Best of the New: Food
Barbecue pork pie, a Somerville speak-easy, Mission-style burritos, and the latest from Michael Schlow.
Best of the New contributors: Jenn Abelson, Ami Albernaz, Cheryl Alkon, Kara Baskin, Karen Campbell, Matt Casey, Devra First, Tim Flynn, Ethan Gilsdorf, Alice Gregory, Lucia Huntington, Katherine Hysmith, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Susan Johnston, Sheryl Julian, Joseph P. Kahn, Marni Elyse Katz, Scott Kirsner, Ann Trieger Kurland, Dan Morrell, John Powers, Sebastian Smee, Shira Springer, Tina Sutton, Rachel Travers, and Glenn Yoder
> 9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, 617-718-0249, backbarunion.com
Adjacent to its sister restaurant, Journeyman, backbar has the feeling of a speak-easy or a secret clubhouse. To reach it, head down an unglamorous, brightly lighted hallway, and into the hip room. Order from the ever-changing chalkboard menu — perhaps some spicy caramel popcorn, bread and butter, or a charcuterie platter from chef-owners Diana Kudajarova and Tse Wei Lim. Everything on the menu pairs well with drinks crafted by a team of all-star bartenders. This place is one secret worth sharing.
> 2 West Street, Boston, 617-670-0320, backdeckboston.com
Because of Mother Nature’s wildly varying moods, New Englanders can only enjoy backyard cookouts a few months of the year. Lucky for us, Back Deck in Downtown Crossing channels a carefree summer vibe year-round. You’ll find charcoal-grilled burgers, green apple coleslaw, knockwurst, and other variations on summertime staples. The Back Deck s’mores, concocted with house-made graham crackers and peanut butter marshmallow, puts a sweet twist on childhood memories of campfires and sleepovers.
BELLY WINE BAR
> 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-0968, bellywinebar.com
Here, the people behind the Blue Room and Central Bottle try to pass a passion for wine along to patrons. A quirky list of unusual varietals focuses on specific regions and producers and presents selections under headings such as “binders full of women” (the work of female winemakers, of course). To fuel the fun, chef Robert Grant serves a selection of charcuterie and salumi geared toward the hungry carnivore.
BOMA RESTAURANT + BAR
> 1415 Washington Street, Boston, 617-536-2662, bomarestaurant.com
From the exposed bricks to the grilled swordfish to the Smoking Margarita cocktail, inventive textures and colors abound in this South End newcomer. Executive chef Christopher Bussell keeps the menu’s focus on New England seafood and other local ingredients.
BRICK & MORTAR
> 567 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-491-5599, brickandmortarbar.com
This cocktail-geek version of the friendly neighborhood bar is run by a team that includes former B-Side operator Patrick Sullivan and bartender extraordinaire Misty Kalkofen. So it’s bound to have great drinks — from the refreshing Temporary Fix (gin, cassis, and lemon) to shots with names like Crush on a Stripper. Pull a stool up to the copper bar and snack on fries with duck confit and gruyere, wood-grilled crostini, and mini oyster po’ boys.
> 374 Trapelo Road, Belmont, 617-855-6325, cafe-burrito.com
Owner Jim Bramante’s coffee shop-slash-burrito bar is dedicated to the Mission-style burrito, as well as south-of-the-border delicacies like quesos a la plancha (Mexican grilled cheese) and seasonal salsas. Order the super burrito with coffee-braised beef or the pollo a la brasa with a side of homemade queso and chips. There are only 13 seats, but Bramante’s single-screen theater next door, Studio Cinema, welcomes burrito-toting moviegoers.
> 253 Washington Street, Somerville, 617-764-2180, casabrestaurant.com
The Union Square restaurant applies Latin and Caribbean flavors to the concept of tapas, yielding bright-tasting dishes like seviche, shrimp filled with yuca and wrapped in bacon, and meatballs in guava sauce. Pisco sours and caipirinhas are tremendous, too. The work of two architects turned caterers, the restaurant is stylish and sparkling, with a poppy-red and white interior — modern and romantic at once, it could be the year’s best date spot.
> 60 Beach Street, Boston, 617-542-1763
Chinatown’s defunct King Fung Garden had a serious following, so the news that operators Erwin and Doris Mei were opening a new restaurant was met with delight. Their China King doesn’t disappoint. Scallion pancakes, toothsome noodles with pork, and steamed buns are all more than worthy. But the centerpiece here is the glorious Peking duck, ordered 24 hours in advance and served in three courses: crisp skin wrapped in homemade pancakes, stir-fried meat, and soup. Continued...