There’s plenty to love about Boston, but until recently, much of the city’s culinary activity has been concentrated in that intellectual haven across the Charles, Cambridge. Not anymore. This fall, a few hot tables have cropped up in Boston proper, bringing a new foodie cache to the Hub.
Her Cambridge classic, Rialto, is a personal favorite, with a seasonal Italian menu that’s intensely comforting and soulful despite the amount of technical refinery in each dish (think milk-braised pork belly with silky buckwheat polenta and mushrooms or butterscotch budino with salted marcona almonds and crème fraiche). At Trade, which opened only a few weeks ago (in late October), the menu is more casual—but is no less delicious for it—with flavors that borrow inspiration from years of Jody’s personal travels around the world, with a special focus on the Mediterranean. There’s a wonderful pomegranate glazed eggplant with olive and pine nuts; fried dough with parmesan and prosciutto; and a lovely flatbread with figs and gorgonzola that comes crackly and crisp from the Woodstone gas oven.
The best dish of the night, hands down, was the baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu, provolone, and mint (pictured above), which was full of smoky, spicy notes plucked from Sicily and Greece. What looked like a small, humble dish upon arrival proved silky and rich, the perfect antidote to the blustery winds outside. And with only the tiniest missteps over the course of a fairly drawn-out meal, I left dizzied to think they’d been open only two weeks.
Up next on my radar is Sweet Cheeks, a new BBQ-driven hotspot in the Fenway area by Top Chef alumna Tiffani Faison, who’s doing her part to make sure the best ‘cue in Boston doesn’t have to come from a weekends-only sidewalk stall (for that, line up at South End Formaggio). Her doors weren’t open just yet when I was last in town, and word on the street says Jay-Z and Kanye have already beat me to the scene, but I’ll be checking it off my list soon enough. Stay tuned!
Nikki Goldstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.