Yes, I totally agree with you. In the case of Posto, however, they are VPN certified AND make amazing pies.
I used to like Gran Gusto until I tried Una Pizza Napoletana, Motorino and Keste, all in NYC. These guys introduced me to proper Neapolitan-style pies. Gran Gusto's pies are a bit dry and their crust is quite dense. It seems like they're trying to do the Neapolitan thing, but not doing it all that well. I don't think that their oven burns hot enough, or maybe they need to retool their dough recipe.
Posto is the only place in Boston that does true Neapolitan-style pies. They are even VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certified. If you like Gran Gusto, definitely give Posto a try. I think you'll love their pies, as well as their other dishes.
Santarpio's makes a solid bar pie, but their BBQ is terrible. On the multiple occasions that I tried it, both the sausage and the lamb were dried out and nearly flavorless.
Regina's is very underwhelming. Even when ordered well done, their pies are thick and gloppy. And don't even think about getting their margherita. They put fresh mozzarella and basil ON TOP of dried mozzarella. WTF?
My favorite pies in the city are at Posto in Davis Square, Galleria Umberto in the North End and Pinocchio's in Harvard Square.
Posto makes true Neapolitan-style pies in an imported wood fired oven. Their margherita is amazing, but the real gem on the menu is the marinara (which unfortunately will be taken off the menu very soon - not sure why). It was even featured on the pizza site Slice: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...
Galleria Umberto makes cheese squares that taste like school cafeteria pizza it it were made with love. Their panzerotti and arancini are both outstanding as well. Be sure to wash them all down with a Dixie cup of red wine. Yes, you heard right, a Dixie cup. Note however that GA is only open for lunch, and that they often run out pizza by 1:30 PM.
Unlike Umberto's squares, which are goopey and oily (in a good way), Pinocchio's are light and airy. The white spinach, the white zucchini and the fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella are all amazing. I also love the fact that they are open super late.
I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that Cirace's recently got in Rucola, the arugula infused amaro from the island of Ischia. I picked up a 50 cl bottle for $20. Even though the ABV is listed at 30%, Rucola is definitely a lighter and sweeter amaro, somewhat in the vein of Cardamaro or Meletti. It is syrupy with lots of pie spice and orange peel notes. The arugula seemed buried under the other flavors. I also grabbed a bottle of Bisleri Liquer Ferro-China for kicks, since I've never seen it anywhere else. (Each 30 ml shot contains 5 mg of iron.) Although some people might be opposed to the metallic notes on the finish, I love the balanced bitterness and the star anise in both the nose and the flavor profile.
On the topic of new amari, Boston recently began receiving the Varnelli line. I picked up a bottle of Amaro Dell' Erborista at Astor Wines & Spirits in NYC a few months back and my girlfriend and I both agree that it is our favorite amaro ever. Made by hand in small batches and unfiltered, the araro is sweet, smoky and honey-ish on the front end, but finishes hugely bitter and dry with gentian notes that linger on your palate for what seems to be an eternity. Despite the high price tag ($66 for a 1 liter bottle) I would highly recommend it to the more seasoned amari drinkers. A big "thank you" to our server at Journeyman for this amazing recommendation.
Tip: When in NYC, amari lovers should definitely visit Amor y Amargo in the East Village. They offer small pours of any of their vast amari selections for a mere $4. Amazing.
Shouldn't this thread be titled "Best lobster roll under 20 bucks", or something to that effect? Finding a $30+ lobster roll is nearly impossible (thankfully). With that said, if you love lobster rolls and you are visiting Boston from out of town, I would definitely pony up the $25 and go to Neptune. My girlfriend and I are no strangers to fine dining and we both agree that if we could pick our last meal on earth, the entree would be a lobster roll from Neptune (and we've tried some of the best, including Red's Eats in Wiscasset, ME). Although Neptune doesn't take reservations, they do take your phone number when you get there and they call you about 10 minutes before your table is ready. Get there early, give them your name and number, and go grab cannoli to-go from Mike's and Modern (along with a piece of terrone from Modern). Later, you can go back to your hotel with two of the best cannoli on earth and do a blind tasting. You can thank me later!
The Food and Wine and the Alan Richman lists are both pretty solid, but the Rachel Ray Pizza Madness Bracket done by Ed Levine and Adam Kuban at Slice is definitely the first resource I turn to for pizza "rankings": http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...
Regina's is terrible. Sorry, I had to say it. The pies are limp and gooey, even when ordered "well done." If anyone Chowhounds have eaten at DiFara's or Totonno's, you know the stuff that Regina's tries to pedal is "mediocre" at best. Santarpio's is quite good, but it's only worth the effort to drive to East Boston once in a blue moon (and this comes from a Bostonian who's been to DiFara's five times over the past five years). Personally, if had weekend to eat in Boston, I'd get a few cheese slices at Galleria Umberto (also in the North End) for lunch (they're open Mon.-Sat., 11-3), along with some panzarotti, arancini (both are to die for, and SO cheap!) and a cup (yes, a cup) of red wine. This place has character AND amazing food. Then, for dinner, I'd grab a lobster roll at Neptune (also in the North End) and follow that up with a cannolo, an espresso and a chunk of torrone (to take home) at Modern Pastry Shop. If, however, you want to have the best pizza that Boston has to offer, I'd recommend heading to Pizzeria Posto in Davis Square (Somerville - easily accessible via the Red Line). Posto serves true Neapolitan-style pies from a wood burning brick oven. They got mixed reviews when they first opened two years ago, but the pizzas have improved markedly since then. If fact, the marinara I had there last month was one of the greatest pies that ever crossed my lips (and I've had some amazing pies from many of the best pizzerias in the country). Try to make reservations or plan on waiting two-plus hours for a table on a weekend night. I've been to Gran Gusto a number of times as well and, before trying places like Una Pizza Napoletana and Keste in NYC, I used to think it they made a good Neapolitan pie. Now I know better. If you do Posto, take the Red Line back to Central Square (Cambridge) and treat yourself to a scoop of burnt caramel ice cream at Toscanini's. The New York Times called Toscanini's "the best ice cream in the country" and I'd have to agree (sorry Jeni's). Enjoy your trip.
I've been tasting a number of amari (and fortified wines) over the past year. Here are my notes on what I've tried thus far:
Aperol Apertivo Liqueur: Bright red in appearance. Herbal and citrusy. Very similar to Compari but sweeter and a bit more tame. Mouthfeel is syrupy and viscous. Refreshing and very easy drinking.
Averna Amaro Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Syrupy and leggy. Boozy and sweet in the nose with notes of spices and licorice. Cola-like. The taste is also quite sweet and syrupy. Herbal with hints of citrus fruit. The alcohol is less noticeable in the flavor profile than in the aroma.
Caffo Amaro del Capo: Honey-amber in appearance. Spicy and exotic in the nose. The taste is similar. Notes of saffron, clove, allspice and cardamom are apparent. A touch smoky. More sweet than bitter. Overall, very interesting.
Campari Bitter Liqueur: Bright red in appearance. Herbal and slightly more bitter than sweet. Intense. Orange rind dominates. Lots of gentian root as well. Some alcohol is noticeable on the back end. Crisp, clean and refreshing. Lighter bodied.
Cardamaro Vino Amaro: Deep, orangey-amber appearance. Sweet, orangey and fruity in the nose. Lots of vanilla. Quite grape-y. Lots of port in the flavor profile. Medium-sweet. Slight prune notes. Some citrus as well. Hint of bitterness on the finish. Syrupy and medium bodied. Alcohol is barely perceivable. Very smooth and easy drinking.
Carpano Antico Formula: Smoky brown in appearance. Spicy and citrusy in the nose. Slightly herbal. Similar in taste. Spicy, herbal and refreshing with a pleasant bitterness and only a hint of vermouth. Thinner in body. Makes for a nice aperitif.
Cocchi Americano: Pale, dull yellow in appearance. Lots of white wine in the nose. Some lemongrass and herbal notes are also detectible. The flavor profile is similar. The white wine base is quite apparent. Crisp and light. Slightly bitter and herbal with notes of gentian root and lemon peel. Lighter bodied. Super easy drinking and refreshing, especially when mixed with a splash of soda water.
Cynar Bitter Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Deeply herbal with distinct notes of bitter orange peel. Overall, more bitter than sweet but balanced. Slight alcohol presence. Medium viscosity. Refreshing. Nice before or after a meal.
Fernet-Branca Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Super intense aroma and flavor profile. Mint and menthol dominate. Very bitter with an intense herbal quality and a strong alcohol presence. Dry and tannic on the finish. Not for the feint of heart.
Luxardo Amaro Abano Liqueur: Dark brown/black in appearance. Moderately herbal and spicy. Very cola-like. Saffron notes come through strong. Overall, rather tame.
Luxardo Fernet Amaro Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. The aroma is smoky and brisk. Intense herbal and eucalyptus notes come through in both the aroma and the palate. Very bitter. Quite similar to Fernet Branca but with less mint in the nose and more alcohol sharpness in the flavor.
Meletti Amaro Liqueur: Glowing orangey-amber in appearance. Citrus notes dominate. Quite floral. Spicy and a touch herbal. Much more sweet than bitter, but not cloying. Light, clean and refreshing. Graceful. Refreshing and very easy drinking.
Montenegro Amaro Liqueur: Interesting nose. Sweet with hints of vanilla and orange. Reminiscent of an orange creamsicle. The taste is quite similar. Sweet and syrupy. Lots of vanilla flavor with notes of orange and spice.
Nardini Amaro Liqueur: Deep crimson-amber body. Thick and leggy. Slightly minty in the nose. More sweet than bitter. Orange notes dominate the flavor. Mildly spicy. Quite sherry-like.
Nonino Amaro Quintessentia: Light amber appearance. Anise is noticeable in the nose. Ultra smooth flavor profile. Moderate bitterness. Citrus notes come through strong. Some anise as well. Saffron is detectible. Slightly salty and aged. Beautifully balanced.
Punt E Mes: Cola colored in appearance. Vermouth comes through strong in the nose. Earthy and herbal. Taste is similar. Lots of vermouth character. Herbal notes dominate. Quite citrus as well.
Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro Liqueur: Cola colored. Deeply herbal and earthy in the nose with a hint of vegetal sweetness. The taste is similar. Bitter yet balanced with lots of herbs and roots. Smoky. A slightly acidic, rhubarb-like sweetness come through as well. Syrupy mouthfeel. Reminiscent of Cynar but thicker and boozier.
Ramazotti Amaro Liqueur: Cola colored. Spicy and herbal in the nose. The taste is flavorful and balanced. Bitter, spicy and semi-sweet. Herbal and earthy. Some orange peel is noticeable as well. Moderately boozy on the finish. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel.
S. Maria al Monte Amaro Naturale Liqueur: Dark brown with red highlights. Very herbal in the nose with a touch of oak and some sweetness. The flavor is herbal with notes of orange rind. Some eucalyptus comes through as well. Quite bitter. Decent alcohol bite on the finish. All in all, a smoother rendition of a Fernet.
To be sampled:
My "go-to" amari at this point is still Cynar, with Zucca coming in a close second. S. Maria al Monte is a fantastic fernet and is a nice alternative to Fernet Brance, which I still find too harsh.