Though Rio de Janeiro native Alexandre Alvarenga grew up in Brazil, he spent his formative culinary years perfecting Italian, French, and Portuguese culinary techniques. After two decades of learning in other people’s kitchens (including Sweet Basil in Needham), he opened Chef’s House, where he prepares a predominantly Italian menu full of dishes such as lobster ravioli made with handmade pasta. There are hints of South American flavors as well—diners can order beef stew with yucca, and the dessert list includes passion-fruit mousse and vanilla flan. Chef’s House is just as adept at creating breakfast and lunch favorites. Patrons can come by as early as 7 a.m. for omelets and cinnamon french toast or stop by for lunch boxes that might be packed with pork loin or breaded tilapia.
The Chef’s House team also caters events with a variety of lunch and dinner entrees. Clients can outfit midday meetings with lunch boxes stuffed with premade sandwiches, salad, and cookies, or a sandwich buffet with assorted breads, meats, and veggies. The extensive entree list harkens back to Italian classics such as chicken riva with sausage and sweet peppers.
Though churrasca restaurants are popping up everywhere, Ivan Utrera is generally recognized as the first bold soul to open a Brazilian steakhouse in America, bringing family recipes from his native city of Sao Paulo. For nearly 20 years, Rodizio Grill's teams of gauchos have presented three-foot skewers of rotisserie-grilled meats tableside, giving guests the opportunity to sample as much as they can shake their fork at. The selection of seasoned meats includes picanha com parmesao—sirloin encrusted with parmesan—and frango agri-doce, chicken glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce. The gauchos also present skewered fruits and vegetables, including Rodizio's signature grilled pineapple.
The menu keeps it simple with only a few other embellishments, but they certainly share the spotlight with the churrasca. Unlimited appetizers include polenta and banana poppers, and a gourmet salad bar features whipped potatoes, Brazilian black-bean stew, and grilled veggies with parmesan cheese. Everything is homemade, including the desserts and the specialty limeades concocted from fresh limes and sweet cream. Because the menu is centered on meat and vegetables, 90% of the restaurant's dishes are gluten-free and wouldn't know the first thing about how to approach a carb at a dance party.
Founded by Eric Bickernicks, Velma's Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn serves up fresh kettle-cooked popcorn at stands and farmers' markets throughout New England. The staff also brings its salty snacks to private events and parties.
Jennifer Warshaw began her confection-crafting career as a young apprentice in her mother’s bakery, Maggie’s Corner. Now she uses recipes handed down through the generations to fashion cupcakes, house-made granola, fresh jam, and healthful breakfast treats. Jennifer's signature cupcakes are available in classic flavor profiles, or injected with a complementary filling to create combinations—such as blueberry pie or peanut-butter cup—that rotate daily or whenever they’ve accrued enough vacation time. Her staff attaches handwritten tags to treats with azure ribbon, announcing a scone's flavor or a coffee's boldness and origin. In addition, the sweet shop assembles baking utensils or cupcake-decorating ingredients into gift baskets to help amateur confectioners perfect their craft.
Short for Boston yogurt, Boyo cools cravings with a fresh selection of frozen treats. Its menu's main feature is the rotating selection of frozen yogurts ($2.75–$4.95), packed full of protein, calcium, and anti-antibiotic probiotics. Pair a portion with any of the more than 50 toppings, including fresh fruits, candies, sauces, and cereals. Boyo also scoops a selection of gelato ($2.99–$4.99), sorbet ($2.99–$4.99), and Brigham's ice cream ($2.75–$4.95), which can be swirled into smoothies ($4.75), sorbetto spritzers ($3.99), or scattered across a canvas and sold as modern art. Micromunchers seeking room-temperature temptations can get their fix at the bulk-candy bar, which amasses 48 bins of different candies to mix and match.
Judy Rosenberg didn’t set out to be an award-winning chef or an NPR-lauded cookbook author. The owner of Rosie’s Bakery found her calling in 1974 after attending art school and gobbling desserts at some of New York’s finest bakeries, becoming inspired to forge her own batch of sweets. When the staff of a local cheesecake shop got hooked on her homemade cookies, she knew she’d found a recipe for success. Since then, she’s expanded her culinary repertoire to include fudge-nut brownies, bavarian-cream fruit tarts, and more than 14 types of muffins and scones.
Each recipe teems with real, old-fashioned ingredients, such as butter, cream, sugar, and edible monocles. Cakes come in circular layers and rectangular sheets, boasting flavors such as carrot and mocha. Filled with snickerdoodles and chocolate-chip rounds, the cookie lineup conjures more childhood memories than a psychiatrist who rides to work in an ice-cream truck.