Owned and operated by Easthampton residents Rich Lyman and Jeff Cahill, Riff's Joint spices up everyday meals with bombastic and spunky takes on traditional burgers, burritos, and salads. Carnivorous consumers can sink canines into a starter of hoisin-marinated beef sticks ($6.00), while voracious vegetarians can test their mettle against the sweet-potato fries, which are flanked by jalapeño honey-mustard sauce and cooked in pure kindness ($4). Build an edible tribute to tastiness with Riff's custom-creation station, where gastrological Gauguins can craft Thai-inspired burritos ($8.50) or dramatic Greek cheesesteaks ($8.50). Fans of dining predetermination can opt for house burgers and wraps, such as the Alamo Wrap made with in-house roasted turkey ($7) and The Bandit, an all-beef patty topped with grilled onion, cilantro, and chipotle mayo ($8). Like romantic picnics and amorous parole hearings, Riff's is BYOB, letting customers method-act the role of master sommelier.
In Captain Jack’s kitchen, the crew assembles a concise menu. With the fryer bubbling and the scent of salt and oil in the air, the cooks prepare fresh scallops, whole-belly clams, all-natural beef, free-range chicken, and hand-cut french fries. The menu appears selective because it is. They use only humanely treated animals from regional farms to make their house-made burgers and hot dogs, and all their veggies come from local purveyors who practice sustainable farming. In fact, everything at the roadside shack is so fresh that they don’t even own a freezer, which assures their ingredients are served in a timely fashion and that penguins never claim squatter’s rights.
The pie crafters at Red Rock Pizza elevate traditional everyman pizzas into artful, artisanal meals. After waiting for the yeast to rise in their house-made, high-gluten Spring Harvest flour dough, they top it with house-made sauce, mozzarella, hand-cut meats, and veggies that are never frozen or told that they couldn’t someday become president. They accent the sauce with freshly roasted garlic and simmered onions before depositing pies into a high-heat convection oven. This arduous process is well worth the finished product: signature specialty pizzas such as the Red Rock, which mingles fresh italian sausage, Arezzio pepperoni, and honey-baked ham with mushrooms, sweet red onion, green peppers, and their signature Red Rock marinara sauce. The same care goes into their other eats, which include wings, calzones, paninis, and pasta dishes available for dine-in, delivery, or catering.
Side Street Café brings the world of upscale American dining to the neighborhood level. Local ingredients are given diction lessons and gussied up into high society cuisine under the watchful eye of owner, chef, and pasta linguist Patrick Shannon. Diners may choose to shepherd home wayward taste buds with the baked goat cheese and honey ($9) or sample undersea edibles with the pan-seared scallops ($10). Hungrier humans can make a break for one of Side Street Café's signature entrees; the fresh herb gnocchi ($19 full, $14 for lighter fare) gets cozy with balsamic roasted shallots under blankets of mozzarella and marinara, while the lager-braised short ribs ($25/$18) raise a toast to good taste with horseradish mashed potatoes and parmesan bread.
Determined to introduce the public’s collective palate to creative Asian-inspired food, the cooks at Noodles prepare their namesake dish following both traditional Thai recipes and their own unique formulas. They craft a multitude of soups ranging from the classic udon noodle soup to the unconventional nava noodle soup, which combines seafood, minced chicken, fish balls, fish cake, and crushed peanuts in a spicy lime broth.
Customers shouldn’t let the name fool them, though—the culinary team has more than noodles and broths in their wheelhouse. They also prepare six meat-based rice bowls and 10 salads that combine ingredients such as steamed shrimp, mint, crushed peanut, and carrots. The chefs also have their own specialties, including shrimp and tofu curry and Duck in Red—roasted duck simmered in panang-curry sauce and topped with string beans, bell peppers, and herbs. This is not to be confused with Duck in White—a female duck on her wedding day.