After ten hours of slow-cooking, the barbecue ribs at Joe’s American Bar & Grill land on tables tender and ready to fall of the bone. Served with fresh-made coleslaw, these ribs are the centerpiece of a menu overflowing with upscale comfort food. Chefs cut potatoes by hand to accompany bacon cheeseburgers topped with aged cheddar and bread-and-butter pickles made in-house rather than flown in by a talking stork. Grilled pizzas are made fresh to order and never frozen, and hefty sandwiches and hand-cut steaks stack plates with sustenance. On the weekends, brunch dishes come out of hibernation to sate guests with made-to-order omelets and specialties such as eggs benedict and prime-rib hash. Diners enjoy the fresh air on the outdoor patio or cluster around the bar to keep track of sports scores or find out who really got married on Days of Our Lives.
Ornate lanterns bask the dining room of India Palace Restaurant in a warm glow, illuminating the classical Indian portraits and dark wood pillars surrounding the tables. Among these authentic confines—India Palace's second location, after spending 22 years at the original locale—the friendly staff helps guests choose the right dishes from a vibrant menu of fine Indian cuisine. Manning a clay oven fired by charcoal, visible to diners, chefs bake fresh bread, ground-lamb seekh kebabs, salmon tikka, and marinated tandoori chicken. A selection of 18 vegetarian specialties sates the hunger of plant hunters, whereas a variety of curries gives all diners the ability to roar cartoon flames. Indulgent beverages, such as an Indian chai latte or a mango milk shake, can be paired with any dish to sweeten palates.
Tuscan–style archway murals surround the tables at Cucina Toscana, where authentic Italian seafood, pasta, and steak dishes showcase the delicate flavors of scratch-made sauces. Chefs craft sausages and meatballs in-house before tempting eyes and noses with herbs artfully sprinkled atop into stunning portraits of Rembrandt. Each dish is carefully prepared and chefs are flexible with substitutions involving orders, displaying the freshness of ingredients such as prosciutto, stuffed clams, buffalo mozzarella, and garden veggies. Cucina Toscana also caters platters to feed hungry partiers and provide posters of donkeys with edible pasta tails to be pinned.
Cooks at Gourmet India sling health-conscious, regional Indian recipes that have garnered praise from the Boston Globe. The casual eatery packs its menu with North Indian fare and serves South Indian specials on weekends, representing the subcontinent better than one grain of rice from each state. Each combo meal rounds up two to three servings from a rotating list of entrees, flanking the savory morsels with basmati rice or naan. Combo meals always include at least one vegetarian entree so diners can pick between vegetable-based gobhi aloo, a dish of cauliflower cooked with ginger; the palak paneer, a blend of spinach and homemade cheese; or a platter of cumin seeds arranged into a pleasing, vegetable shape. Meatier fare includes chicken tikka masala, tender poultry cooked in a tomato-cream sauce, and lamb korma with cashews and raisins. Dishes emerge steaming from the kitchen with fresh-cooked flavor, unlike entrees at other eateries that import their fare from India so it typically arrives cold. Combo meal 2 includes one appetizer, which could include either potato-filled samosas or aromatic onion bhaju.
Inside Cafe India’s kitchen, chefs fire up their clay ovens to cook tandoori chicken marinated in yogurt and spices and bake tender cubes of lamb lined up on skewers. The restaurant’s menu spotlights dishes from all over India, such as the coconut-accented South Indian curry, from the Kerala region, and the spicy, chili-flavored vindaloo, originated in the western region of Goa. The café’s special vegetarian or non-vegetarian dinners for two feed duos, with entrees complemented with samosas, soups, fresh-baked naan, and basmati rice. Cocktails from the full bar wash down meals and bring out long-forgotten Bollywood dance routines as diners relax in the dining area, painted in warm hues of yellow, orange, and red.
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.