Local artists and spouses Denise Girardin and Steve Levinsky are the brains behind Palettes, a studio that aims to awaken the creative side of the community with painting's jubilant anthem. The couple's artistic endeavors stretch far beyond Palettes, though—Steve plumbs the depths of fire to find glass art, and Denise designs unique pottery inspired by the ocean and the seahorses that ride off into the sunset every evening. In addition, they are so involved in local affairs that Natick Center Associates selected them as the recipients of the 2012 Heart of the Community Award.
A row of easels dominates Palettes' roomy space during classes and open sessions, in which students re-create works of art while snacking on menu items such as asian-noodle salad and sweet-potato chips. Herb-, spice-, and fruit-infused potions flood the Water Bar, whose imported and house-made waters are perfect for making toasts to the art instructors for offering such helpfully Latin-free guidance. Palettes' people also teach students how to develop their taste buds during Waters of the World Club educational lectures, which lead to the studio's signature H2Ommelier certification.
With two locations situated in the heart of Harvard Square and Natick, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant reflects the unique maritime flavors of Boston and the Atlantic coast, receiving daily shipments of fresh seafood such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and Maine clams. Cooks stir fresh pots of New England clam chowder and broil filets of Bluefish, Idaho rainbow trout, and swordfish swathed in butter and garlic over their breadcrumb-flavored scales. At each restaurant, patrons can unwind in the evenings in a lounge with beers on tap, sports on the TV, and martini glasses filled with specialty cocktails.
Three generations strong, Tilly & Salvy's Bacon Street Farm offers fresh organic produce as well as the atypical knowledge of its wares' origins. Browse the shop's selection for local treats such as heirloom tomatoes ($4.99/lb.) and new york strip steak ($12.99/lb.), which supply loads of flavor to tongues as a way of showing gratitude for having not been packaged in a faceless factory or a used pillowcase.
Feng Shui embraces the culinary traditions of both China and Japan while updating its menu seasonally, garnering praise from the Boston Business Journal and New England Cable News for its extensive selection. Stir-fried orders of chicken, beef, and seafood arrive laden with ginger or signature sauces, and sushi chefs roll maki with traditional tuna and salmon or such innovative combinations as strawberry and wasabi aioli. At some locations, the dining rooms include tabletop hibachi-style grills where chefs, like Shakespeare as a toddler, put on food-based shows, flipping, dicing, and sizzling Angus-certified beef in cholesterol-free rice-bran oils that are rich in vitamin E.
Homesick for their favorite Windy City foods, Cara, Tony and Anthony Spalla started Spalla's Chicago Italian Beef and neighborhood store Culinary Delights European Deli embraced carrying Spalla's food to introduce Chicago's casual fare to Boston. Chicago-style hot dogs—whose trademark ingredients include pickle spears, hot sport peppers, and neon green relish—join a hearty menu of slow-roasted Italian Beef in gravy crowned with sauteed sweets and giardiniera hots. The Spallas also handcraft italian ice in flavors such as piña colada, mango, black cherry, and chocolate.