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.
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. Other menu items includes creamy crispy deep-fried jumbo shrimp with coconut sauce and spicy orders of Mala chicken, as well as signature sushi rolls like red sox maki and tempura lobster.
Melt Cafe and Gelato Bar grounds its recipes and preparation techniques in Italian tradition, creating desserts that are low in both fat and calories. The franchise encompasses brick-and-mortar storefronts and kiosks across five states. In each, staffers craft the classic whipped Italian ice cream, gelato, in more than 30 flavors such as cappuccino, pistachio, and swiss chocolate. Dessert cups also brim with silky-soft sorbetto, which is made entirely from sugar and fresh fruits. Though Melt focuses on frozen treats, it also lives up to the café portion of its name with hearty panini sandwiches and sweet or savory crepes. Tuscan-style espresso and drip coffee wash down bites of food and give you the energy to finish that screenplay about the lost dog who, by finding his owner, also finds himself.
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.
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.
Pizza Peddler and Deli's amiable dough-slingers spin out an extensive menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and other savory delectables. Sate cavernous appetites with a bevy of specialty tomato-pasted pies, including the greek pizza, a circular sensation doused in a pantheon of feta, olives, and spinach and carried to each table upon the back of a lightning bolt (small $10.49, large $14.99). The eatery's equally exotic Bella Italiana sandwich stacks prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil into a leaning tower of taste ($6.99). Those searching for a tongue-dazing meal can suck down a serving of slow-smoked baby back ribs ($9.99 for half, $17.99 for full), then swath taste buds in heaping scoops of gelato, available in an array of flavors, such as blackberry, chocolate, and victory (small $2.99, large $3.99).