Named Best Bowling by Boston magazine in 2010, Kings' fun centers boast a lively atmosphere for all ages. Both locations host ample bowling ($4.50–$6.50 per game) real estate—20 lanes at Dedham and 16 at Back Bay—and dozens of HDTVs. Back Bay features a full billiards room with Brunswick Gold Crown tables ($14 per hour), while Dedham provides miniature skee bowling ($5 per game) and regulation shuffleboard ($10 per hour), so shuffleboard fanatics can relive their favorite professional shuffleboard moments. With thousands of square feet of fun at each spot, recreational hustlers and mingle-minded masses alike can score bowling points, billiard touchdowns, or shuffleboard coup-fourrés.
Isabella Restaurant is situated next to a movie theater, so perhaps that’s why its cuisine is so visually captivating. Under the guidance of executive chef John Mahoney, the eatery offers up succulent Atlantic salmon tossed in whole-wheat pasta and spicy hong kong noodles, served with wok-fried veggies and peanuts plus a choice of chicken, steak, or shrimp. Hardwood flooring bespeaks a muted elegance and pea-green walls help vegetables to feel relaxed.
The culinary wizards at Cristelle’s Restaurant use homemade recipes to conjure up entrees from scratch for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Middle Eastern menus. Fuel up for long days of repurposing cubicles into pentacles with morning eats such as the hearty Irish–style breakfast featuring a pair of eggs cooked any style, bangers, bacon, and home fries ($7.50). Or sidestep pasta for the alfredo-chicken-broccoli pizza ($12.29 for a small, $16.79 for a large). Chefs hand-make falafel and forge it into a wrap ($5.79), and a triple-decker cheeseburger club sandwich ($7.99) features three stories of Black Angus beef and a small balcony where a sheltered princess reads forbidden books about mixing condiments. Meanwhile, sides of hummus and salad accompany Middle Eastern dishes such as the lamb shish kebab, which lances hunger with two skewers filled with cubed lamb, onion, and pepper.
Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.
Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.
As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. Though the game-room amenities differ slightly based on the town—Boston's Back Bay has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, and Dedham boasts four miniature-roller-ball lanes—each Kings location hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.
Within the recently renovated confines, sunlight streams from large windows in the dining room, bouncing off the dark wooden tables as well as the frameless cityscapes that adorn the walls. Exposed-brick walls, romantic lighting, and a sleek wooden bar further augment the casually elegant space. Diners can indulge in hearty New England comfort food, such as pumpkin ravioli and Nantucket risotto, from their chosen spot, whether it be a booth, a barstool, or the chef’s lap.