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.
Founded by longtime friends Jonathan Schwarz and Christopher Robbins, Stone Hearth Pizza builds its gourmet pies from organic, local, and sustainably produced ingredients. The casual pizzeria has expanded to six locations since opening in 2005?a pace of growth made possible by the popularity of chef and general manager Michael Ehlenfeldt?s Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas. New England craft beers complement the pizzas and pastas with a pleasantly bitter taste that reflects their conflicted attitude toward out-of-towners.
According to a review in the Boston Phoenix, Hedy Jarras opened her own Sweet Tomatoes Pizza after a summer stint working in Cape Cod for Sweet Tomatoes founder Christopher Owens. She became so enamored with the atmosphere and the food that she convinced Owens to allow her to open her own location in her hometown.
Sweet Tomatoes Pizza's recipe forgoes the traditional red sauce in favor of chunky, uncooked tomatoes. Its ingredients create an “unapologetically pungent” pie that can be adorned with more than 31 toppings, including goat cheese, capers, and kalamata olives, and the crust combines a strong backbone of oil-free dough with “the merest hint of flavorful char.” Specialty pizzas such as the Pesto Splash attracts both the olfactory and ocular systems with a thick layer of pesto and chopped fresh garlic. Accompanying the pizzas, tuna-salad, chicken-parmesan, and prosciutto di parma sandwiches round out the Italian-focused menu.
Appetito's sleek, modern interior, with its burnished wood bar and polished windows, is indicative of the contemporary sensibilities with which its kitchen interprets classic Italian fare. Handmade pastas, fresh herbs, and seasonal heirloom vegetables furnish brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. On weekends, diners can sit down to a hearty brunch dish such as the challah french toast, which oozes with strawberries and rum-splashed bananas. During the week, the dining room hums with energy generated by tables chatting amicably and digging into five styles of focaccia paninis or savory pasta dishes, such as gnocchi polloi with mascarpone.
Newton native Jonathan Glick is the creative mind behind Jonathan's Bar & Grille. He designed the menu and the physical space to be both upscale and welcoming. To that end, Jonathan juxtaposes unassuming foods such as chicken, beef, and lobster sliders with higher-end dishes such as a hand-cut Angus sirloin steak with crispy Yukon potatoes and housemade steak sauce. Brunch, lunch, and dinner plates pair nicely with cocktails. An example is the Hot & Dirty martini, which owes its heat to pepperoncini juice, Tabasco sauce, and blue cheese-stuffed olives carved into the shape of whomever is on the cover of People. Jonathan's also serves a fine selection of wines by the glass or bottle and bottled and tap beers.
Circular, red lampshades overhead and a metallic-bead room divider give the space an elegant, modern feel, the centerpiece being a large, four-sided social bar with several high-definition TVs. Live entertainment occasionally resounds throughout low-lit, high-ceilinged interior.
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.