Steeped in centuries of rich tradition, Italian cuisine relies on quality ingredients and simple preparations to yield beautifully bold flavors. Since 1983, the chefs of Nello’s Cafe have drawn on such traditions to fill their extensive menu with Old-World staples such as lasagna and seafood diavolo, which they serve alongside burgers and other American fare.
Named Best Cupcake by Boston magazine in 2010, Five Bites Cupcakes sates voracious sweet teeth with a creative selection of petite pastries prepared with fresh ingredients. Simultaneously appease finicky uncles ravenous for red velvet and picky preschoolers pining for pumpkin with a customized assortment of delectable treats, each one sporting a thick tam-o'-shanter of luscious and ornate frosting. Mouths homesick for native Massachusetts will find comfort in the boston-cream cupcake, a hand-sized dessert filled with sweet cream custard and basted with dark-chocolate ganache, and candy connoisseurs hungry enough to lick the wellington boots of a Candy Land cropper can sample the lemon-drop cupcake. Those with an irresolute palate can stay perched atop the fence with a marble cupcake, a treat that brings together the polarizing flavors of white and chocolate cake for a therapeutic hug before undergoing a healing session of delicious mastication.
A greenhouse is a place for things to thrive—plants, flowers, miniature golf courses. Perhaps the last item in that group isn't as conventional as the first two, but at Trombetta's Farm, it's perfectly normal. The Marlboro location's 18-hole course snakes players across bridges, through tunnels, and past a trickling, hand-built waterfall, all beneath the sun-splashed roof of a greenhouse. Sticking with its green theme, Trombetta's Farm doubles as a garden center, showcasing vibrant annuals, perennial shrubs and trees, and herb and vegetable plants from local growers. Hanging baskets and gift plants also brighten the space. During visits, guests can even cool off by snacking on homemade ice cream, which Trombetta's has been crafting since 1978. The shop's diary specialists churn out 10 flavors of soft serve and several varieties of frozen yogurt.
Helmed by owner and pastry chef Kristen Livoti, the skilled baking team at BellaCakes creates customized cakes and cupcakes to wow guests at weddings and other special occasions. Livoti opened the boutique shop in 2008, after graduating from cooking school in Edinburgh and working as a pastry chef in New England. Now, from within their flour-filled kitchen, she and her team transform nearly any idea into a frosting-covered creation, such as cakes designed as castles, complete with turrets and grumpy handmaidens locked inside, to wedding cakes topped with vintage roses or fondant hand-painted seashells. In addition to being a nut-free shop, BellaCakes also specializes in accommodating customers with dietary restrictions by making vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free cakes and cupcakes.
Baker Adie Sprague, who made a splash as a participant on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, showcases her meticulous dessert designs at Treat Cupcake Bar. She crafts at least a dozen flavors every day, including seasonal goodies such as candy apple—an apple cake smothered with cinnamon frosting. Adie also whips up separate batches for gluten-free and vegan patrons, such as chocolate cake crowned with mint cookies ‘n' cream frosting.
Rather than hog all the decorating fun for itself, Treat invites guests to make their very own creations at its namesake bar. There, you’ll find four varieties of both cake and frosting, plus more than 20 other toppings, such as Pop Rocks and chocolate-covered pretzels. To refine your decorating skills, sign up for one of Treat’s holiday-themed classes and learn to make seasonal shapes such as turkeys for Thanksgiving and smashed calculators for National Do Long Division by Hand Day.
Joel's at Needham Square proves that “penny candy” isn’t a myth, unlike $0.25 haircuts and dollar automobiles. The quarter-century-old cornucopia of gourmet sweets brims with buckets of bulk gummies, jellybeans, and hard candies that complement a selection of seasonal sweets and fine Vermont chocolates. Joel's latest owners took over the store in 2006 with the goal of upgrading and expanding its selection, resulting in the store’s gourmet candy baskets, as well as a collection of plush dolls, stationery, and kitchenware. Satiated sweet teeth can step aside for Joel's more savory selection of gourmet grilling sauces, fragrant teas, and hand-bottled jams.