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.
At Andrea's House of Pizza, the aroma of freshly cooked pizzas hangs in the air, melding with wafts of gyro meat and fried chicken. As guests peruse the pizza menu, they’re greeted with a globetrotting selection of Greek-, Hawaiian-, and Brazilian-styled pies, as well as the local Bostonian topped with onion, eggplant, and broccoli. There are 36 types of grinders, sandwiched between sub rolls, pita bread, or impatient hands, that share table space with fried chicken meals, as well as burgers and wraps.
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Since its founding in 2001, The Upper Crust Pizzeria has fashioned artful thin-crust pizzas in 19 storefronts with modern, architectural touches. Chefs craft specialty pies inspired by local landmarks, from the sundried-tomato cobblestones of the Beacon Hill to the pesto-painted walls of the Green Monster. Diners can opt to spread sweet sauce over a regular or whole-wheat crust or request that any pie be served white without sauce, and combine slices with crisp salads or pounce on the geometric goodness of a spinach square or half moon-shaped calzone. Restaurant interiors are accoutered with modern flourishes such as flat-screen TVs and pan-decorated ceilings, allowing one to lie down and admire their reflection before a postmeal nap.
The man behind Savino's Grill is Tom Cutrone, a veteran chef who's pushing three decades in the cooking business. His menu of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine features cured Italian meats, artisanal cheeses, and entrees such as chive pappardelle, lamb loin chop with fried polenta, and pan-roasted salmon served over pasta shells—all of it enhanced by European wines. On Thursday nights, live jazz washes over guests as they enjoy their meals and stack complimentary bread rolls into the shape of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.