Chefs at Chaloos Restaurant lace dishes with the traditional flavors of Old Persia and the modern zest of the Mediterranean. Chefs stoke a charcoal fire to sear USDA-choice beef chicken, lamb, and cornish hen, which then fill kebab plates and pita wraps. They also crisp balls of falafel and toss five vegetable-packed salads. A wood-fired oven grills pizzas to a golden crisp in honor of the world’s first pizza, which Alexander the Great carved out of actual gold.
A hodgepodge of truffles, caramels, fudges, and ice cream treats greets confectionary cravers and ice cream screamers at Hilliards House of Candy. Peruse fine chocolates as soft as hazelnut figaro ($11.75 for 8 oz.) or as hard as peanut-and-caramel jazz squares ($11.75 for 8 oz.). The buttery cashew brittle ($9.50 for 8 oz.) gives teeth a challenge, and the Grand Marnier truffle ($2.20) intrigues the taste buds with orange liquor flavor and chocolate ganache. Hilliard's serves its ice cream cones, sundaes, and frappes until October 31, but after that you can still pick up a pint ($5.95) or a quart ($8.95) to take home or bring to a lonely mailman.
Named for chef Mario Sanfilippo's native Italian town, Porticello Ristorante showcases authentic Italian dishes prepared from traditional recipes. Couples share appetizers such as cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto di parma, a bite that is both sweet and salty like a lollipop's tears. Entrees include the mozzarella-topped veal saltimbocca with mushrooms and sage and the grilled swordfish with hints of lemon, basil, and garlic. Among pastas, gnocchi sorrentino incorporates fresh tomatoes and marinara, and pasta norma dresses penne with fresh basil, plum tomatoes, and caper cufflinks. For dessert, chantilly cream softens flaky pastry dough and diffuses the tart zing of wild berries to create frutti di bosco. Alternatively, spumoni layers cherry, pistachio, and chocolate ice cream to commemorate the flavors of the Italian flag.
Thanks to a $50 loan from his grandfather, Chef James Messinger was able to promote his small catering business in the local classifieds, kicking off the career he dreamt about as a student at the Culinary Institute of America. The unlikely success from this small ad helped The Crazy Chefs Caterers to flourish and allowed Messinger to finance a long-desired wine-tasting odyssey through Spain, where the local cuisine quickly captivated both his tongue and imagination. Upon arrival back home, he established Loco Tapas & Wine Bar with his wife, brandishing fresh, quality ingredients from local farms to construct traditional tapas influenced by Spain's Catalonia, Basque, and La Rioja regions. The highly praised seasonal menus flaunt a rotating arsenal of small plates and elegant entrees, including a saffron-rice paella with chicken, chorizo, and mussels that the Boston Globe declared as one of "40 fantastic dishes" in the Boston area.
Hovering above Loco Tapas & Wine Bar's fully stocked bar, a chalkboard announces a handwritten roster of Spanish wines by the glass. Elsewhere in the dining area, dangling chandeliers and flickering candles set the stage for shadow-puppet tours de force upon rich crimson walls. Striking black accents, tablecloths, and furniture punctuate the sleek color scheme.
The cooks at Piccadilly Pub Restaurant bake, fry, grill, and assemble a medley of sandwiches, seafood platters, and other comfort cuisine. Haddock fillets take a dip in a light beer batter before trans-fat-free oil cooks them to a golden crisp, and fries and coleslaw cuddle up beside them in a dish of fish 'n' chips ($11.69). A dozen seafood platters harvest additional ocean occupants, including lobster, salmon, shrimp, and mermaid-grown sea vegetables. Baked bowls of shepherd's pie ($9.59) and chicken pot pie ($8.99) release a flood of steam after knives and forks cut into the blistering combination of seasoned meat and vegetables. A different house-made soup holds court daily ($3.50–$4.50), and the soothing staples of Piccadilly clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl ($7.99) and lobster bisque ($4.59–$7.99), taking their middle-school yearbook inscriptions to heart, never change.
From their outpost near the academic halls of the University of Connecticut, the chefs at Sgt. Pepperoni spin hand-tossed pizzas in the style of New York’s great pizzerias. Friends split a 16-inch cheese pizza, baked on handmade dough and blanketed with mozzarella cheese and house-made sauce. Divvy up eight breadsticks splashed with savory sauce from a cup of marinara sauce, or use them as swords to duel for the last slice of pizza. Sgt. Pepperoni’s sentries stay on watch for rumbling stomachs until at least 2 a.m. every night, quenching appetites brought on by late-night study sessions or hunger strikes in protest of Daylight Savings Time.