Parents: here's what happens your first time dining at Full Moon. Walk in and you might spot the jubilant scrum of toddlers in the play area, one child fiddling with a toy train, another manning a replica kitchen or doodling away on poster board. How nice, you think to yourself with more than a trace of suspicion. But something’s amiss. And then it hits you: there’s no stench of fast food here, likewise no gaudy décor or costumed mascots. Instead, the aroma of lemongrass and coconut seafood stew or Moroccan chicken tagine consumes the art-filled dining room. A child guzzles juice from a sippy cup; beside him, his parents clink glasses of fine wine. In one ear you hear the laughter of children; in the other, the easy conversation of adults. Your inner skeptic struggles to resist, like Mary Poppins in a windstorm. Then the waiter delivers an adult-sized portion of pan-roasted salmon or a spread of mussels and Portuguese chorizo. And beside that—a child-sized plate of mac and cheese flanked by a side of fresh fruit. And slowly, your doubts fade away. And you think to yourself: Maybe it’s time to fire the babysitter. Welcome to Full Moon. In 1997 sisters Sarah and Cary Wheaton, both mothers to young children, set out to create an upscale alternative to the traditional family restaurant—a place where child and parent could enjoy quality food (and time) together in a tasteful setting. It seems they succeeded. As the Boston Globe remarked in a piece about the restaurant's 15th anniversary, despite all the toys, “It’s not just the children who are in heaven.” Indeed, parents relish the ability to dine on crab ravioli with chive cream sauce or grilled sirloin filets smothered in blue cheese, all with their children just an arm’s-length away. Their kids seem equally overjoyed. Kid-friendly entrees, such as quesadillas and chicken fingers, are made with seasonal ingredients and come with a side of fresh fruit. At the behest of the owners—all too familiar with children’s temperaments—chefs kick out the kid food quickly so the kids don’t get cranky and fill up on their own tears.
Big Daddy's serves up an expansive menu of American and Italian favorites, including pizzas, subs, chicken wings, and pastas, available for pickup or delivery. Specialty pizzas combine exotic or unexpected toppings, such as the scallion-and-peppercorn-steak pizza with parmesan sauce and the pesto-and-pine-nut pizza with caramelized onions and plum tomatoes. The cooks also assemble hearty subs that give a nod to Boston culture, such at the Fenway, a chicken-ranch BLT with housemade chipotle sauce on white or wheat bread, all of which work together to force mouths to open wide enough to catch a foul ball in.
Founded by longtime friends Jonathan Schwarz and Christopher Robbins, Stone Hearth Pizza builds its gourmet pies from organic, local, and sustainably produced ingredients. The casual pizzeria has expanded to six locations since opening in 2005?a pace of growth made possible by the popularity of chef and general manager Michael Ehlenfeldt?s Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas. New England craft beers complement the pizzas and pastas with a pleasantly bitter taste that reflects their conflicted attitude toward out-of-towners.
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.
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.
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.