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.
Since its founding in 2001, The Upper Crust Pizzeria has fashioned artful thin-crust pizzas in 19 storefronts with modern, architectural touches. Chefs craft specialty pies inspired by local landmarks, from the sundried-tomato cobblestones of the Beacon Hill to the pesto-painted walls of the Green Monster. Diners can opt to spread sweet sauce over a regular or whole-wheat crust or request that any pie be served white without sauce, and combine slices with crisp salads or pounce on the geometric goodness of a spinach square or half moon-shaped calzone. Restaurant interiors are accoutered with modern flourishes such as flat-screen TVs and pan-decorated ceilings, allowing one to lie down and admire their reflection before a postmeal nap.
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.
Southborough House of Pizza's original 1974 location was teeny tiny. With one table and six stools at the counter, only 10 customers could comfortably fit inside at a time. But people were so crazy for their pizzas that in 1984, the restaurant moved to its current home, a renovated town fire station. Now there's have plenty of room for the pizzeria's faithful customers, who come for the inventive specialty pizzas such as the Cheeseburger topped with pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Another favorite is the Garlic Infusion, with just enough garlic flavor to balance its ripe tomatoes and olives. Diners can also stuff themselves with other Italian-inspired delights, such as hefty grinders on french bread and hearty pasta dishes that will make your fork question whether it's good enough for the job.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.