Pastalina's Restaurant serves hearty baked pastas and chicken and veal dishes inspired by the Avellino region of southern Italy. Chef and owner Rocco Ciccone whips up a menu full of flavorful dishes such as a zesty puttanesca peppered with capers and olives, and rich pasta alla matriciana, filled with bacon, onions, and plum tomatoes. The restaurant’s catering packages, which can be tailored to huge wedding parties as well as intimate get-togethers, feature homemade fusilli, caprese salad, fruit platters, chicken cacciatore, and other offerings.
Chinese and Japanese culinary traditions unite inside the walls of Asia Palace, appeasing polar cravings with meals ranging from spicy General Tso’s chicken, scorched with red peppers, to sushi hand rolls with cooling ingredients such as cucumber, raw salmon, and creamy avocado. The sushi bar also churns out specialty sushi rolls with some heat, including the wasabi roll with tuna and yellowtail as well as the lobster roll topped with crunchy spicy tuna. Classic dishes from other areas of Asia include pad thai with peanuts and egg; singapore rice noodles with wok-fried shrimp, pork, and chicken in a curry sauce; and lychee nuts—which are played with in place of marbles in Korea.
Chef and owner Ayman Noufal crafts gourmet Italian dinners at Lantana Café, a charming neighborhood restaurant and bar. The menu features classic meat entrees including veal and chicken marsala, and a handful of vegetarian pastas such as tortellini alia pesto. You’ll also find a variety of local seafood—shrimp, mussels, baby clams, and a half Maine lobster top the signature Lantata Al Forno linguine dish, which can only be eaten with Poseidon’s trident. Brick-oven pizzas and global plates such as paella round out the rest of the menu.
Guests enjoy all of these dishes in an intimate 45-person dining room. Tinned ceilings, chandeliers, and a wooden hutch stocked with glassware add a touch of elegance to every meal. This classy yet cozy vibe carries over to the bar and lounge area, where diners can watch their meals spring from a giant slingshot out of the partially open kitchen.
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.
The skilled chefs at Blue Fuji deftly meld organic vegetables and fresh wild-caught seafood in specialty sushi and authentic Japanese and Chinese entrees. Blue Fuji's menu bursts with an appetizing array of specialty maki rolls, including fruity Hawaii maki ($10.95/5 pieces) and Red Sox maki ($13.95/8 pieces), which tucks shrimp tempura, potato tempura, and digital photos of Fenway into a tuna-topped seaweed blanket. Savor piquant chicken or beef teriyaki for a traditional treat ($19.95), or indulge in eclectic entrees, such as una-ju ($18.95), broiled eel glazed with sugary soy sauce, to silence an unruly sweet tooth. Amiable servers unite diners and entrees in Blue Fuji's spacious dining room, which glows invitingly with golden walls, flickering candles, and customer-service-trained sunbeams.
Tom Yum Koong's chefs build on traditional Thai recipes to load their menu with exciting and eclectic ingredients ranging from tangerines and mango to wild boar and squid. Sugar and spice join forces to season the thick sauce simmering in the black-pepper-mango curry ($10.95), a flavorful bowl of vegetables and cashews mixed with a choice of meat. A medley of seameats such as mussels and squid sizzle in the Phuket fried rice ($10.95), and the fantasy tilapia ($13.95) takes time off from reading J.R.R. Tolkien to glide out of the kitchen atop a bed of veggies simmering in chili sauce. Basil leaves join peppers, onion, and pork in a skittering dance across the skillet in the pan-fried wild-boar basil ($9.95). Fresh-fish cravings recede at the sushi bar to prevent persistent urges to trawl through exhibits at the local aquarium.