Executive chef Ilias Kakouris, a former apprentice of celebrity chef Nicholas Peter Valhouli, pushes up the sleeves of his white uniform as he leads his crew of chefs who roast baby eggplant, grill pizzas in the brick oven, and pan-sear scallops. Kakouris not only oversees the kitchen, but also co-owns Brutole Restaurant with Nick Kakouris, with whom he works to curate a menu of Mediterranean and American flavors. Near the warm glow of the brick oven, cooks pile pizza dough with caramelized onions, figs, and julienned pear while others top grilled beef tenderloin with a red-wine reduction.
The dark-wood-trimmed interior creates a romantic setting in which votive candles flicker atop white tablecloths and the silverware hums Tom Jones's greatest hits. A full bar draws in swarms of entranced patrons with its backlit glass shelves, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and signature martinis.
A look of resigned beatification crosses the faces of fresh kiwis, mangos, bananas, and papayas as they knowingly march into whirring blenders to join Maui Wowi Hawaiian's homemade, nonfat yogurt. With no artificial flavors, unnatural colors, or fake accents, the smoothies—most of which harbor less than 250 calories in their 12-ounce incarnation—infuse guests with two servings of fruit and a bevy of vitamins in flavors that range from the tart kiwi lemon lime to the dulcet black raspberry. For caffeinated pick-me-ups, baristas brew kona coffee and mix up specialty drinks, starting with a blend of arabica and kona espresso.
For native Greeks, each bite of moussaka at Ithaki Mediterranean Cuisine is like a warm, delicious hug. Owner Petros Markopoulos and his team individually bake each serving, layering together beef, eggplant, zucchini, and spices, and topping it all in a delectable béchamel sauce. That cooked-to-order dish is just one of the ways Petros reminds his fellow Greeks of home—while also introducing nonnatives to the flavors and comforts of Mediterranean cuisine. In a 2005 review, The Boston Globe happily noted that Petros "doesn't veer when it comes to the classics," though some of the menu goes beyond the Mediterranean, such as the fried Cape Ann haddock sandwich.
In 2010, a 15-week renovation brought even more comforts to the restaurant. Petros expanded the building, adding colorful accents such as oil paintings, comfy couches, and a full bar, where diners can nibble gyros while watching a game or listening to occasional live music. He also expanded the menu to include a selection of small plates and a raw bar.
Maple Street Tavern's events list is so extensive that you might mistake it for the menu. There's something to do almost every night—whether it's challenging your coworkers to a game of trivia or stepping up to the open mic to test your music or comedy chops. And the space is surrounded by flat-screen TVs, so you can watch as your favorite football team rallies to victory with an unexpected home run.
The kitchen constantly updates their menu to include new—and sometimes themed or seasonal—dishes. Its current incarnation features classic grilled burgers and buttermilk-marinated chicken tenders. Other entrees range from seared duck breast in red wine sauce to slow-roasted pot roast.
Named a Hidden Jewel by Phantom Gourmet, The Farm Bar & Grille's rustic wood furniture and floors and exposed brick walls inform the eatery's comforting vibe. To craft a menu of comforting southern-style fare, the kitchen team doesn't skimp by pulling ingredients from the freezer. Instead, they put together entrees from all-fresh components, including some of the vegetables they grow themselves in the on-site garden and the 90-acre cornfield they fit in their endless broom closet. As baby-back ribs bask in the smoke from a hardwood fire, the kitchen crew bastes them every half hour, in between searing burgers made from fresh angus chuck. Starters such as fresh beer-battered jalapeno poppers are made to order. The staff also pours a large selection of draft beers and specialty cocktails.
At 15 Walnut, the culinary team handcrafts gourmet dishes, from maple-barbecued steak tips to margherita pizza with walnut pesto. But you'd never guess it if you looked at the ultra-simple basics local farmers deliver to the kitchen.
The bistro's chefs take these simple ingredients and then craft their own sausages, bake their own breads, dry their own herbs, create their own chutneys, and make their own mozzarellas. And all of this is done in small batches that adhere to a strict farm-to-table philosophy.
The resulting upscale comfort food sates appetites at brunches, lunches, and dinners, which patrons can finish off with handmade desserts that are even more appealing than Oreos in an artisanal basket.