Bob Dobalina's Profile

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Northern Italian early dinner with toddler/baby

Gran Gusto would be my pick, if by Northern Italian, you mean a non-red sauce place. I also like L'impasto but GG is better for the kids. And it's on the way home in Huron Village. And we had our toddler's first birthday lunch there.

about 4 hours ago
Bob Dobalina in Greater Boston Area

40th bday dinner?

What about that new place at Assembly Square?

40th bday dinner?

I had my 40th birthday at Santarpio's and hey, also convenient to Logan!

Of course with people flying in, you'll want to do a catered event at home, but might be fun to have the surprise at Santarpio's.

ISO Halibut - either retail or restaurant

I have been buying halibut regularly at Whole Foods for months - filets and steaks.

First trip to Boston

Sox fans tend to only react negatively toward division opponents and the Mets.

First trip to Boston

You all may be right about the timing. The clams always seem to have a bit more funk to them than the oysters, but I am happy to be proven wrong.

First trip to Boston

You might look into chartering a boat to watch the fireworks. Expensive, but not crowded and your pop can take it easy onboard.

Foodwise, if you are near Faneuil Hall or the Freedom Trail on a Thursday or Friday at lunchtime, go to the Haymarket and look for the oyster guy at the end of the alley just past the Bell in Hand - he's in the street, cash only, stand in the street, cheap fresh-shucked oysters (skip the clams), be judicious if a couple smell a bit off, use the lemons and hot sauce if you prefer, and then retire to the Union Oyster House or other local pub for a beer or something stronger if you were not so judicious. A chowder may also be in order. The oyster guy is definitely not in Zagat's.

Favorites from Watertown Markets?

I like Arax for the honey selection, the yogurts, the cookies, fruit when seasonal is nearly always peak, bags of herbs at the cash register, melons of occasional variety that I have not seen.

Sevan for whatever reason has always rubbed me the wrong way. I prefer the relative informality and lived-in feel of Arax.

Couple of other places to put on your radar: Fastachi ... For the CORN NUTS! Half the price of what you can get at WF and housemade.

And don't forget Nick the Butcher in the Coolidge Variety store across from the Deluxe Town Diner. I don't get there as often as I used to, but my memory is that he stocked nice cuts at decent prices, and more than happy to cut to order.

Also Tabrizi near Watertown Square for Iranian cookies of different shapes and sizes. They also have some different foods that the other shops don't have - whoever was looking for the rose Harissa might consider popping in there.

Linda's donuts also worth a visit, esp. when Sofra is mobbed and stacked with pushy yuppies. A nice cake donut'll keep ya honest.

Iced coffee on Nitro?

Told wife about this drink at Dwelltime. She asked, "is it 9 dollars and a 90 minute process?" 'Nuff said.

Iced coffee on Nitro?

Omg that's awful

Best price in Boston on Fernet-Branca?

Got Fernet today at Cirace in the North End for $22.99. Also had the Menta for the same price. Pretty good deal. Picked up the Vecchio amaro as well for $21.99.

Popular (and Successful) vs. Good

I'll admit - I have not been to the North End on a weekend night in probably a decade - but I am guessing that is not the best time to experience this "European like neighborhood." :)

Judging by the yuppies I see streaming out of the North End on weekday mornings (when I am headed in to Firicano's for a haircut), the old Boston neighborhood is well on its way out.

2 days in Boston with 12-13 yr olds, what eateries not to miss?

There is really nothing to recommend at Quincy Market - it is the equivalent of the mall food court.

Go to Galleria Umberto for slices at lunchtime (although you have to get there early) If not, Pizzeria Regina is close by.

Also recommend James Hook for lobster rolls, etc. rather than Yankee Lobster, which is very far away from where you'll be. You could also try Neptune Oyster for the mollusks.

There is no Thai or Indian in the downtown area worth having.

Popular (and Successful) vs. Good

Should I just link to the B&G lobster roll thread?

There, I did it.

Popular (and Successful) vs. Good

I actually feel this way about pretty much every dining option in Davis Square proper. One of the most overrated collection of restaurants in one area - Diva, Joshua, Painted Burro, Out of the Blue, Five Horses, Orleans, Foundry - none of these places is better than average, at best.

Having said that, have you been to the Painted Burro recently? I completely agree with you about their food in the beginning, but was pleasantly surprised by the chow when I went there on a couple of recent occasions. Not groundbreaking by any means, but it was better than before.

Popular (and Successful) vs. Good

I would disagree - Most people *think* they are going there to taste their food. It's just that they have a hackneyed carnival fun house understanding of what Eye-talian food tastes like.

June 2015 Openings and Closings

Per user hiddenboston's blog, - Daily Table is now open for business in Dorchester.

Seems like a chowhound place to me.

The Daily Table - prepared meals from salvaged ingredients

Bumping this thread and will cross-post to June openings -

Per user hiddenboston's blog, - Daily Table is now open for business in Dorchester.

Wegman's Faux Pas [Moved from Boston]

The corn is totally different than picking better berries. The condition of the corn is completely hidden by the husk - it could be rotten or worse, there could be a big caterpillar in there!

The berries are completely open - picking the nicer berries leaves some packages with just marginal berries or worse. It's the commons problem.

Jun 06, 2015
Bob Dobalina in Not About Food

KO Pies- Southie Building dispute

That's nice and all, but KO needs to hire a lawyer.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Heh no worries - I did a double take with that wrapped tuna too. But the sheen I've seen is on the filleted fish too.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Btw, I should have put a wink after that comment. Not trying to screw with people's livelihoods here.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Hi Laura - really appreciate your comments and feedback.

Doing my own research, I wonder if it was how this particular fish was butchered, and that it came in contact with the skin. Perhaps the fisherman in this case was not aware of this issue and the need to be careful.

And as I said above though, besides making the baby cry and pull frantically at her tongue for a minute, everyone was fine and wiser for the experience, so no harm no foul. :). (And she started walking in earnest today for the first time, so perhaps that jarred her out of her complacency.)

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

So the plot thickens -

Found this comment on a cached website: "...Skate wing is pretty sustainable — it’s easy to catch, and best processed by the person fishing for it, and right away. It’s a little unusual in stores because most boats aren’t looking for skate. Since it’s usually a by-catch, the boat isn’t always prepared to do the quick processing that skate needs to prevent the neurotoxin in the skin from seeping into the flesh."

There are also comments on the beyondsalmon blog post referenced above that mention the neurotoxin in skate -

Neurotoxin sounds ... dangerous.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Thanks for that advice - I called them to let them know. They offered a refund, but whatever. We are none the worse for wear. Said they would check with Foley.

Here is a great comment about skate on this blog:

The whole comment is copied below, but the on-topic part: "We called ray "itchyfish" as we sometimes would get itchy lips as children when eating ray My mother said that was a sign that it was fresh."


"Hi my name is Thomas. I grew up in Ireland and ate ray at least every other week. We ate fish at least twice a week. I lived in a suburb on the north side of Dublin but my parents came from an old fishing town called Ringsend. Ringsend was the end of the Dublin Quays,on the river Liffy,were the fishing trawlers used to tie up and unload their catch. When the trawlers unloaded their catch they would remove from the boxes the Ray(skate) and give or sell to the poor people of Ringsend, as it was regarded by the customers in Dublin as a trash fish(bottom feeder) so it was used as packing to protect the Salmon, Cod,Sole and other fish that would fetch a better price. This is the reason Ringsend picked up the derogatory name of "Raytown". The name was used to class the people of Ringsend as poor and bad taste. The irony is that nowadays Ray is one of the most expensive and hard to get fish. My mother thought me how to cook and we only cooked ray one of two ways. The first and most regular way was to coat in seasoned flour and pan fry in lard until the ends of the ray curl and are crispy. The second way was only for my dad. The ray would be pan fried but not so crispy then removed from the pan leaving a nice fond behind. My mother would then add a roughly sliced onion some butter and sweat until softened. She would the add a cup or two of water stir and put the ray back on the onions cover and simmer for 8-10 mins. The result was a nice fish/onion sauce that was poured over the plated ray. ***We called ray "itchyfish" as we sometimes would get itchy lips as children when eating ray My mother said that was a sign that it was fresh.*** In Dublin you could get two cuts of ray one was Long and the other Flat. The Long ray was cut from the middle of the large Ray wings this,while being a more slender cut,was much thicker. This allowed for better cooking of the wings by making the pieces more uniform in thickness. We also referred to bad ray as "Pissy Fish". After reading your blog this is obviously explained by the facts on the unique bodily functions of the ray. By the way the Belgians also love ray and cook it in a caper butter sauce. Monk fish is one of the best fish for numerous sauces. Also these fish are great for children as there are no bones only cartilage.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Thanks, OC, for the General Topics board suggestion. Appreciate your thoughts about allergies, but it would be extremely weird that all three of us would develop an allergy on the same day! The adults have had skate before too, and no issues. There was something about that fish.

Baby was totally fine in about a minute - nothing cheese and raspberries couldn't cure :).

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Respectfully, I think that's a bit of an overreaction. Neither me, my wife nor the baby have any food allergies whatsoever. So while we all reacted to this fish, it leans away from an "allergy" and toward something unique about this particular fish, which I suspect would have affected anyone eating it the same way. Kind of like eating the poisonous part of the fugu would cause a reaction, but not an allergy. :)

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Interesting - did not know that. They touted their relationship with Foley Bros., which another poster here noted has been a longtime supplier in the Boston area. So surprised they do not get daily fish.

New Trucks: Any Reports?

Had the Heritage Truck sausage sandwich, with caraway/cabbage and mustard/mayo. It was good - the sausage meat had a nice flavor, but it was grainy and crumbly, so that a bite would get reduced to sort of ground beef-y consistency. The flavor was decent. $10 - and to think that at one time I thought that a $7 Speed's Dog was an indulgence.

Itchy skate wing question and possible Roche Bros. downhill alert

Hi everyone - the fish the first couple of weeks at the new Roche Bros. at DTX was beautiful. Stuff looked really choice. But last couple of visits, the stuff has looked really second rate. All the fish also seems to have this sheen to it, which looks unusual. The fish at Whole Foods by comparison just has a normal look to it, not this weird shine. Any insight?

But tonight they had skate wing, looked fresh...soaked it in milk, floured and pan fried it. Gave a piece to the infant baby and she starts really freaking out. So we try it and whoa - our lips were super itchy! None of us have food allergies but we all clearly had a reaction to something in the skate wing.

My googling failed to turn up anything definitive - some anecdotal stuff about skate being itchy, but nothing scientific. Anyone have any insight?