Vincent and Annette Agostino had one goal when founding AVA Cucina: re-create the spirit of a casual family kitchen in the Old World. Now, they have a place where housemade meatballs and marinara sauce top Sunday spaghetti dinners, which are followed by rich bites of housemade tiramisu dotted with a sweet raspberry sauce. It's also a place that's been like a second home to their five grown children, who have all chipped in at AVA Cucina at one point or another.
The taupe-hued walls feature homespun touches, too, including a hanging collection of cast-iron skillets and three impressionistic paintings of the Italian countryside. Guests can dine among them at tables draped in black tablecloths or in AVA Cucina's glass-enclosed section, which provides the benefits of an outdoor-seating view without any of the downsides caused by inclement weather or lonely skywriters.
Zapp Brasserie’s executive chef, Rachid Kourda, sears and sautés French-inspired menu items upon order in an eclectic atmosphere dotted by antique décor and a wide-screen TV. Lobster-and-crab ravioli provide pillows for the grilled salmon as it lazes with potato croquette and cream of asparagus ($17), and a mountain of duck-confit fettuccini rolls under a dusting of shaved parmigiano reggiano ($17), inspiring tines to form cheese angels. Knives can carve into citrus chicken, allowing knife operators to take in its zest as it playfully flirts with an herb-roasted potato ($15), and slices of the steak frite sizzle in a bourbon-shallot reduction with pommes frites ($17) piled nearby. Diners can enjoy meals indoors around a fireplace or outdoors near the water of a swimming-pool bar, leaving only the last three of the five basic elements—earth, wind, and an up-to-date chemistry textbook—to be discovered during Zapp experiences.
Strawberry Fair has been filling bellies with a comforting menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes since opening in 1975. Kick off mornings with a deliciously countrified french toast made with grilled-until-golden cornbread and served with bacon or sausage ($8) or an omelette customized with a variety of meat and vegetable fillings ($7+). Midday stomach whining can be silenced with a turkey sandwich dressed with stuffing and cranberry sauce ($9), a bowl of hearty clam chowder ($6), or shepherd's pie with seasoned ground beef, onion, and corn topped with mashed potatoes ($10). Chef Casey McKinley spares no expense with his selection of dinner specials that include grilled salmon ($18), pecan-crusted chicken ($17), and scallops boursin, a blend of fresh sea scallops, boursin cheese, white wine, and seasoned crumbs baked golden and snuggled up next to potatoes and vegetables ($20, price subject to change). Diners who manage to resist the urge to tackle main courses like ravenous cartoon tigers save room for freshly baked pies, cookies, and other delectable desserts.
The culinarians at Eli's Pub craft a menu that reflects the comfortable tastescape of New England. An appetizer of garlicky P.E.I. mussels ($11)—ambrosial anthropoids basking in white wine and accompanied by tomatoes, fresh herbs, and grilled crostini—widens the gullet for meatier fare. Whet succulence whistles with the Cancun burger ($13.95), topped with jack cheese, guacamole, and fried jalapenos, or the flat-iron steak ($15.50) served wrinkle-free with starched pomme frites. Watch as candied walnuts and strawberries frolic on the baby-arugula salad ($8), or feign the mythical gallantry of an Argonaut while pillaging into Greek dolmathes ($7).
Harnessing techniques passed down from their family's first generation of haircutters in Italy in the late 1800s, the Zona clan continues garnering acclaim for its hairstyling prowess, including a spot in the hair salon category of Boston Magazine's Best of Boston 2009. Today, the family of hair experts trims tresses alongside graduates of the salon's three-phase training program. Trainees also brush up on shearing skills at advanced academies in London and New York before adroitly shaping their clientele?s hair, fashioning stylish updo's, and executing full color transformations with an extensive stock of Aveda products. The salon's three locations bring their styling prowess to neighborhoods around town, making it easier to look good than to persuade others your split ends are intentional.
Jennifer Warshaw began her confection-crafting career as a young apprentice in her mother’s bakery, Maggie’s Corner. Now she uses recipes handed down through the generations to fashion cupcakes, house-made granola, fresh jam, and healthful breakfast treats. Jennifer's signature cupcakes are available in classic flavor profiles, or injected with a complementary filling to create combinations—such as blueberry pie or peanut-butter cup—that rotate daily or whenever they’ve accrued enough vacation time. Her staff attaches handwritten tags to treats with azure ribbon, announcing a scone's flavor or a coffee's boldness and origin. In addition, the sweet shop assembles baking utensils or cupcake-decorating ingredients into gift baskets to help amateur confectioners perfect their craft.