Inspired by her passion for creating decadent treats for her friends and family, baker Gloria Castaño opened Sweet Creations by Gloria as a way to share her signature desserts with others. From these modest beginnings, her bakery has risen in popularity and earned local renown for its made-from-scratch cakes and pastries. Though Gloria’s specialty lies in traditional Hispanic confections, she can just as easily recreate recipes from other cultures or accommodate dietary restrictions with vegan and gluten-free ingredients. A frequent shopper at the local farmers' market, Gloria fills her customizable cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops with fresh fruit whenever possible and slathers buttercream icing on bland stalks of broccoli.
Settled on the pastoral landscape of the Mohawk Trail, The Harley House Inn welcomes travelers with servings of familiar home-cooked fare, catered celebrations and weddings, or weekend getaways spent in lodgings styled after a country home. Guests dine on dishes culled from seasonal menus in the rustic confines of the intimate, 20-seat tavern, or sup among the rough-hewn wood-plank walls of the charming, folksy barn. Boarders laze in the shade of the gazebo, or amble through the private, wood-fenced garden lined with perennials like every American president's Mardi Gras tuxedo. Winter finds lodgers enjoying a library of CDs and movies, card games, or a drink before a roaring fireplace, while spring and summer see visitors strolling through the bordering parklands or sweeping trails of bread crumbs in nearby forests.
Founded in 2005, Ixtapa Mexican Grill and Cantina rode a wave of authentic mole sauce and frosty margarita mix and expanded from one location to four. They treasure the same family recipes in each kitchen, be it the mild green tomatillo sauce sauteed with traditional pork Chili Verde or the signature fish tacos with mango. The décor and specials, on the other hand, varies from joint to joint, with the Lunenburg location boasting stucco-like walls with red accents and a taco bar during NFL games.
Al Dente's cooks pay homage to both Italy's Old-World dinner traditions and America's love of quick afternoon lunches. They make their own sausage, meatballs, and pizza dough in house, injecting authenticity into daily lunch specials that pair pizza slices and sandwiches with chips and soda. They prepare more robust entrees for dinner, including pastas and dishes featuring veal and chicken. For seafood, they embrace a variety of preparation methods, crisping up ocean-born delicacies in the fryer, sautéing them over noodles, or stirring them into bowls of stew. With the free WiFi, diners can stay up-to-date on the news and the latest styles in marinara stains.
Ellen Fay spent nearly 20 years of experience as a professional baker before opening her small shop. Now at Aunty Ellen’s Creative Confections, she prepares fresh cookies, brownies, and cannoli every day. Her specialty treat is carrot cake stuffed with bits of carrot, pineapple, coconut, and a secret ingredient that’s written on the recipe card in invisible ink. Ellen recently told the Leominster Champion, “I want everyone to try my carrot cake…I want to retire on my carrot cake.”
Her bright pink and green bakery is inspired by Bermuda, a place she visited often as a child. Inside, a small seating area surrounds chilled display cases stocked with colorful cookies and cupcakes.
Comeketo Restaurant & Sandwich Shop's lengthy menu quells meat lovers' pangs with savory Brazilian and Uruguayan cuts and substantial vegetarian dishes made with fresh produce. Diners can warm-up human food processers with an appetizer, such as the slices of tender sirloin found in bife a palito ($7.99), or tuck into the costelinha de porco frita com mandioca ($7.99), which consists of fried pork ribs tickled with brazilian spices. A list of elaborate burgers includes the Elephant ($5.99), which, like a real elephant, is actually just a stack of chicken, pork, steak, and sausage accented with bacon and egg. The chorizo al pan's ($7.75) seasoned sausage introduces taste buds to Uruguayan tastes, and grilled Amazon Rainforest medallions ($7.99) stockpile once-popular currency denominations such as breaded eggplant, asparagus, red peppers, and rice. Comeketo rounds out its hefty menu with exotic fruit smoothies and salads as well as American appetizers, pasta, subs, and wraps.