Family-sized platters emerge from the kitchen alongside individual portions of familiar Italian entrees, entering into a petite but lavishly dressed dining room that the Hudson Reporter referred to as "one of those quality places that doesn’t intimidate you" in a 2011 feature. The menu's selection boasts housemade ravioli, grilled Atlantic salmon, and cuts of veal in one of the chefs' hearty sauces. To accompany meals, Buon Appetito also stocks its cellar with wines from across Italy and California, including fruit-forward reds and refreshing whites that are chilled to their ideal drinking temperatures inside of an igloo.
The dining room maintains a welcoming yet refined ambience, with black linens draped over every table, a ceiling lined with small crystal chandeliers, and walls filled with vibrantly colored vintage advertisements. Buon Appetito's delicatessen fulfills a separate gastronomic purpose, plying visitors with cheeses, sausages, and imported Italian foods instead of fully prepared entrees.
Executive chef Dante Bellucci fills Tartufo's dinner menu with all-natural and organic meats, fish, and vegetables to create Abruzzese recipes drawn from his childhood in Pescara, Italy. Twosomes kick off tableside tours of regional eats with starters such as minestrone soup or arugula salad polka-dotted with goat cheese and roasted red peppers. A shared appetizer tasks dining duos with dismantling a tower of tuna-tartar avocado or unsheathing forks to slice through the eggplant rollettini's labyrinth of ricotta, spinach, and tomato-basil sauce. Main courses entangle taste buds with a selection of 20 pasta entrees bolstered by seafood specialties such as the arrosto di pesce, a potpourri of grilled calamari, scallops, shrimp, and a half lobster. The grilled colorado baby rack of lamb is kissed by flames and swathed in rosemary and extra-virgin olive oil. A choice of dessert quiets diners standing beside tables applauding in hope of an encore with tiramisu or house-made cannoli stuffed with fresh ricotta.
Newton native Jonathan Glick is the creative mind behind Jonathan's Bar & Grille. He designed the menu and the physical space to be both upscale and welcoming. To that end, Jonathan juxtaposes unassuming foods such as chicken, beef, and lobster sliders with higher-end dishes such as a hand-cut Angus sirloin steak with crispy Yukon potatoes and housemade steak sauce. Brunch, lunch, and dinner plates pair nicely with cocktails. An example is the Hot & Dirty martini, which owes its heat to pepperoncini juice, Tabasco sauce, and blue cheese-stuffed olives carved into the shape of whomever is on the cover of People. Jonathan's also serves a fine selection of wines by the glass or bottle and bottled and tap beers.
Circular, red lampshades overhead and a metallic-bead room divider give the space an elegant, modern feel, the centerpiece being a large, four-sided social bar with several high-definition TVs. Live entertainment occasionally resounds throughout low-lit, high-ceilinged interior.
According to a review in the Boston Phoenix, Hedy Jarras opened her own Sweet Tomatoes Pizza after a summer stint working in Cape Cod for Sweet Tomatoes founder Christopher Owens. She became so enamored with the atmosphere and the food that she convinced Owens to allow her to open her own location in her hometown.
Sweet Tomatoes Pizza's recipe forgoes the traditional red sauce in favor of chunky, uncooked tomatoes. Its ingredients create an “unapologetically pungent” pie that can be adorned with more than 31 toppings, including goat cheese, capers, and kalamata olives, and the crust combines a strong backbone of oil-free dough with “the merest hint of flavorful char.” Specialty pizzas such as the Pesto Splash attracts both the olfactory and ocular systems with a thick layer of pesto and chopped fresh garlic. Accompanying the pizzas, tuna-salad, chicken-parmesan, and prosciutto di parma sandwiches round out the Italian-focused menu.
Those seeking Grappa Restaurant might be surprised by where they find it—nestled inside a small building that used to be a house, in the middle of an industrial-warehouse street, between two commercial districts. But behind the front door lies a different atmosphere—only 11 tables sit inside the 700-square-foot space, surrounded by walls striped in pale yellow and blue and decorated with Botticelli paintings. At the center of the room, venetian Fortuny lamps cast light from behind white and yellow silk emblazoned with gold designs. The petite restaurant reverberates with classic pop tunes by singers such as Frankie Valli, often accompanied by crooning from the restaurant's three servers—Will, Carol, and Natalie—who also urge the regular clientele to join them.
Grappa Restaurant's chefs base their menu of traditional Italian food on dishes from the owner's childhood, when her grandmother and mother would fill the kitchen with aromas of seared veal, chicken, and marsala-wine sauce. The chefs conjure these familial scents and flavors as they stuff veal or chicken saltimbocca with ham and mozzarella; toss fettuccine bolognese with chicken sausage, meat sauce, and basil-almond pesto; and drape spinach-and-ricotta ravioli in housemade tomato sauce. Servers often end meals much like sophisticated elementary-school students end food fights: with traditional Italian desserts such as housemade ricotta cannolis.
Fresh from his homeland of Brazil, Chef Rodney Moreira set himself on a path to become a master of Italian cuisine, beginning humbly as a prep cook at Pizzeria Uno. Ultimately, Moreira found his culinary muse, cooking his way up the ladder to his current position as head chef at Porcini's Italian Restaurant, where he holds numerous awards for his pasta and risotto. Building a menu off of these staples, Moreira crafts Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine finished with homemade sauces and fresh herbs. The restaurant's nightly specials and permanent entrees include grilled swordfish steak and pounded veal cutlets, and pair easily with varietals from around the world represented on the carefully curated wine list. The intimate dining room features the warming tendrils of a crackling fireplace, and the garden patio invites guests to indulge in meals under a sky filled with more stars than the sun's rolodex.