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How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

Hamersley's is closing??!! How did I miss that? I somehow just assumed it would always be there...

Anyway, on topic, get over your dislike of Cambridge and you will greatly expand your options. Each restaurant is different, there is no unified "dining scene" and the people eating in Cambridge are more or less the same as the ones eating in the rest of greater Boston.

1 day ago
Pia in Greater Boston Area

any thoughts on L'Andana?

I've only been there once, but felt the exact same way. Food was good, but to me the ambiance was chain-restaurant-like.

1 day ago
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Clueless cook with parents dropping by (long)

Looks beautiful and I'm sure your parents loved that you went to so much effort for them! I would be so touched if my kids put so much thought into cooking a meal for me. (They're still little and would probably burn down the house in the process.) I like your breakfast platter idea -- simple but perfect.

Aug 11, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Peaches are SO wonderful right now...

Do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share? I have never heard of this, but it sounds great! Googling produces a number of recipes that are all pretty different from each other, so a tried and true one would be great.

Aug 08, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Peaches are SO wonderful right now...

I've made this with amaretto and vanilla instead of cinnamon and rum... really good! Broiling works too, with a little sugar sprinkled on top.

Aug 08, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Dear New York: San Francisco's Haute Dog Will Crush Your Cronuts

Cute name. This is basically a large pig in a blanket, which is one of the most delicious foods ever invented. Subtract the beet chips and it's less "haute," but still sounds like a great idea.

Jul 23, 2014
Pia in Features

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

I agree! I thought I was the only one. I bought two gallons of it (Costco...) and to me it tastes like they dumped in way too much vanilla extract.

Jul 18, 2014
Pia in General Topics

Day in Boston - where to eat Italian? Other suggestions?

If you're not looking for a sit-down meal, get takeout from Casa Razdora, and sit and eat it in the park in nearby Post Office Square.

Jul 13, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Cha Yen Thai, Watertown

I tried the new place in my neighborhood, Cha Yen Thai, for takeout. It's on Mount Auburn Street in the Coolidge Square neighborhood of Watertown, near Arax and Sevan, in the storefront formerly occupied by a wings place. It was surprisingly good! ("Surprisingly" because nothing's lasted long in that space, and the other Asian restaurant inhabitant of our neighborhood is the Green Peapod, which is dreadful.) We ordered larb, chicken satay, and kee mao noodles with seafood. The larb tasted very fresh with slices of radish and red onion, served with crunchy romaine leaves. The chicken satay was tender and coconutty, and came with a mild peanut sauce. The noodles had great wok hay, and were tossed with carrots, green beans, and small portions of whole mussels, shrimp, and calamari. I'll definitely go back and try other things on the menu.

They appear to have absolutely no web presence and the website listed on their takeout menu (chayenthaicookery.com) doesn't work, so I'll give you a rundown of their menu here. Everything is $4-10.

Starters, $5-6: Corn cake, poh piah (spring roll), roti with curry chicken, chicken wings, fried bean curd, shrimp cracker, curry puff

Soup, $4: Tom yum, galangal, or tofu

Salad, $8-9: Salmon mango salad, larb, papaya salad

Curry and chef specials - $8.50 for chicken, pork, or tofu, $10 for beef, duck, shrimp or seafood. Curry - red, green, pineapple, panang, Massaman, cashew nut. Ginger, eggplant basil, garlic, prik khing, ka pow, pla pad cha.

Fried rice, no price listed: plain, pineapple, or basil

Noodle, same pricing as curry: pad thai, kee mao, see ew, yaki soba, tom yum, sukothai

Grill, $5-7: Calamari, pork, chicken satay, beef, shrimp, bacon, vegetable

Jul 03, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Looking for High Tea and Nice Breakfast

The Boston Public Library's Courtyard Restaurant has afternoon tea overlooking the library's courtyard. I've had lunch there and thought the food was decent, but not excellent; but it's a novel setting and a nice view.

Jun 27, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

What am I doing wrong with my brownie recipes?

You could buy the Ghiradelli double chocolate mix, and mix in finely chopped chocolate at your preferred bitterness level.

Jun 25, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Help with North End casual date night

No argument here. Considering we just walked in with no reservation, I was perfectly happy with Limoncello.

Jun 23, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

Good solid dinner, we enjoyed it but nothing made up sit up and pay attention. I got the Tagliolini al Limoncello, homemade tagliolini (similar to linguine but thinner) in a tomato cream sauce with exactly 4 shrimp. He got the special risotto with asparagus and baby shrimp, which was very springy tasting. Prices are around $18-26 for pasta and $20-38 for secondi, which is a splurge for us -- if going out to dinner were the focus of our evening, I prefer going to places where flavors and combinations are unexpected or something I would have trouble making at home.

Jun 23, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

Thanks for the suggestions! Everywhere we went was packed with tourists and World Cup crowds, so I will have to keep your suggestions on file for next time. We ended up having a snack at home and then eating dinner at Limoncello after the show. (Alas, no early dinner reservation for us, due to kid/babysitter issues.)

Jun 22, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

We'll arrive around 7 p.m. on Saturday night and are planning to see a show from 7:30-9 at Improv Asylum in the North End. I'd like to have dinner, but I can't wait until 9. So, I'm thinking we could get a snack before the show, then a light dinner after the show. Another possibility is a quick, casual dinner before the show and coffee or ice cream / gelato afterwards. Any suggestions? I'm familiar with the area during the daytime, but I'm not sure what will be open on a Saturday evening other than sit-down restaurants (and Mike's, Modern, etc.) And this is a "date night" with my spouse, so no need to impress. Thanks!

Jun 20, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area


I tried it today too. It's on Franklin Street in Downtown Crossing, near DSW and TJ Maxx. There's no lunch rush since they just opened... it was pretty empty. I had the chicken, which I liked.

There are three menu options: pita sandwich, salad, or rice plate. For each of these you have four choices: chicken a la plancha (chopped into small pieces and grilled with peppers); meatballs (beef meatballs with, I think, a lemon and garlic sauce); mushroom, lentil, and thyme, and beet patties with black beans. Each one is around $7-8.

They also sell their pita in 5-packs to go. The fresh pita, which you can see being baked as you wait for your order, is worth visiting for.

I thought the menu was a little odd, there are basically four choices that can't really be customized because they all have strong flavors. The flavors were good and the bread was warm, fluffy, and fresh. I didn't think the sandwich was a very filling lunch, and I'm not a huge eater. I would go back and try one of the other options next time.

Jun 16, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ice cream stand?

So, this is going to sound really terrible, and it's certainly not cute or old time-y, but the best (chocolate, have not tried vanilla) soft serve I have had is at... Costco.

Jun 10, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ice cream stand?

Have to differ on the ice cream: it's Hood vanilla + flavor packets. The chocolate tastes diluted and the non-vanilla flavors have a chemical taste to me. The creamsicle and javaberry are OK and a lot of people are big javaberry fans, but I find the sorbet to be icy. I love ice cream and Celebrity makes me grumpy. It's in my neighborhood and it appeals to the kids, but I get crappy ice cream for more money than I would spend at any of the really good ice cream places nearby like Rancatore's.

Jun 09, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Does this dish have a name?

I don't know, but can you post a link to your blog post after you write it? That sounds great.

May 30, 2014
Pia in General Topics

Ice cream pairing for molasses (Shoo Fly Pie)

I nth vanilla, or buttermilk.

May 28, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

its fiddlehead season yeah

Mei Mei (both restaurant and truck) has been serving them. At the truck today they had tempura fiddleheads.

May 19, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Pregnant mama in search of chocolate-based peanut butter ice cream

I agree with the Haagen Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter rec. All the local suggestions are good too, but IMO this is better than local versions I've tried, and it's available at most stores that sell HD.

Apr 29, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Comfy cozy resturant for dinner Watertown, Belmont, Lexington, Arlington?

I think Kitchen on Common in Belmont fits the bill.

Apr 26, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Best dessert in Brookline

I love everything at Clear Flour, especially the rustic tarts, and I just learned that Google has a 360 degree view of the INSIDE of the bakery, and you can even zoom in and read the labels!

Apr 07, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Boston's Best Toast?

I don't know if it's "artisanal" but Spot Cafe in Watertown has excellent toast. I think they import it from somewhere? (They have a sign up saying where their bread is from, but I haven't been there in a while and can't remember. France? Montreal?)

Mar 27, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Too-dark chocolate transformation?

I think what you're suggesting would work -- the effect on the texture shouldn't matter much since you're baking it anyway -- but adding some milk (maybe evaporated or sweetened condensed milk) seems like a better bet than just adding sugar. Also, this sounds like a lot of work. Why not just chop it into relatively small pieces and also incorporate small chopped pieces of milk chocolate or some sweeter/lighter chocolate?

Mar 13, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

30th Birthday Party - with children

Go to Danehy Park in Cambridge (gazebo area next to playground, you may need a permit) and get takeout from Gran Gusto across the street or a picnic from Formaggio.

Feb 26, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area


Great report, thank you! How far in advance do you think you have to reserve?

Jan 28, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Best in Watertown?

In Watertown:
- Strip-T's for innovative and delicious but casual lunch/dinner
- Stellina for solid Italian; nice patio in warm weather
- Red Lentil for vegetarian/vegan food
- Molana or Shiraz for good sit-down Persian
- Jasmine for more casual or take-out Persian (Shiraz does take-out too)
- Stella's for pizza
- Demo's for soup and kebab sandwiches, but I've heard it has cleanliness issues
- Arax and Sevan for prepared foods; "Armenian Market" across from Target is also not bad
- Arax and Kay's (on Bigelow Ave) for produce and groceries
- Deluxe Town Diner, Uncommon Grounds, and Spot Cafe for breakfast; I also like Deluxe for other meals but I seem to be largely alone in this
AVOID: Green Peapod and Porcini's

Cambridge but nearby:

Stone Hearth Pizza for upscale pizza
Patou (Thai)
Craft Beer Cellar
Vicki Lee's - cafe with great coffee and food and excellent pastries
Il Casale
Kitchen on Common
Eastern Lamejun Bakers for lamejun and spinach and cheese pies

Jan 25, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Four generation brunch

I think Henrietta's Table would be perfect.
If you haven't been to Full Moon, beware -- it's fun for kids because they have a playspace, but very loud and chaotic.

Dec 30, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area