Prezza Presses On
The North End’s Prezza reopens to well-deserved fanfare.
February 25, 2013
Prezza uses about 100 pounds of seafood— like this crispy shrimp appetizer—per week.
Judging from the see-and-be-seen crowd at Prezza, Boston is thrilled to have this North End favorite back in rotation. The Italian eatery closed in July after a fire did about $350,000 worth of damage. Six months later it reopened with a rebuilt kitchen, refreshed seating, and a happening array of guests. On a winter night just after reopening, the bar was packed with Celtics fans watching the game, including PR spinmaster George Regan. Eric Papachristos and Sean Griffing of Trade restaurant dined in one of the cozy booths, as did sassy Twilight boutique owner Alison Barnard.
Opening night saw Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger dining on chef/owner Anthony Caturano’s handmade pastas and Italian specialties like wood-grilled squid and octopus with braised white beans, and a heavenly Burrata with basil pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes. We had several favorites on the pasta menu, including the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and a whole egg yolk that runs deliciously when you punch through the pouch. The Bolognese with tagliatelle has a touch of rich, earthy porcini cream in the sauce, and the pasta dough includes a dash of nutmeg for a sweet nuttiness. Try the white chocolate bread pudding for dessert, if you have a smidge of room. It’s easy to eat like an athlete here, and the service is friendly and attentive. While Mayor Menino is a fan, Prezza often draws the crowd of national celebrities filming in the city, such as Donnie Wahlberg, Goldie Hawn, Casey Affleck, and funnyman Seth MacFarlane. Caturano has been called the Ernest Hemingway of Boston chefs for his passion for big- and small-game hunting. But it could just as easily be for the masterpiece he sets upon each plate. 24 Fleet St., 617-227-1577
photography by Andy Ryan
Shop a Virtual Farmers’ Market
Find aged goat cheese, Georgia peaches, and more at a new online farmstand.
October 09, 2012
Balakian Farms blended organic heirloom tomatoes
For those Bostonians too busy to spend an afternoon meandering around their local greenmarket, America’s Farmstand, the first-ever virtual farmers’ market, is the answer to your farm-to-table prayers.
The company grew out of founder Todd Greenfield's hope to bring artisanal, organic produce and products from family-run farms to a wider audience across America. “I found myself asking farmers, ‘What if?’ What if there were a way to get your vegetables, fruits, cheeses, organic meats, and other fresh foods directly to the people who want them, rather than having them lose freshness traveling to—and sitting in—warehouses for days before being transported to supermarkets?” said Greenfield.
Surf the site today and you'll find fresh-from-Georgia Pearson Farm peaches, Balakian Farms blended organic heirloom tomatoes, New England Provisions Maine lobsters, Wood Homestead maple syrup from the Adirondacks, aged goat cheese from the Hudson Valley’s Coach Farm, and more. Many of the items offered are fair-trade or gluten-free, two things Greenfield is passionate about.
Hard-to-Find Boutique Cigars
Forget size—Bostonians are looking for rare boutique cigars.
October 08, 2012
Blame it on Sir Winston Churchill, rarely seen without a robust cigar, or modern-day hip-hop stars and their hazy entourages: Many believe the bigger the cigar, the bigger the man. Not true, says Stephen Willett, owner of the 142-year-old L.J. Peretti Company in Boston, who oversees a $1 million cigar inventory. “Gentlemen don’t smoke thick cigars, in my opinion.” He notes the popularity of big, strong cigars—usually Gigantes or Presidentes with ring gauges nearing 60, or an inch—among his younger clients, but says a true cigar aficionado knows better. Thinner cigars (with a ring gauge closer to 42) are more flavorful because you taste more of the wrapper leaf as it burns.
These days knowledgeable Bostonians are preoccupied with the quality of the tobacco and brands that are focused on small-batch production. Charissa Rohde, director of operations at Boston’s Cigar Masters, notes, “Our customers are discerning and are more interested in the hard-to-get brands, such as Tatuaje and Regius.” Many of those brands are returning to the traditional, Cuban box-press style of rolling cigars, which gives them a square shape. While round-barrelled cigars can be more comfortable to smoke, these hand-rolled box-press cigars can allow for a more consistent flavor.
When it comes to choosing a cigar, many factors come into play: types of tobacco leaves, region, fermentation, aging, and more. The similarities to Scotch production make the pairing a natural. “It’s important to choose the right cigar with the right Scotch,” stresses Willett, who likes the peatiness of an Islay malt like Laphroaig, because it is assertive enough to stand up to the flavor of a cigar. Look for his new favorite to be released later this year: Arturo Fuente’s Casa de Cuba, a spicy-sweet choice in three sizes to please all from hip-hop hopefuls to gourmand connoisseurs. Cigar Masters, 745 Boylston St., 617-266-4400. L.J. Peretti Company, 2½ Park Sq., 617-482-0218.
photography by seth olenick
Chef Bill Brodsky makes his highly anticipated return to the kitchen with his new Boston restaurant.
September 03, 2012
It’s never easy to watch a beloved chef leave the restaurant he fostered into an award-winning establishment. More than a year ago, chef Bill Brodsky stepped away from the kitchen at Twenty-Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich after 10 years as executive chef and five years as executive chef and beverage director. We knew his next step would be something big, and he has not disappointed. Now the revered chef is making his Boston debut with City Landing on Long Wharf (in the former Sel de la Terre spot). Having opened this summer, City Landing brings Brodsky’s contemporary American cuisine—like the spinach and ricotta farmhouse dumpling with Parmesan, mushrooms, and artichoke crisps pictured here—and his flair for flawless service to a new crowd of loyal diners.
Brodsky worked with local architect Stephen Sousa of Sousa Design Architects to create a more accessible look for the restaurant. The space will now have a vibrant, airy ambiance, with softly lit sconces set into shimmering mosaic tile, painted columns, and sunny green and blue accents. The Newton resident and The Culinary Institute of America alum crafted a menu that appeals both to diners who want a food “challenge” and to those who want something more approachable. Brodsky included items such as hoisin barbecued tuna and mini lobster rolls. The revamped restaurant will offer “bar crumbs,” a sampling of three small plates, such as hoisin and chile glazed yakitori-style meatballs, that changes each night. Stop by for lunch or dinner, or an after-work cocktail on the 30-seat patio this fall. 255 State St., 617-725-0305; citylanding.com
—PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF CITY LANDING
Drink This: A Sparkling Lemon Fizz
Queen of the catered affair, Holly Safford dishes on her favorite sparkler.
August 20, 2012
Holly Safford's Lemon Fizz
1 ounce Ketel One Citroen vodka
Pour vodka and limoncello into the bottom of a flute. Top with chilled Prosecco and garnish with lemon twist.
Making memories is Holly Safford’s number one priority at The Catered Affair, the 33-year-old business that has grown beyond her wildest dreams. “I love that each day, each event, each client is so different. There’s not a moment of boredom,” she says. As the consummate tastemaker behind the Boston Public Library foodservice operation, she and her staff are responsible for delectable dishes, homemade desserts, and even afternoon tea fare at The Courtyard Restaurant and MapRoom Café. The only thing missing was the ability for the famed historic library’s visitors to wash it all down with a drink.
“When you have a restaurant as beautifully designed as The Courtyard, stepping foot in the space immediately feels like a special occasion to enjoy a glass of wine,” Safford explains. With the recent addition of a liquor license, Safford’s patrons will now be able to relax and unwind at one of the prettiest—and most tucked away—spots in the city.
Safford is behind all types of events, from nonprofit galas to birthday celebrations, and says specialty drinks have become an increasingly important part of the process. “It’s become an ever bigger part of our repertoire,” not just for weddings anymore. “It delights the host to have a cocktail with special meaning or to match the event theme.”
One such special event—a bat mitzvah Safford attended as both guest and caterer—resulted in her favorite drink, the Lemon Fizz, a bubbly blend of Prosecco, citrus vodka, tart-but-sweet limoncello, and a lemon twist. Her team of talented mixologists developed a variety of recipes, but the winning cocktail was what Safford describes as “sensational, light, delicious, and just what my palate craved.” As someone who has spent her career perfecting the art of events, she says of the specialty cocktail: “It’s perfect for arrival, as it opens the taste buds, but it also takes the stress out of what to order at the bar–guests don’t have to make a decision!”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM BRINSON; STYLING BY ED GABRIELS FOR HALLEY RESOURCES
A Guide to Boston Nightlife
Where to go and what to do on the prime nights of the week.
August 20, 2012
Empire Asian Restaurant & Lounge
Tuesday: The Hawthorne
This early in the week, you really should be at home. But since you can’t resist, why not go somewhere that feels like a glamorous penthouse? Reborn as The Hawthorne, the former Foundation Lounge was made-over by designers Alison and Stephen Sheffield, who filled the space with high-end furnishings (Philippe Starck’s Masters chairs in bold orange, ArneJacobsen’s Series 7 chair) typically reserved for the home. Original ar work and curio-filled shelves enhance the effect, as do the painstakingly handcrafted cocktails. (No surprise, given that bar director and co-owner Jackson Cannon, co-owner Garrett Harker, and executive chef Jeremy Sewall are also connected to cocktail destination Eastern Standard a few steps away.) At just 88 seats, it’s private-feeling, more loungey than clubby, and intimate; 30-something couples nuzzle on plush settees, high-tech venture capitalists reserve the Stone Room, while local cocktail connoisseurs and restaurant industry veterans can be spotted frequently at the bar. 500A Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9150
Prime prowl hours: 9 pm to close
Go-to goodies: Deviled eggs with crispy prosciutto and cornichons or house-made cocktail-flavored French macarons, like the Dark and Stormy and Old Fashioned
Posh pour: Krug Clos du Mesnil ($1,175/bottle)
Behind the curtain: Reserve the Stone Room, with a dedicated bar and bartender
VIP speed dial: Sarah Kate Ragsdale, Guest Relations manager
Wednesday: Legal Harborside Rooftop Bar
What better way to get over the hump than with the city’s best waterfront bar? On weekdays, the open-air rooftop of Legal Sea Foods’ flagship restaurant, designed by Atlanta-based The Johnson Studio (which also conceived the instantly popular rooftop bar at Chicago’s Wit hotel), teems with a post-work, 30s and 40s crowd rather than the noisier weekend revelers. Where the run-down restaurant Jimmy’s Harborside once dished out “traditional” fare to tourists, financiers from State Street now trade suit jackets for glasses of Grenache and mingle with architects and decorators shaking off a long day at the nearby Boston Design Center. They linger into dinner time and beyond, and no one blames them. It’s hard to pry yourself away from the copper-clad fireplace, the plates of über-fresh sashimi and maki, and the chance to talk yachts with owners who dock on Liberty Wharf for seafood and Champagne. 270 Northern Avenue, 617-477- 2900
Prime prowl hours: 6:30 pm to 10 pm
Go-to goodies: 124-piece sushi boat with chef’s choice of maki, nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls
Posh pour: 2000 Dom Pérignon ($145)
Behind the curtain: Reserve the East Deck for a bird’s-eye view when your favorite acts are at the Bank of America Pavilion
VIP speed dial: General manager Justin Lisonbee
Thursday: Empire Asian Restaurant & Lounge
Empire, Fan Pier’s newest and biggest destination, brilliantly bridges the gap between work week and weekend. Seaport convention-goers come early, but quickly give way to hordes of well-heeled, well-dressed groups of young marketing executives and fashion industry types in their late 20s and 30s; Hervé Léger bandage dresses, peep-toe platforms, and lash extensions, while not mandatory, are de rigueur. With a giant menu of shareable plates and cocktails inspired by China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia (Think Red Lantern Restaurant & Lounge meets Myers + Chang), the hotspot delivers a decidedly girl’s night out vibe, with prime people-watching and the occasional local celeb thrown in for entertainment. Sox baron John Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, for example, were spotted at the Empire opening, as were pitcher Josh Beckett and the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. While Empire is still waiting on its DJ license at press time, expect to see stiletto-wearing crowds bouncing in the restaurant’s expansive bar soon. One Marina Park Drive, 617-295-0001
Prime prowl hours: Between 7 and 9 pm for dinner and 10 pm for the lounge
Go-to goodies: Tuna tartare
Posh pour: Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir, $445
Behind the curtain: Three private dining rooms can be divided or combined to accommodate intimate dinners and large events with a dedicated bar
VIP speed dial: Johnny Cammarata, Director of VIP Services
Friday: Emerald Lounge
Blame state blue laws for Boston clubs’ generally crummy bottle-service experience: Patrons aren’t permitted to pour their own drinks in the Hub, forcing staffers to shuttle magnums back and forth to tables for every top-off. To preserve the ritual glitz, this glowing ultralounge in the Theater District’s new Revere Hotel delivers the goods to patrons in gorgeous custom-made silver lockers, which servers graciously tend throughout the night. That’s hardly the most glam touch, however. The club’s pricey LED lighting system can change into 16 million (yes, million) combinations and pulse in concert with the $500,000 sound system by Infinite, which has outfitted hot properties by Gansevoort, Morgans Hotel Group, and the Palms Casino Resort. Clad in black patent leather, mirrors, and neon LED lights, the club’s vibe is a late- ’80s party, attended by fedora-wearing aspiring actresses from nearby Emerson and young Middle Eastern magnates living at The Ritz-Carlton or nearby The Residences at the W with cash to burn. From Wednesday to Sunday, a rotating lineup of hot, local DJs keep the energy extra high. Revere Hotel, 200 Stuart St., 800-395-7046
Prime prowl hours: 9 pm to 2 am
Go-to goodie: Orange-glazed duck confit spring rolls with chiligarlic sauce
Posh pour: Table service with a magnum each of Belvedere Unfiltered and Armand de Brignac Champagne ($1,600)
Behind the curtain: Reserve the “secret” interior bar Ruby for groups of up to 30. It’s also open to guests in the know...
VIP speed dial: General manager Aggelos Panagopoulos
Saturday: Gem Restaurant & Lounge
Taking inspiration exclusive English supper clubs, this sister restaurant to Empire, Shrine, High Rollers, Scorpion Bar, The Estate, and Red Lantern has an entirely different look and feel: a little racy, a little gothic, with fringed lampshades, rich damask upholstery, and carved quatrefoil patterns on the doors. The crowd skews younger than at Gem’s siblings, and it’s at its lively best on Saturday nights, when beautiful, twenty-something internationals and slicked-back Financial District movers and shakers pour in to hear local star DJs (the stunning Liz Ladoux, the ever-popular DJ Uptown) spin in the Club Room. You might spot a celeb or two—Corinne Grousbeck threw a party here for husband Wyc, a Celtics VIP, not long ago—but then again, it’s hard to tell who’s who among the dressed-to-kill crowd in the sexy, moody lighting. Mystery, it seems, is part of Gem’s intrigue. 42 Province St., 617-482-1213
Prime prowl hours: 11 pm to close
Go-to goodie: Tater tots with green onion and Russian dressing
Posh pour: ’08 bottle of Opus One ($350)
Behind the curtain: Book a table in the Club Room to enjoy the incredible sound system
VIP speed dial: Christie Leigh Bellany for private dining; Johnny Cammarata for VIP service
Todd English's Favorite Cocktail
English shares the recipe for his signature tequila cocktail.
June 25, 2012
Montaigne highball, Baccarat ($110)
You might find him sipping his version of The Rainmaker on the porch of The Summer House on Nantucket or while holding up the bar at the end of a long night at the newly reopened Olives in Charlestown, as tequila is Todd English’s go-to spirit. This signature cocktail is inspired by his new line of infused tequilas, set to release this summer. “I love to make good things happen when I can—make it rain,” English says. “So The Rainmaker is a play on having fun, whether it’s raining money or happiness. In my case, it’s usually both,” he jokes. Using Don Julio Blanco for its light body, citrus notes, and bright (not too aged) finish, English adds peak-season strawberries and fresh jalapeños, or he makes a preserve out of the two. “It’s a nice balance of sweet with a touch of heat to the back of your palate,” he says. He pairs it with a taco, his lobster guacamole, or grilled fish. Arriba!
Todd English’s Rainmaker
1 1 ⁄2 oz. Don Julio Blanco
1 1⁄2 oz. fresh strawberry jalapeño preserves
1⁄2 oz. fresh lime juice
1⁄4 oz. agave nectar In a shaker, combine tequila, lime juice, strawberry jalapeño preserves, and agave; shake hard.
Pour into a highball glass and serve.
Money umbrella optional.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM BRINSON
ORIGAMI ART BY GABRIEL WILLOW
STYLING BY MARIANA VELÁSQUEZ FOR BIG LEO PRODUCTIONS
Boozy Floats at The Met Back Bay
The classic American eatery gives a childhood favorite an adult kick.
May 01, 2012
Recapture the spirit and flavor of childhood with a grown-up version of a root beer float. The Met Back Bay offers a twist on the traditional ice cream parlor drink with its inventive Met Root Float, made with Root spirit, house-made Cracker Jack ice cream, orange vodka, house-made vanilla syrup, and rimmed with crushed, salted peanuts.
Root, which is made in California by Philadelphia-based artists collective Art in the Age and just recently became available in Boston, is a certified organic, 80-proof dark spirit based on the recipe that became root beer. Its retro flavor comes from 13 different spices and herbs, including birch bark, cinnamon, cardamom, and anise.
"I reinvent a lot of the classics at our restaurants, and since root beer floats were a childhood tradition of mine, it only made sense to put one on our menu with the warmer weather approaching," says Todd Winer, the culinary director at The Met Back Bay. "Root has a beautiful earthy and herbal flavor to it, and I wanted to balance that with some other nostalgic novelties like the sweetness of house-made Cracker Jack ice cream and the savory salted peanut rim." So indulge a little this spring and enjoy this refreshing salty-sweet cocktail while basking in the sun on the restaurant's patio. 279 Dartmouth St., 617-267-0451
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY TIEULI
Sophisticated Sips at The Hawthorne
Kenmore Square’s reputation as a destination for delicious craft cocktails is affirmed with the opening of The Hawthorne
March 26, 2012
The days when seedy watering holes like the Rathskeller (aka The Rat) dominated Kenmore Square become even more distant with Hotel Commonwealth’s newest addition. Cocktail czar Jackson Cannon, bar director of Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar, has opened his own intimate watering hole, The Hawthorne. “When I travel the world for cocktails I am often stuck in uncomfortable bars,” says Cannon, who named his new boîte after the cocktail strainer of the same name. “I knew I wanted The Hawthorne to be friendly to the process of drink making.”
In addition to renovating the space, Cannon worked with interior designers Alison and Stephen Sheffield to create an atmosphere that feels like a stylish dinner party. The Sheffields complemented a palette of rich neutrals with high-back chairs in an elegant navy blue, tasteful zebra-print sofas, and more than 50 pieces of artwork. A hostess leads you to your seat, whether it is at the 18-seat marble-topped bar or in the stone room for drinks and small bites. Service is paramount at The Hawthorne, and instead of being squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder at a busy bar, you’ll have time to take in the comprehensive cocktail menu and even discuss it with the bartenders.
Enjoy a Dutch Oven (made with Bols Genever gin, absinthe, and bitters) or a Hanky Panky (with gin, fernet, and vermouth) while snacking on fresh-baked soft pretzels or a steak salad with Stilton. And when the weather gets warmer, take your drinks outside as The Hawthorne opens its patio. 500A Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9150.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID KATZ
Fromage Find: The Cheese Shop of Concord
The shop debuts new French cheeses that can’t be found anywhere else in New England.
March 12, 2012
The Cheese Shop of Concord proprietor Peter Lovis
For the past 45 years, The Cheese Shop of Concord has been a haven for Boston area cheese-lovers, and a leading purveyor of rare and imported cheeses. (Last year the shop made headlines when it wheeled a 400-pound Northern Italian cheese through its doors.) As such, it comes as no surprise that the shop was first in line to become the exclusive New England merchant for French cheese exporter Xavier David Fromages Affines.
Cheeses recently arrived from the Xavier David include a pungent Roquefort, camembert from Normandy, creamy Fourme d’Ambert (one the oldest cheeses in France), the Alsatian Tomme Fermiere, a superb Comté, and a stinky, runny Époisses cheese from the Cote d’Or.
To find the perfect wine to pair with your French cheese, make use of the shop’s free wine consultations. Pick a wine, or describe one you have at home, and a wine expert will help you choose a cheese. You can also start by choosing a cheese (150 types are available) and then get a recommended wine, beer or cider to pair with it.
In addition to cheeses from Xavier David, shop owner Peter Lovis also recommends a Tasmanian Roaring Forties Blue cheese and Moliterno al Tartufo, an aged black truffle oil-injected Sardinian cheese. If that doesn’t get you to the shop’s doorstep, nothing will. 29 Walden St., Concord, 978-369-5778