At Oishii Too Sushi Bar, chef Kung San fuses his knowledge of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, south Asian, and French techniques with fresh, local ingredients to create dishes that are as tasty as they are beautiful. The well-traveled chef handpicks produce from local farmer's markets and fish that's fresh out of Boston Harbor, crafting sushi with yellowtail, salmon, and soft-shell crab. But he also garners inspiration from his own customers, using their ideas to design an innovative menu page devoted to patron-generated rolls such as scallop sushi topped with tobiko, Japanese mayo, and lemon.
The upscale, artistic maki is complemented by an array of sake and wine and an elegant ambience. Soft lighting at the green, lit-from-beneath sushi bar illuminates a few potted flowers, who crane their necks to jealously admire the natural beauty of the chef's creations.
Though Bistro 20 Restaurant & Tavern's contemporary dining room can accommodate more than 175 guests, its staff keeps the restaurant casual in the bistro tradition. Dark wood panels and a red-and-brown color scheme dominate the cozy interior, where soft lighting plays on photographs and Italian paintings or spills out from a fireplace like syrup from a newly tapped syrup bottle. Inside the kitchen, chefs craft Italian and American meals using ingredients such as housemade pasta, farm-fresh produce, and Maine grass-fed beef. They plate chicken piccata, grilled mahi mahi, and grilled grass-fed beef tenderloin alongside fruits de mer, braised lamb shank, and grilled steaks, and customize pizzas with up to 23 eclectic toppings.
Inside Sierras, an antlered chandelier overlooks cream tile-plated tables, ocean blue floors, and walls festooned with antlered skulls and colorful plates in pale blues and vibrant reds. The meals are just as colorful, from the dollops of sour cream, pico de gallo, and chili that top a tower of homemade corn nachos to the roasted red peppers, sweet corn, and Monterey jack cheese that pops out of burritos.
Backed by a cavalcade of positive press, Vincenzo's has been serving up tongue tantalizing Italian dishes for years. Its menu contains a cornucopia of comforting classics to pacify the palate. Appetizers include delicately fried calamari ($6.95) and shell-clad escargot ($7.95), prepared slowly to mimic their speed in nature. Penne Diavolo, a house favorite, combines tubular pasta with spicy Italian sausage, onion, black olives, and mushrooms in a rich roasted-red-pepper cream sauce ($11.95). Vincenzo's also serves a selection of chops, steaks, seafood, and St. Louis–style pizzas to satisfy hunger or jog ancient memories of eldritch arch-shaped structures.
Nashoba’s owners and baker bromantics, Stuart Witt and John Gates, make everything in their breadbasket with a special slow-rise method. Each loaf rises slowly over the course of 24 hours, fueled by a unique starter developed by co-owner Stu that produces a profoundly pillowy texture and a beautiful, glossy, full head of crust. Every day, hundreds of these mesmerizing loaves float out into the world from Nashoba's 32,000-pound French-made bread oven like so many doughy dandelion spores buoyed by a warm, yeasty breeze. And each of Nashoba’s plethora of riseable dough varieties can take you someplace different. Transport yourself to shores lapped by wine-dark Mediterranean waters with an olive loaf ($5.50), or trick nearby turkeys into roasting, basting, and slicing themselves with a too-toothsome-to-resist rosemary garlic breadball ($4.45). Trek to an oasis of thick, chewy dates on the camel’s back of a seven-grain ($5.50), and avenge the pigeons that killed your father with pieces from a sourdough loaf laced with combustively spicy pepper jack ($4.10).
Aromas of sizzling shellfish, spiced tomatoes, juicy steaks, and roasted fruits waft through the sleek modern interiors of Serafina, where chefs craft seasonal Italian dishes with a focus on the Tuscan style. At the raw bar, staffers serve dozens of oysters, jumbo shrimp, and littleneck clams on the half shell. In the dining room, servers ferry complex gourmet dishes whose ingredients complement one another. They serve Italian seafood stew, Tuscan-style sirloin steak, long island duck breast, and pizzas topped with roast pears and figs or barbecue chicken. It’s food that has been praised by reviewers from such publications as the Boston Globe and the Concord Journal.
Behind the bar, floor-to-ceiling wine racks house more than 60 wines from regions throughout Italy and the United States, as well as Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. The sounds of general merriment are accompanied by regular live piano, bass, or sax in jazz and contemporary styles.