Fresh out of college, Vince Petryk took a job as a dishwasher at an ice cream shop. It was just a temporary gig…or, so he thought. As Petryk climbed through the shop’s ranks—he rose from dishwasher, to scooper, to ice-cream maker, to manager—he was awe-struck by the way ice cream seemed to make people feel happy. From that point on, he knew that he wanted to continue to share that joy with others and that the best way to do it, was to own his own ice cream shop. He perfected his from-scratch ice cream recipe before opening J.P. Licks, named for Jamaica Plain, the neighborhood where he opened his first location. The flavors were immediately a hit and continue to win loyal fans for their intensity and ingenuity––at any given time, guests might find cake batter and chocolate peanut butter ripple on the menu, alongside unusual flavors like tomato basil or beer and pretzels. Since those early days, Vince has also added from-scratch hard and soft frozen yogurts, sherberts, and sorbets. He has even been known to develop flavors to suit the tastes of the area's different ethnic groups, and dairy-free ice creams to provide relief to the area's overworked cows. Beyond serving traditional cones, Petryk and his staff also pack chilly scoops into house-made cakes and pies, blend them into shakes, and transform them into decadent sundaes topped with homemade hot fudge or butterscotch. The icy treats have proved so popular, J.P. Licks now has 10 area stores, leaving them ample wall space for awards: readers of The Phoenix voted it the city’s best ice cream parlor in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Sugar Baking Co. & Restaurant’s kitchen is always full of appealing ingredients: cage-free eggs, certified humane meats, real Vermont maple syrup, and fresh picks from the Roslindale Farmers’ Market. It’s also almost always open; diners flock to the eatery for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning, diners bite into lemon ricotta pancakes and French toast stuffed with brie, and at dinnertime, they feast on braised lamb shank and pan-seared salmon. They complement their meals with wines from New Zealand, Argentina, and France and craft beers from nearby breweries such as Ipswich and Smuttynose. While they enjoy their meals, they also delight in the smell of fresh bread from the on-site bakery, whose treats range from cannolis and éclairs to apple turnovers—regular apples you eat with your feet touching the ceiling.
Housemade buttercream frosting sits atop cupcakes with as much majesty as the snowcapped peaks of the Andes. These monumental treats—which, according to the Boston Globe, come in 60 rotating flavors—aren't the only bit of magic up Sugar Bakery’s sleeve. Croissants, coffee rolls, and lemon and fig squares fill the display case alongside nearly 20 varieties of cookie, from classic chocolate chunk and oatmeal to the shop’s signature raspberry-tart brambles. Customers can also preorder fudge cakes, strawberry shortcakes, and chocolate-mousse crumb cakes or skip the sweets altogether and take home a baguette of freshly baked bread to use for a lengthy sandwich or edible baseball bat.
Five decades ago, Kirio Pantelis wheeled a wooden cart around Kalamata, Greece, peddling syrupy sweets to locals. Today, his son and daughter-in-law oversee the American patisserie and café that evolved from these humble roots, nestled in both Brookline and Brighton. The bakery pays homage to its heritage with walnut-studded cakes and tarts that echo back to communal baking in wood-burning Greek ovens, though the shop draws from all over Europe for luxurious ingredients such as chocolate genoise, poached Turkish apricots, and Belgian cocoa. Puffed éclairs, petits fours, and fruit tartlets evoke the patisseries of Paris, and the bakery’s from-scratch gelato transports tasters to Italy without the hassle of concentrating hard enough to teleport.
Along with these sugary delicacies, the Brighton location also dishes up savory, Mediterranean-inspired fare at a café with marble tabletops and loft ceilings. Diners here fork into cold poached salmon, munch on paninis layered with gruyere or house orange-scented sausage, and savor cold sandwiches filled with roasted pancetta.
Hoping to revive the culture of the neighborhood butcher shop, with its personalized service, attention to detail, and artful products, restaurant-industry veterans Justin Rosberg and Jason Parent took a gamble on their first New Hampshire butcher shop in 2003. Dubbed The Meat House, their store quickly earned a foodie following, spawning additional franchise locations across the country. Today, The Meat House’s Mission Viejo location stocks fine cheeses, prepared side dishes, other gourmet grocery items, and hundreds of wines alongside the usual selection of traditional and exotic meats. Butchers also explain how to prepare each hand-carved cut of meat, sharing recipes, best slicing practices, and cooking techniques for giving pork chops the flavor of justice.
If the French bakers of centuries past were to time-travel to Clear Flour Bread Bakery, the only things that would seem out of place are the staff’s outfits. That’s because the shop prepares all its French and Italian breads according to tradition, eschewing preservatives, bleached flour, and dough conditioners, and baking each hand-shaped loaf on a stone hearth. Some recipes include only four ingredients, showcasing the rich flavors of organic, stone-ground flours in every tantalizingly simple French baguette, hearty vollkornbrot rye loaf, and sourdough petit batard. From that humble starting point, the bakers can also weave in complementary flavors inspired by different regions, creating malty porter pumpernickels, sweet New England-style bread with cranberries and pecans, or tangy Venetian olive bread flavored with hints of oregano. Because the bakers spend each morning crafting loaves from scratch, some staples, such as the rosemary focaccia, are available every day while more unique options, like the fire-roasted tomato rolls, are only baked once per week. This allows the staff extra time to create a selection of hand-crafted pastries and tarts. On any given day, those who follow their nose or the carefully laid path of chocolate coconut macaroons into the shop will find a sweet-smelling bounty that includes croissants, cranberry currant scones, and Clear Flour Bread Bakery's award-winning morning buns.