When it comes to food, Tomasso Trattoria is a champion of the locavore and farm-to-table trends. The restaurant fuels its fresh Italian dishes with meat and produce culled almost exclusively from New England–area farms. The same, however, cannot be said for the wine. To enhance the feeling that its guests are dining on the Amalfi Coast or the banks of a Venetian canal, Tomasso maintains a wine cellar populated chiefly by Italian vintages representing every region of the country. Every bottle on the list is available for purchase at the adjacent partner shop, Panzano. In addition, wine director Shaun Snow teaches classes for foodies who want to learn about Italian wine customs without having to interview a Sicilian grapevine. The eatery’s menu changes weekly to adjust for seasonally available ingredients, but its commitment to quality never wavers. Chef Josh Brown and his staff make the pasta fresh daily, and gluten-free pasta is available on request. Guests can dine and drink in any of four spaces decorated in rich red and yellow hues, including a bar area lined with leather booths and a more rustic alcove with mottled walls.
Pizza Peddler and Deli's amiable dough-slingers spin out an extensive menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and other savory delectables. Sate cavernous appetites with a bevy of specialty tomato-pasted pies, including the greek pizza, a circular sensation doused in a pantheon of feta, olives, and spinach and carried to each table upon the back of a lightning bolt (small $10.49, large $14.99). The eatery's equally exotic Bella Italiana sandwich stacks prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil into a leaning tower of taste ($6.99). Those searching for a tongue-dazing meal can suck down a serving of slow-smoked baby back ribs ($9.99 for half, $17.99 for full), then swath taste buds in heaping scoops of gelato, available in an array of flavors, such as blackberry, chocolate, and victory (small $2.99, large $3.99).
Lunch boxes burst with authentic eats from Lola's Italian Groceria, where sandwich artisans sculpt imported ingredients and cold cuts into culinary masterpieces, including several gluten-free dishes. The sultry sizzle of the midday menu's eggplant parmesan sandwich, slathered with tomato sauce and provolone cheese ($6.25 for small, $8.25 for large), serenades diners into passionate acts of devouring. Meanwhile, a meaty triumvirate of mortadella, salami, and hot ham fight for final condiment authority over the italian sub, ablaze with a heap of hot peppers ($6 for small, $7.50 for large).
The Pizza Shop @ South Natick renders hunger powerless with colossal slices of New York–style pie on hand-stretched dough shellacked with homemade sauce. Crust-lusters can build their own scrumptious circles ($10.50 plus $1.49 per topping for a large) from a list of favorite and offbeat ingredients such as ricotta cheese and meatballs. They can also sample specialty pizzas ($10.30–$20.90) such as the Godfather, an olive-oiled saga starring sliced tomatoes, grilled chicken, artichoke, romano, mozzarella, and the chef's questionably-cast daughter. The Spinocolli forgoes sauce in favor of sliced tomato on olive oil and garlic, with a spinach, broccoli, and mozzarella quilt for warmth. The extensive menu pleases diverse appetites, with calzones ($9.20–$15.30) and subs ($6.25–$7.25) taking up plate residence beside burritos ($7.25) stuffed with pulled pork, steak tips, or chicken.
Though Bistro 20 Restaurant & Tavern's contemporary dining room can accommodate more than 175 guests, its staff keeps the restaurant casual in the bistro tradition. Dark wood panels and a red-and-brown color scheme dominate the cozy interior, where soft lighting plays on photographs and Italian paintings or spills out from a fireplace like syrup from a newly tapped syrup bottle. Inside the kitchen, chefs craft Italian and American meals using ingredients such as housemade pasta, farm-fresh produce, and Maine grass-fed beef. They plate chicken piccata, grilled mahi mahi, and grilled grass-fed beef tenderloin alongside fruits de mer, braised lamb shank, and grilled steaks, and customize pizzas with up to 23 eclectic toppings.
The first Sorentos Italian Gourmet opened in Boston in 1988. It quickly won over locals, whose insatiable hunger for the restaurant's gourmet pizzas, Persian-inspired entrees, and plates of wine-kissed seafood inspired the Sorentos team to open a second locale in Marlborough in the summer of 2008. The timing of the addition was serendipitous?just half a year later, a neighborhood fire caused the Boston locale to burn to the ground, leaving behind nothing but fond memories and a lone calzone with especially crispy edges. Today, the Marlborough location works doubly hard in honor of its predecessor, drawing in crowds, press attention, and a rating of "excellent" from Zagat. Seated at tables draped in white linens, patrons can quell their cravings for the Mediterranean with appetizers such as fried calamari with red-pepper r?moulade; gourmet pizzas with toppings such as grilled chicken, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese; and elegant entrees featuring havarti-stuffed chicken breasts.