magazine Pizza Today. Finally, in the 2013 competition, Ferriman won first in the non-traditional category in the northeast region.
Today, Ferriman brings his dough tossing know-how to Crazy Dough's Pizza, which he co-owns with his wife, Melissa. Their labor-of-love-turned-small-business-success-story, which has been documented in media outlets such as the Boston Business Journal, can be explained by their commitment to quality ingredients and diverse recipes. Their chefs start with a solid pizza foundation of North Dakota flour, vine-ripened California plum tomatoes, and Wisconsin cheese. Next, they transform raw dough into three pizza types: pan-baked, rectangular sicilian pies; hearty brick-oven rounds; or their specialty fire-grilled pizzas, cooked to a crispy, smoky finish on an open-flame hickory grill.
Finally, guests can choose from a huge selection of off-the-wall toppings and signature combinations, such as cheeseburger bacon or potato bacon cheddar. The shops also attract guests with $5 Pabst Blue Ribbon pitchers, calzones, and Crazy Dough Bowls—salads whose bread-bowl exterior can be eaten or worn as a savory hat.
According to founder Adam, Veggie Galaxy was born out of the quest to define the true spirit of the American diner. His fixation on the venue type began in childhood, as he whiled away hours sitting atop cushy bar stools and hugging vintage jukeboxes. Later in life, Adam became a vegetarian and soon noted the lack of meat-free options on diner menus. He knew that though sizzling bacon is often present at a successful diner, it is not integral to its essence. So, he built his own vegetarian- and vegan-friendly space that adhered to the guiding principle of all great eateries: corralling groups in and feeding them well.
In regards to the latter goal, Veggie Galaxy's vegetarianism is "an afterthought" to head chef Brian. Though every dish on the diner's menu remains herbivorous—and in the case of several plates, gluten-free and vegan—the kitchen's top concerns are taste and in-house prep. The restaurant demands everything, from the ketchup to the burger buns, be made on-site and from scratch, a standard which won them a DigBoston's Dig This Award for vegetarian and vegan food in 2011. As for the patties that go inside the housemade buns, they mold them from black beans and a mushroom-chickpea mix instead of beef, just as tempeh supplants bacon and seitan replaces steak. The all-vegan bakery abides by the same system. Taza's vegan, organic stoneground chocolate goes into savory cookies, and house-toasted coconut decorates layer cakes.
Since its founding in 2001, The Upper Crust Pizzeria has fashioned artful thin-crust pizzas in 19 storefronts with modern, architectural touches. Chefs craft specialty pies inspired by local landmarks, from the sundried-tomato cobblestones of the Beacon Hill to the pesto-painted walls of the Green Monster. Diners can opt to spread sweet sauce over a regular or whole-wheat crust or request that any pie be served white without sauce, and combine slices with crisp salads or pounce on the geometric goodness of a spinach square or half moon-shaped calzone. Restaurant interiors are accoutered with modern flourishes such as flat-screen TVs and pan-decorated ceilings, allowing one to lie down and admire their reflection before a postmeal nap.
Harvest: User's Guide
Modern New England Cuisine | Date-Night Romance | Nationally Praised
Where to sit: The secluded garden patio is so idyllic it “provokes daydreams,” according to Boston magazine.
While You’re Waiting: Count the number of famous chefs Harvest has nurtured over the last four decades: Lydia Shire, Chris Schlesinger, Barbara Lynch, and Frank McClelland, to name a few.
Inside Tips: Be sure to save room for what the Improper Bostonian deemed the city's best desserts. They're dreamt up by Brian Mercury, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Pastry Chefs of 2013.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Lose yourself in Harvard Book Store’s (1256 Massachusetts Avenue) smartly curated selection—you might even witness a reading from a literary celeb.
After: Tuck in for a concert at Club Passim (47 Palmer Street); on any given night, the nonprofit venue is a grab bag of Americana, singer-songwriters, and world music.
If You Can’t Make It, Try: Grill 23 & Bar (161 Berkeley Street) or Post 390 (406 Stuart Street), both high-end Boston eateries managed by Harvest’s operator: Himmel Hospitality Group.