The Dave behind Dave’s Fresh Pasta has spent more than 20 years perfecting the art of pasta making, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t mind having an audience as he works. He and his staff cut fresh fettuccine, spaghetti, and handmade ravioli right in front of customers. From there, diners take their meal's conception into their own hands, choosing from any of Dave's fresh, house-made sauces––puttanesca, vodka cream, and basil pesto are just a few of the choices available on any given day. But despite the name, pasta isn’t the only draw at Dave's. The grocery store brings together a tantalizing spread of homemade items—croutons, crostini, pestos, dressings—with a curated selection of cheeses, chocolates, olives, cured meats, oils, vinegars, craft beers, and wines. Customers looking to try something new will find plenty of samples to enjoy as they browse, while grilled paninis, fresh soups, and ready-to-eat pasta dishes await anyone in desperate need of a quick meal or ammunition for an office food fight.
Situated at the core of Davis Square, Diva Indian Bistro brims with the aromas of a menu that borrows from the culinary traditions of regions from Bangalore to Bombay. Beneath a bubbly goldenrod ceiling that looks like a collection of soft-lit skylights, patrons settle onto plump black benches to munch samosas and peruse offerings of lamb, seafood, beef, and tandoori dishes soaked in the warmth of the traditional clay oven. Saffron- and cardamom-scented basmati rice stars in biryani dishes, and dosas, a type of crepe crafted from rice and lentils, enclose chicken or veggie fillings alongside coconut chutney and lentil soup. The wall behind Diva’s bar mimics the ceiling’s rectangular bubble pattern in white, with a long row of blue glass bottles bisecting the surface. High black and chrome chairs slide up to the brushed-silver bar, where patrons murmur over cocktails and ice clicks occasionally like a tap dancer having a nice dream.
Vinny's Ristorante encapsulates the notion of a hidden gem—upon arrival at the address, customers often first think they're lost, as it appears they're mistakenly at a convenience store. The Italian eatery is tucked in the back of this store, so once customers spot red-checkered tablecloths, along with "the vaguely Sopranos-esque clientele sucking down pasta fazool," it's clear they've made it.
Boston magazine reviewers—who observed the Tony Soprano lookalikes when they deemed Vinny's worthy of the Best of Boston list for affordable Italian in 2006—highlight the restaurant's antipasto bar and "massive" portions of handmade pasta as the major draws. And although the word's been out for some time about this secluded Sicilian hotspot, Vinny's marinara and handmade mafalda noodles, impressive Zagat rating, and ceiling fans modeled after da Vinci's helicopter blueprints continue to captivate loyal regulars.
Inside Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant, companions gather around a traditional mesob, a table woven from colorful straw, for a communal dining experience. Upon the mesob’s concave surface, servers nestle a broad platter that holds a family-style meal neatly scooped out onto a foundation of spongy injera bread. Diners dive in together, tearing scraps of injera, which they use to pinch turmeric-spiced bites of beef, lamb, poultry, and veggies from the menu's selection of specialty dishes. Between bites, patrons can sip tej, a wine fermented from hops and raw honey that is served hot or cold. After meals, rounds of warming coffee signal the repast's end as clearly as the gong that sounds at the end of a Shakespearian soliloquy.
Soft music fills Yak & Yeti's confines, where a design installation of white crisscrossing cords twists along the green ceiling, creating a gauzy canopy above tables. Within this artistic-leaning space, servers carry plates of India and Nepal's native cuisines, much of which are made with naturally low-fat ingredients such as chicken and vegetables. More than 120 culinary creations—from steamed chicken dumplings to boneless lamb—send their enticing aromas through the dining room and to waiting diners. In the kitchen, flames flicker in the clay tandoori oven as it bakes and crisps fish, naan, and kebabs. Complementing these main attractions are glassfuls of traditional beverages such as mango lassi or desserts of sweet milk balls, which chefs fry in a sugar syrup.
The chefs at Masala rain Indian and Nepali seasonings down upon succulent meats slow-cooked inside a tandoor clay oven and simmered veggies flooded with sauce. Divided into two, Masala’s menu features Indian favorites such as curries, skewered lamb cubes, and 13 types of Indian bread, including hand-stretched garlic naan, as well as Nepali dishes such as mo-mo cha steamed dumplings filled with veggies or chicken. Within the eatery’s yellow-hued walls, a full bar cohabitates with a daily lunch buffet, which arranges tasty eats in a row, like a police lineup of the California Raisins.