I already miss the easily accessible mouth-watering lobster rolls…those fresh and oh so luscious wonders of the world. I long for pizza that ranks supreme in my long list of creatively concocted and expertly executed crusts with sauce and toppings galore. I ache for authentic Chinese dim sum- especially those delicious dumplings I dipped in soy sauce and Sambal. Fresh North Atlantic seafood and bona fide Italian cuisine are also begging me to come back to the great city of Boston.
My second time visiting Beantown was all about the food… okay, maybe the bruskies too. Lucky for me, my travel buddy was my brother, Patrick, who is just as much of a foodie as me. Basing our adventures through Boston around fantastic fare would be no issue. We did our research. We planned ahead. Historic tours were not discussed beforehand. The only list of “things to do” we brought along with us were the names of restaurants we wished to visit. Staying with our cousin and her husband in Beacon Hill put us smack dab in the middle of the city, making our delicious dreams easy to come true. Our cousin, also a devout food lover, was eager to try some of our recommendations- primarily places visited by our favorite TV foodies, Guy Fieri and Adam Richman. I used a website I find to be particularly awesome for traveling once we booked our trip. Tvfoodmaps.com allows one to search by TV show and city in order to find eateries visited by Food Network and Travel Channel stars. Descriptions and recordings of the segment make it a super nifty tool for tasty travels.
First Stop: Figs. I tried to go to Figs the last time I visited Boston. It was 9pm on a Friday night and they had run out of pizza dough. Crazy, I know. But rest assured, this Beacon Hill hot spot created by famous (and sexy) Chef Todd English, puts out some of the best pizza I have ever had. Thank God they had the dough this go around. A thin crispy crust with fun toppings is the name of their game. Figs allows guests to order their pizzas half and half with a large array of specialty pies. We ordered our first pizza half portobello/caramelized onion and the other half fig and balsamic jam, gorgonzola and prosciutto. It was borderline ridiculous. The fig and prosciutto side had so many flavors that combined to form beautiful artwork in my mouth. Yes, it was that good. The portobello and caramelized onion side was topped with a generous drizzle of white truffle oil and Fontina cheese. The truffle oil was decadent and made such a happy marriage between the onions and shrooms. It’d be hard to say which half was the better half on this pie.
The other pizza we ordered was half Spicy Calamari special and half “Red Sox”. The calamari was perfectly breaded and fried-truly the best calamari I’ve come across. It came piled on a spicy marinara with sweet peppers, arugula and topped with lemon aioli. The saltiness of the calamari along with the spiciness of the sauce and the sweetness of the ailoi was darn right delightful. The other half- “Red Sox” was a more traditional pie with Italian sweet sausage, peppers, onions and interestingly drizzled with a honey mustard aioli. This pizza also, won awards in my book. If you’re ever in Boston, go here. Then, go again.
Next up: The Lobster Shanty. Located in Salem, just a 30-minute drive outside of Boston, this joint features both lobster rolls and Lobstertinis. Yep, you read correctly. They shake up a mean martini with seafood broth and top it off with a lobster claw for edible decoration. It was a delicious snack and strong aperitif in one little glass. Their lobster roll was jamb packed with huge chunks of the decadent seafloor dweller. It really striked my fancy as it was not overly bready-a feature very typical of the New England sandwich.
A walk through Boston’s not so awesome Chinatown with my cousin in-law led us to his favorite dim sum restaurant, Hei la Moon. Embarrassingly enough, I’ve never had dim sum before but was overwhelmed with tasty treats coming at me every which way. We ordered shrimp dumplings, pork and scallion dumplings, black bean sauced clams, steamed BBQ pork buns and cilantro rice noodles. Without question, the dumplings left the most significant food impression on my palate. The handmade noodles, which encased the scrumptious shrimp filling, were soft and chewy, making them terrific in texture. The shrimp was fresh and generously stuffed into the delicious noodle pockets.
The pork and scallion dumplings were salty in only the most perfect way making them a perfect companion to the sweet heat of Sambal chili sauce. Patrick devoured the black bean drowned perfectly steamed clams but fortunately I was able to pop a couple of these suckers in my chops before they were gone.
Toward the end of our stay, we convinced our very reluctant cousin to drive us to the questionable area of East Boston for Lobster Ravioli from an eatery Guy Fieri told me about on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Apparently Rino’s restaurant is no joke because there was a two and a half hour wait! No thank you; after walking my butt off through sweltering hot Boston all day, I was not about to stand on the street side and sweat some more. The only logical solution? Take-out. We ordered the famous lobster ravioli, a ground sausage, pea and mushroom ricotta tortellini and wild mushroom and sage ravioli. My cousin, living above an authentic Italian restaurant, was not so sure Rino’s deserved all the hype. Then again, she is not a lobster fanatic. Truth be told, the other pastas were mediocre but the super-stuffed and delicious sauced lobster ravioli was seriously stunning. It is the dish Guy drooled over and it’s no wonder why. I’d make the drive to sketchy East Boston and wait 30 minutes for take-out any day if it meant eating this glorious dish.
On our very last night, we dined at the oldest restaurant in America, making it a totally validated tourist destination. Ye Olde Union Oyster House was established in 1826 and is apparently home to the toothpick. Not reliant on these often trashy looking teeth cleaning devices, I went there for the fare.
My cousin ordered the Seafood Bouillabaisse. A huge bowl of aromatic seafood broth packed high with mussels, lobster and fish, this dish was the star of the table. Super fresh and perfectly cooked seafood soaking in a flavorful broth-how could it not be divine?
True to his seafood ordering reputation, Patrick ordered their fried seafood platter. Clams, fish, shrimp, oysters and onion rings were golden brown in a wonderful light batter. I can’t believe I’m saying this but malt vinegar wasn’t even necessary. I had the thick, creamy and chunky clam chowder as a starter to my crabmeat stuffed haddock. The haddock was beautifully broiled and the crabmeat stuffing was pleasingly more crab than carb. We were all pleased with this tourist trap.
Yes, I do believe I miss the seafood-especially the lobster. I also hunger for Figs harmonious topped pizzas; they've already been in my dreams. But I will be back Boston... and my tummy will lead the way.