Today's Groupon gets you $50 worth of authentic Italian cuisine and drink for $20 at G'Vanni's Ristorante. G'Vanni's is a North End eatery known for its tasty tomato sauce and warm atmosphere. This Groupon is good at any of the restaurant's three locations in Boston, Billerica, and Portland.
John Stowe embarked on a career in the restaurant business when he started bussing tables at a local inn as a teenager. After years he amassed a dossier that includes waiting tables, bartending, sampling cuisine throughout Europe, and cooking aboard a 115-ft. luxury schooner. The self-taught chef opened his own restaurant, Rustica Cucina Italiana, in 2006.
Black-and-white photographs line his eatery's crimson and cream walls, and black linen-topped tables support the weight of large portions of rustic Italian fare prepared to order with fresh ingredients. Pasta arrives curled around seafood, meatballs, or house-made Italian sausage and cloaked in herbaceous marinara or creamy parmesan alfredo sauce. Sandwiches fill diners with homemade focaccia during lunch, and crisp pizzas fill guests with warmth any time they're used as seat cushions.
Until the time it emerges from the oven, nearly everything is homemade at La Cena Italian Bistro & Pizzeria. Toppings such as mushrooms, pepperoni, and jalapeños cover disks of hand-tossed dough, and homemade bread envelops ham, turkey, or roast-beef subs or buffalo-chicken paninis. Even the salads are prepared right before patrons’ eyes, easing their fears that the vegetables have been freshly chopped and not simply thrown at the kitchen’s ceiling fan.
Stepping inside TJ’s Pizza transports patrons back to the '50s. Red booths span the black-and-white checkered floor, and pink and blue neon lights run across the walls. A jukebox plays tunes while guests grab slices of pizza topped with broccoli, grilled chicken, and jalapeños. The chefs’ extreme pizza creations include a double-cheeseburger pie and a spaghetti pizza. The chefs also cut their own french fries and fry mozzarella sticks in vegetable oil.
Every single seat at Davis Island Grill has a view of the Sheepscot River. It’s quite a feat considering how big the restaurant is, and it's also a testament to how owners John Smigielski and Mark McGuy incorporate the surrounding scenery into both the restaurant’s layout and its food. Chefs prepare local produce and freshly caught local seafood to create seasonal menus that celebrate Maine cuisine. Menus typically include the signature steamed, crab-stuffed lobster, as well as tender steaks, grilled swordfish, and Angry Orchard applewood-smoked barbecue ribs. Chefs also craft meaty sandwiches that pair up nicely with the bar's selection of local microbrews.
On select nights, a corner of the bar gets converted into a stage, where Davis Island Grill hosts live entertainment and bands comprised entirely of lobsters.
Hope General Store's historic building's roots stretch back as early as 1832, and its rustic interior greets guests with imported goods, up to 140 varieties of beer, and a menu of sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Graze on gourmet bites such as the Pinchy shaved-steak sandwich, a toasted sub stuffed with mushrooms, peppers, and swiss ($6.25) and the blue spinach salad, which hosts an army of creamy blue cheese and avocado as well as apples and mushrooms ($4.25). Adorn a customizable pizza ($4.50+) with an array of toppings, or opt for a predressed pie such as the France pizza, which delights diverse appetites with a quarter border of pineapple and ham, a quarter pepperoni, a quarter veggie, and a quarter cheese, united with a fried-egg centerpiece ($10 for a small 12” pizza; $15 for a large 16” pizza). Hope General Store's cozy interior is peppered with modern touches such as solar panels and WiFi, although the certified post office within the store allows guests to easily send a care package via mail instead of shoving it through a computer screen.