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.
Lunch boxes burst with authentic eats from Lola's Italian Groceria, where sandwich artisans sculpt imported ingredients and cold cuts into culinary masterpieces, including several gluten-free dishes. The sultry sizzle of the midday menu's eggplant parmesan sandwich, slathered with tomato sauce and provolone cheese ($6.25 for small, $8.25 for large), serenades diners into passionate acts of devouring. Meanwhile, a meaty triumvirate of mortadella, salami, and hot ham fight for final condiment authority over the italian sub, ablaze with a heap of hot peppers ($6 for small, $7.50 for large).
The Pizza Shop @ South Natick renders hunger powerless with colossal slices of New York–style pie on hand-stretched dough shellacked with homemade sauce. Crust-lusters can build their own scrumptious circles ($10.50 plus $1.49 per topping for a large) from a list of favorite and offbeat ingredients such as ricotta cheese and meatballs. They can also sample specialty pizzas ($10.30–$20.90) such as the Godfather, an olive-oiled saga starring sliced tomatoes, grilled chicken, artichoke, romano, mozzarella, and the chef's questionably-cast daughter. The Spinocolli forgoes sauce in favor of sliced tomato on olive oil and garlic, with a spinach, broccoli, and mozzarella quilt for warmth. The extensive menu pleases diverse appetites, with calzones ($9.20–$15.30) and subs ($6.25–$7.25) taking up plate residence beside burritos ($7.25) stuffed with pulled pork, steak tips, or chicken.
Pizza Peddler and Deli's amiable dough-slingers spin out an extensive menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and other savory delectables. Sate cavernous appetites with a bevy of specialty tomato-pasted pies, including the greek pizza, a circular sensation doused in a pantheon of feta, olives, and spinach and carried to each table upon the back of a lightning bolt (small $10.49, large $14.99). The eatery's equally exotic Bella Italiana sandwich stacks prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil into a leaning tower of taste ($6.99). Those searching for a tongue-dazing meal can suck down a serving of slow-smoked baby back ribs ($9.99 for half, $17.99 for full), then swath taste buds in heaping scoops of gelato, available in an array of flavors, such as blackberry, chocolate, and victory (small $2.99, large $3.99).
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 doors of Lena’s Original Pizza & Sub Shop have been open since 1945, and little has changed since then. The pizzas, sub sandwiches, and homemade pasta dishes are all still made fresh to order. One thing that has changed? Lena’s window décor—the eatery has racked up "Waltham's Best" awards for 15 years running. Built on regular, whole wheat, or thick, square, Sicilian-style crusts, Lena's pizzas can be customized with the customer's choice of toppings, though the list of 21 specialty pizzas––meatball pomodoro, bacon double cheeseburger, white buffalo––is sure to speak to more adventurous appetites. Sub sandwiches are stuffed with classic ingredients like tuna salad, pastrami, or turkey or specialty fillings like chicken margarita, steak tips, and hand-breaded haddock, and party subs can be built up to six feet long, big enough to feed 30 guests or fill one giant, oblong pinata. Of course, Lena's also has dinner covered: warm garlic bread accompanies a number of homemade pasta dishes, from chicken pesto to classic spaghetti and meatballs, and cooks fire up the charcoal grill to create marinated chicken or steak-tip dinners.