DINING: BlackBostonOnline's Food Page

Welcome to BlackBostonOnline's Food page. Maryum our site Food Critic, provides her recommendations for the best dining in and around Boston. If you' have a question, would like suggestions about restaurant choices, or would like your restaurant reviewed, contact Maryum at: maryum@BlackBostonOnline.com
Don't bother

Vaugh's Fish and Chips

Spring is almost here and now is your last chance to eat, enjoy and splurge before it is time to shed those unwanted pounds. I love seafood and enjoy the variety of restaurants to choose from in Boston. With a booming seafood industry in this town, it's rare to find a fresh, clean and affordable fish restaurant without venturing towards Downtown.

With some of the more accessable restaurants such as Star Fish closing down, we have few choices left.

Luckily for us Vaughn’s Fish and Chips shines brighter than any star. This family restaurant is a true gem, and it has served the community for many years.

What exactly do I look for when I crave seafood? First and foremost, it's has to be fresh, period. "Past its best" fish is not appetizing under any circumstances. I also expect to receive a nice sized portion. Considering these two critical requirements, Vaughn’s defiantly has you covered. If you prefer your fish fried, Vaughn's is particularly adept at frying it nice and crisp!

Shrimp lovers can rejoice...the shrimp is big and full of flavor . The variety of items they serve is impressive. They even serve fried pork chops and chicken livers, which is rare for a seafood place! Also, don’t miss out on the wings .

While you wait you can enjoy looking at the pictures of family, friends, and celebrities who have all enjoyed the food at Vaughn's.

Vaughn's Fish and Chips is located on Erie Street in Dorchester.


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Some would say that pizza is the perfect fast food for any occasion. Whether it’s a quick lunch for the kids, late-night munchies, or even breakfast leftovers, it’s hard to find anything as pleasing as pizza. The challenge in this town is to find “the ultimate slice.”

All to often it’s either a matter of "This is so greasy!", "Where’s the cheese?", or "Can you heat that up a little more?" Most of my pizza outings are neither appetizing or fulfilling, unless I venture off the beating path to Cleveland Circle where Pino's Pizza reigns supreme.

As a BC undergrad, I was close enough to get a weekly (and in most cases “daily”) fix. While I may not reside in the area anymore, Pino's is still without peer and definitely worth the trip. As a matter of fact, when the urge strikes, I’ve traveled from Roxbury on a one hour lunch break through afternoon traffic just to get a slice. That should tell you how good Pino’s is.

If you like thin crust pizza, Pino’s is in a class by itself with a perfect blend of sauce and cheese (). It never ceases to amaze how a little care and attention can elevate the eating experience. Nicky and his crew display that care and attention, resulting in fresh, great-tasting pizzas.

It doesn't stop there folks. Pino's makes a world famous steak and cheese sub that will make any Philly native miss home (). Quality thin slices of steak grilled over onions (or however you like it), on the freshest rolls. This is real steak, not that dry, gummy meat that these places usually serve. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Pino's also serves a variety of pasta's, salads and lunch combinations at a reasonable price. All of Pino's dishes are made out front, in full view of the customer. With their fast and friendly service Pino's is a cut above the rest.

If you’re not willing to travel to Cleveland Circle, a strong substitute is the Boston House of Pizza on Huntington Avenue. Props to BHP for holding it down as one of Boston's oldest pizza places. It may not be the same as back in the day, but they’re still reliable for that all important slice on the go

Name: Pino's
Address: 1920 Beacon Street, Cleveland Circle (Near the movie theatre)
Phone: (617) 566-6468

Mon-Sat: 10:00am - 1am
Sun: 10:00am - 12pm

Price Range: Most entree's $5 - $10
Comments: The "best pizza in Boston" - hands down



There seems to be no end to the increasing wave of innovative restaurants invading the South End of Boston. If you love food, then that's a good thing.

In a competitive restaurant town like Boston, the key is to provide a service that somehow stands out to those looking for new and exciting dining options. Since Boston is to seafood as Texas is to barbeque, not only must seafood restaurants meet a certain standard, the restaurant must also go above and beyond the call of duty to entice the average patron.

Jasper White's Summer Shack features a traditional clam shack/cafeteria style setting that is definitely unique in this town. Recently opening in what was previously the Sheri movie theatre directly across from the Sheridan Hotel, you can order to go or stay. Skeptical? Stay, it is worth it. Here is how it works:

For starters, you get to choose from a menu that offers over 20 appetizers, grilled fish choices, and other dinner specialties. They also have sandwiches and plenty of side orders to round out your meal. Simply check off your selections and take your menu to the window to place an order (you may also place a separate order for the raw bar with the waitress). When your name is called, pick up your neatly packaged meal on a tray complete with with everything you need.

This is obviously not your typical dining establishment, and would probably a bad choice for that romantic anniversary dinner. Regardless, I really enjoyed the straight forward approach and best of all, the service was fast. As soon as your order is ready, you can pick it up (which is great if you have kids). Furthermore, anything missing in the order can be retrieved on the spot.

The atmosphere is bright and eclectic. Both the walls and furniture were dazzling and full of life. There is a laid-back, easygoing nature to the Shack and I was truly impressed with how orderly and well planned the system was executed. The set-up is efficient and remarkably calm for a place where both customers and staff are on the move.

With such a large variety of items to choose from, the Summer Shack has something for everyone. The Bermuda Fish and Crab Chowder was spicy. The Grilled Eggplant was light and flavorful. The clams were blazin' fresh and fabulous, and fried to perfection.

If you prefer a lighter meal, try the Grilled Bluefish. It's perfect. Also, having cornbread served with the meal was a refreshing switch from the typical dinner roll.

While the food was well prepared, I must applaud the effort and integrity put into making a creative and captivating environment to dine in. There is always something to say about presentation and the positive or negative effect it can have on your meal. The meal was presented in a charming and colorful manner, all the way down to the dishes it was served on. As a distinctive feature, the staff cleans the tables and floors while you eat.

Service is top caliber and the restaurant shines because of it. The staff is friendly and attentive.

As a new feature the there is a late night menu served from 11:00PM-1:00AM
Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Name: Summer Shack
Address: 10 Scotia Street (South End)
Phone: (617) 867-9955

Daily: 11:30am - 2am

Price Range: Most entree's $12 - $20
Comments: Great food backed by efficient and friendly service



The best way to know the cooking of New Orleans is to be raised there. For those of us less fortunate, a few trips to New Orleans to feast on crabs, crawfish, gumbos, bisques, grits, and redfish, will generally do the trick. Otherwise, the challenge is to find a decent Louisiana-style restaurant here at home that truly embraces the subtleties of Cajun and/or Creaole cooking.

One of the few restaurants in Boston that does justice to contemporary southern Louisiana cooking, Rouge has been a runaway success since its opening last year. One reason is the smart, uncluttered look of the dining spaces, simultaneously elegant and festive. Another is the menu. Rouge's flavorful creations reflect a modern approach to Southern and traditional American cooking -- a variety of barbecues, cleverly composed salads, and incredible desserts.

Small-scale chic has been the cachet of this sleek and intimate South End spot, just a few blocks above Massachusetts Avenue. Exposed brick, mahogany, and soft light from elegant wall lamps adorned with traditional Mardi Gras masks create the ideal New Orleans mood.

The menu is a blend of modern sophistication and Southern-inspired flavors. A star among the many fine appetizers is the New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp served on garlic toast, Hush Puppies and Smoked Trout, and the House-made Boudin Sausage. Entrées include Blackened Catfish, Knife and Fork Fried Chicken, Wild Virginian Striped Bass, and my favorite, the Barbecued Ribs. The mostly California wine list is both impressive in range and nicely organized. Service is a pleasing combination of informality and friendliness.

Dinner for two, with drinks, average in the $60-$70 range. Not bad for a South End restaurant. Overall, Rouge receives a confident .

Reservations are recommended, however, it you can get there before 6pm, it's probably not necessary.

Rouge is located at 480 Columbus Avenue, in Boston's South End.

Name: Rouge
Address: 480 Columbus Avenue (South End)
Phone: (617) 867-0600

Sun-Thurs: 5:30pm - 10:00pm
Fri-Sat: 5:30pm - 10:30pm (Bar til 1pm)
Sun: Brunch 11:00am - 3:00pm

Price Range: Most entree's $16 - $25
Comments: Southern inspired dishes in an attractive environment






Boston's local restaurants have always provided us with a rich tradition of food and family. From 1947-1983 my Great Aunt and Grandmother ran the Southern Diner in the South End. It was here that my true love and appreciation for good food began, ignited by their heavenly cooking. Similarly, we have been blessed with a history of neighborhood restaurants that consistently deliver unbelievable meals, family style, at affordable prices.

In keeping with this tradition, Grille 657 has emerged as a place with promise. Just off Dorchester's Codman Square, it serves up a variety of outstanding soul food dishes, in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

Let's break it down

First and foremost, the atmosphere sets the standard for the food to come. 657 is cozy and inviting. Rarely do you find a restaurant that gives off an instant sense of family as you walk in the door. It was refreshing and so was the food.

The steak tips were blazin' . Marinated and grilled to perfection, they're ideal for lunch. The tips were served with rice and a salad which were both fresh and tasty. All of the chicken, meat and seafood products are of the highest quality which is reflected in the presentation and taste of the entrees.

For a reasonable price, the Sunday Brunch gets you 4 choices from a select list. 657's staff is not afraid to try new and exciting dishes, prepared with flare and style. However if you are less adventurous, old time favorites such as the macaroni and cheese are a sure bet. If you want a more traditional meal, the french toast is divine.

Overall, Grille 657 receives a confident . Hat's off to the staff for a sensational meal. This restaurant is definitely making it's mark on Boston's map as an up and coming hot spot. Just in time for summer!

Grille 657 is located at 657 Washington Street in Dorchester.

Name: Grill 657
Address: 657 Washington Street (Codman Square)
Phone: (617) 825-6570
(617) 825-0900

Mon-Friday: 8:00am - 3:00pm
Sat: 8:00am - 3:30pm
Sun: Brunch 10:00am - 3:00pm

Price Range: Most entree's $5 - $10
Comments: A mouth watering variety of soul food and desserts in a relaxed Codman Square setting.



Maison Robert

Maison Robert, in the Old City Hall building downtown, continues to challenge the competition for recognition as Boston's best French restaurant. The main dining room, dotted with chandeliers and graced with 18 feet high ceilings and arch windows, was once the treasurer's office of the old City Hall.

Service is particularly good -- dismissing past concerns. If you're not familiar with French cuisine, don't worry. The waiters are knowledgeable of the menu and will take the time to explain how each meal is prepared. Dishes are mainly contemporary French (with some American), all prepared with a healthy dose of creativity.Try the grilled duck breast (have it prepared medium rare), or the Poulet du Vermont (young Vermont chicken).

The the wine list is excellent, although at eye-popping prices. If you're a fan of white wines, try the Cakebread Cellars 2000 Chardonnay. It's a great complement to most of the entrees, and is reasonably priced. Desserts are heavenly, particularly the Grand Marnier Souffle'. It takes approximately 30 minutes to prepare, so be sure to order the souffle' with the main entree.

Maison Robert is the perfect dining experience from the wonderful tasting menu, to the beautiful room to, and, most exceptionally, the knowledgeable, and friendly staff. We were treated like royalty and, after a nearly 4 hour meal, we felt like royalty. This was one of the best dining experiences in the city. I look forward to returning.
Reservations are essential.

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The Naked Fish

Boston is historically known for it’s great seafood. The Naked Fish however, puts an interesting “twist” on this concept by casting seafood in a funky Caribbean/Cuban theme. The result is an interesting mix of minimally seasoned, fresh seafood immersed in a sensual Latin aura. Simply put: The Naked Fish makes seafood sexy.

The “Naked” approach to preparing seafood involves use of a wood-fired grill with olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. This preparation method allows diners to experience the full flavor of the fish.

Aside from the "Naked" fish preparations, patrons also have the option of "Not-So-Naked" pan-fried entrées served with sauces. Offers include roasted Chilean sea bass with tomatoes, capers and kalamata olives or peppercorn tuna with a Cuban rum-cream sauce. For the less adventurous, there’s even fish and chips.
In addition to almost 20 seafood entrées on the printed menu, which changes every five to six weeks, there are four to five daily specials. The menu also features a dozen appetizers, such as Mussels Sofrito and Grilled Sugar Cane Skewered Shrimp.

Naked Fish’s food wouldn’t be complete without funky beverages, which rack up 28 percent of the concept’s sales. The restaurant offers Cuban drinks like the Mojito and the Habana Colada.

An open-kitchen design provides the diner with the opportunity to watch the chefs in action. And the interior design is straight from the art deco streets of Miami’s South Beach.

I had the mahi-mahi and it was delicious. I also shared a salad with my dining companion and it was absolutely delicious. It was a simple field greens salad but the dressing was to die for.

The staff was very friendly and upon receiving our menus, we were left with a small clipboard on our table with the specials for the day, and on the other side, the restaurants philosophy. A nice touch!

Reservations are not required for most weeknights, but I would expect weekends to be quite busy. Call ahead.

This is a great dining experience for exceptional “Cuban inspired” seafood without the traditional “Legals” approach. Expect to spend between $50 - $60 for two.

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The Merengue
156-150 Blue Hill Ave
(617) 445-5403

The Merengue Restaurant situated in the heart of Roxbury on lower Blue Hill Avenue is a "must visit" restaurant that successfully combines an appealing atmosphere, excellent food, and warm and courteous service. Although the restaurant was established in 1994, it recently moved to its stylish new location at 156-160 Blue Hill Avenue.

Upon entering, we were warmly greeted by the host who gave us the option of dining in one of two different areas of the restaurant. The front, or main dining area, includes an area for take out and delivery, while the side room provides a more private atmosphere.

An attractive surrounding of bright engaging colors adorns the walls and is supported by the paintings of many well-known artists. The sounds of salsa in the background provide a feeling of being in the Islands and complement the dining experience.

One is immediately overwhelmed at the number of selections available on the menu. The fare is Dominican, which means plenty of meat and seafood choices, so vegetarians beware. In total, there are appropriately 70 or more items to choose from.

We started off with the fried plantain (sweet) and the mashed plantains, both of which were perfectly prepared. For entries, we selected the Chuletas Encebolladas (Pork Chops and Onions), and the Chillo Entero al Gusto (Red Snapper). The snapper in particular, was prepared with a delicious spicy vinaigrette sauce. The pork chops were well seasoned with just the right flavor to compliment the Moro (Spanish Rice). Throughout the meal, service was consistent and attentive. The portions are generous, so, if you should happen to have room left, you can always try the Postre del Dia (Dessert of the Day).

In total, dinner for two with drinks came to just under $30. Not bad for a great meal in this town. In addition to dining in, you can also take out, and the Merengue also delivers. They also have a catering service for special occasions.

Visit the Merengue's website at http://www.merenguerestaurant.com/

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Keith's Place
469 Blue Hill Avenue
(617) 427-7899

Keith's Place Restaurant and Catering, situated in the heart of the Grove Hall section of Dorchester has become a warm and cozy place for friends and loved ones to gather over a scrumptious home cooked meal. Keith's Place, which has become nationally acclaimed for specialties such as Sweet Potato Pancakes and their one-of-a-kind Omelets was one of the original businesses that ignited the rebirth of Grove Hall over five years ago.

The owner, Cheryl Straughter started her restaurant eight years ago in a small storefront on Blue Hill Avenue just down the street from her current location. She named the restaurant after her son Keith, and as a result of it's growth, obtained the current, larger location at 469 Blue Hill Avenue. Today, Keith's Place is the only full-service restaurant in Grove Hall.

Stop in for lunch on any given day and experience such lunch favorites as Golden Fried Catfish, a Hot Stuffed Shrimp Wrap or Bar-B-Que Beef Ribs with sides of Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, and a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Wash it all down with the house specialty, a cool refreshing "Keith's Krush", and finish the meal with a slice of delightful Sweet Potato Pie.

Don't miss the wonderful Sunday Brunch, which features an assortment of Cheryl's specials, some of which have included Southern Fried Porgies, Banana Pecan Pancakes, the Ultimate Veggie Omelet, Wild Blueberry French Toast, Cajun Salmon Cakes, homemade Fish Hash and "Sizzlin" Sirloin Steak Tips. Brunch has become so popular you'll have to get there early or wait in line for a table.

Make sure you stop by and bring your friends for the good Old Fashioned Southern "Fish Fry" for lunch every Friday. Because Keith's uses only fresh fish, the menu changes each week with the market. Past offerings have included Porgies, Catfish, Whiting, Bass, Croakers, Red Snapper, Haddock, Corn-on-the-cob, Fried Okra and Hushpuppies.

The Summer Jazz and Fish Fry event on Friday nights was very successful this year. The shows featured local talent and were held outside in the park beside the restaurant. The Fish Fry ran from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. If you missed it this year, you'll have a chance to enjoy it when it starts again next summer. Cheryl would like to thank all of you who participated.

Keith's Place also provides catering services for functions such as business meetings, weddings, birthday parties, dinner parties and various other events. Their catering talents have provided services ranging from a private reception for the Mayor's office to dinner for celebrity Kirk Franklin. Please note that Keith's Place serves no Pork Products.

Keith's Place received the prestigious Phantom Gourmet's Hidden Jewel Award in March of this year and was also featured on Channel 5's evening edition of Chronicle as one of the Best Local Restaurants around New England.

As Cheryl like's to say, "Come in with an Appetite, and Leave with a Smile".

Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday - 6:30am to 2:00pm, Saturdays - 7:00am to 2:00pm, Sundays 7:00am to 3:00pm (breakfast only).

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327 Newbury Street
(617) 351.2500

Looking for a terrific meal, exceptional service, and great atmosphere? Make your way over to Sonsie on Newbury Street.

Sonsie offers a flavorful and eclectic menu in a relaxed atmosphere with a great view of Newbury Street. The dishes are basic bistro and feature an eclectic menu that includes Northern Italian pasta dishes and American specialties.

Lunch, brunch and dinner are available seven days a week featuring award-wining Chef Bill Poirier's nationally acclaimed seasonal menu. Highlights on the menu include Grilled Salmon with Filo Baked Asparagus, Seared Sea Scallops and Crab Cakes, Poached Halibut and Pan Roast Lobster, and my favorite, the Classic Steak Au Poivre. And no meal is complete with out a sampling of their award-winning Best of Boston Chocolate Bread Pudding.

The atmosphere at Sonsie is can best be described as…noisy and upscale. The facility is contemporary and lively and possibly the premier hangout spot for the Newbury Street elite as well as those who want to meet them. The mahogany bar serves the best martinis in town in addition to adding to the overall ambience of the restaurant. During warm-weather months, the entire front of Sonsie becomes an open-air café so everybody can keep an eye on who's promenading along chic Newbury.

The Red Room Lounge, located downstairs at Sonsie, adds another layer to the restaurant. Classic cocktails are served in the cozy European lounge with deep leather chairs and sofas from 7 pm to 1 am, Wednesday through Saturdays.

On weekends, Sonsie is crowded elbow-to-elbow, so reservations are highly suggested. Carryout is available. Entrances and walkways are wheelchair friendly. Parking can be arranged for customers.

Note to Guys: Sonsie fits the bill for that "special occasion" dinner.

Visit Sonsie on the web at: www.SonsieBoston.com/

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Jake's Boss BBQ
3492 Washington St.
Jamaica Plain
(617) 983-3701

Upon entering Jake's Boss BBQ in Jamaica Plain, the first thing that catches your attention is the huge torso of a bull that appears to be crashing through the restaurant's back wall. It's a short-lived diversion, as the smell of slow-cooked, smoked barbecue takes control of your hunger.

Cooked over hard woods and special fruit woods, Jake's uses a special blend of herbs and spices to add a tender and intoxicating flavor to it's meats. If you have ever had meat cooked long and slow and experienced fall-off-the-bone tenderness and distinctive hickory flavor, you can begin to understand why Jake's BBQ is legendary.

Choose from BBQ chicken, "Oink" ribs, or "Moo" ribs, sliced pork and brisket, rib tips, and wings. Add to that, one of Jake's many sides which include "Miss Eva's rice", homemade Mac-N-Cheese made with 3 different cheeses
, Sweet Mashed Potatoes, Collard Greens, and Potato Salad.

If you can't make up your mind, try one of Jake's combos. The Boss's Plate combo includes smoked chicken, ribs, chopped BBQ, brisket, and Sausage. For the hardy appetite, try one of Jake's combo boxes that are designed to feed 4, 6, or 8 people.

Jake's is also one of only a few restaurants in the area to offer deep fried turkeys. Particularly popular around the holiday seasons, plan to place your order at least two days in advance for this delicious specialty.

If you've got a taste for good BBQ, get to Jake's in Jamaica Plain. After you've enjoyed his "que" give him the "Jake Shake" (shake your head in approval).

Delivery is available with a minimum $15 order. Jake's is also available for catering.


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House of Blues Gospel Brunch
96 Winthrop St.
Cambridge, Mass.
(617) 497-2229

Great Southern style food, soul-stiring gospel music, and a Sunday morning sermon. Sound like an unusual combination? It is, and it's called the House of Blues Gospel Brunch.

The Cambridge establishment, long known for it's showcase for Blues greats, has become a popular Sunday morning retreat for those needing both spiritual and nutritional nourishment.

All guests are seated in the upstairs room (which is typically used for concerts), in a series of long tables. It gets a little tight at times, but it's an opportunity to meet those next to you. The buffet, which is a combination of down-home Southern-style food and New Orleans favorites, consists of entrees such as:

Cheese Grits
Country Gravy
Scrambled Eggs
Steamship Round of Beef
Sausage Links
Fried Catbites
BBQ Chicken Legs
Cajun Frittata
Bread Pudding
Collard Greens
Fresh Fruit
French Toast
Linguini Salad
Buttermilk Biscuits
Jalapeño Corn Bread
Carrot Salad
Squash Ala Florance
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Pecan Rice

While in the mist of eating all this good food, your host for the morning begins with a prayer, and then introduces this week's gospel group. Each week the brunch features a different gospel group from a local church. Typically, they do rock the house!

It's a great experience, and a fun way to enjoy a Sunday morning. Tickets (which go quickly) must be purchased in advance. There are three seatings to choose from: 10am, 12 noon, or 2pm. You can also walk in without a reservation, for the second floor, which has the same great buffet choices, but without the live music. You can however, view the music from several large TV monitors.

Visit the House of Blue's website at http://www.hob.com/

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