Friday, March 15, 2013

Boston Trip (Boston and Cambridge, MA)

Regina Pizzeria is, by all accounts, a Boston landmark, a restaurant famous enough to have its own page on Wikipedia, and a real icon in the predominately Italian North End neighborhood.  With 21 locations ranging throughout greater Boston, this is a still-growing business serving the same great pizza they have since 1926.

I met an old college friend at the restaurant for dinner a little after 8:00pm on Wednesday, having just started to recover my appetite from my trip to Tacos Lupita, and having done a fair bit of walking already that day (from Allston to Cambridge, then from Quincy Market, where I had a couple beers with another friend, to the North End), I was ready for some pizza.  My friend had a coupon for a couple different pizzas, which is good, because the place is not cheap; their "gourmet" pizzas, as they refer to them, are around $20 for a large.  We ended up going with the Classico, which consists of tomato sauce, pepperoni, artichoke hearts, fresh mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan.  It was really good, with a crispy exterior and a thin crust in the middle, which could not hold the weight of the toppings.  The sauce was nothing particularly special, though it had a nice sweetness to it.  The pepperoni was mild, with almost no spice to it, but I wasn't expecting it to be the star; that honor fell to the artichoke hearts, which were delicious, but not quite what I expected.  When I think of being served artichoke hearts, I think of just the heart itself, that meaty, delicious chunk of buttery flesh in the center of all those leaves, but in this case, they left some of the more tender inner leaves attached.  This wasn't exactly a problem, but it wasn't what I expected, and it's certainly not how I would have gone about making it; then again, they're the ones who have been open for almost 90 years, so who am I to talk? 

Overall, the food was solid, though not as amazing as I expected, and it was a fun place to grab some pizza.  We had a few slices left over that my friend took home, and they were huge slices.  I would say it's a good place to go, but also that there are better options in the North End.


Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers identifies itself as being a Boston landmark as well, but that is just a flat out lie; after all, they're not even in Boston!  Located in the Harvard Square section of Cambridge, this is a really good place to get a burger, offering thirty cleverly named burgers, mostly political or sports related, that range from "The (Sexy) Rexy Ryan," a chicken burger with blue cheese, hot sauce and french fries, to "The Chara," listed as "'wicked good' w/ bbq sauce, bacon, jalapeno pineapple relish and grilled onions w/ baked beans."  I met another old friend from college there on Thursday for lunch, and it was pretty well packed still at almost 1:30pm, but we got squeezed in immediately.  The atmosphere is fun, with the waitresses screaming the orders to the cooks and a lively crowd of mostly college aged people eating there, though by no means was the crowd limited to twenty-somethings.

I went with "The Mark Zuckerberg," described as "(Richest geek in America) with boursin cheese, bacon, and sweet potato fries."  It was delicious.  Cooked perfectly rare (so hard to get people to do that these days!), it was a hefty patty, seemingly larger than the 7oz the website claims, on a delicious sesame bun with a mound of delicious, creamy boursin and a pile of super crispy bacon on top.  The fries were actually reasonably crispy (awesome!) and had that strong, sweet flavor indicative of fresh sweet potato, and they provided so many that even as hungry as I was, I ended up giving my friend the last two because I was unable to stuff them into my already overfilled gut.

Since I walked about 12 miles in two days, I felt it was completely acceptable for me to also get a root beer float, and I felt completely vindicated when it arrived; it was absolutely delicious, with good root beer and delicious vanilla ice cream.  This is just one of many specialty drinks, including lime rickeys, egg creams, and a number of frappes.   My friend went with "The Michelle Obama" burger, "(she's hot & spicy) blue cheese burger with cajun seasoning and french fries," and she swapped out the fries for sweet potato fries of her own.  She enjoyed it, and also her raspberry lime rickey.

I would definitely recommend this; the burgers are better than the nearby Charlie's Kitchen, with more variety and options.  Unless you are going for the booze, I would definitely say Mr. Bartley's is the better choice if you don't mind spending a few dollars more.  After tip, we were in the $40 range between the burgers and drinks, so it isn't cheap, but I really enjoyed it.


I went to Crema Cafe twice in my two days in the Boston area, once on Wednesday to waste a little time before meeting for drinks at Quincy Market, and again on Thursday to waste some time after lunch.  Located just off Harvard Square, this is a moderately sized cafe, offering seating on the main level and also in a small loft section.  Offering gourmet coffee and a variety of food, this is a great, albeit expensive place to hang out and read a book, or just grab a coffee on the way to work.  I had iced coffee on Wednesday since it was beautiful out, though they were out of their cold brewed coffee unfortunately, and it was good, much better than some crappy Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks (both of which are in the area) coffee.  Thursday was a bit chilly, so I ended up with a hot coffee, which was one of the best I'd ever had; it was strong, but not bitter, and after 16oz of it I didn't feel like I'd been bowled over with caffeine, nor did I feel like I needed more; rather, it was just right.  I also grabbed a couple macaroons with my hot coffee, and they were ridiculously good.  Light, moist, slightly but not too sweet, with a crisp exterior, they were as good as I've ever had, and I had to struggle to convince myself that I didn't need more than the original two.

Sandwiches, soups, salads and sundry other foods are also offered, so this is a really good option if you are looking to just hang out and grab lunch, and while I cannot speak to the quality of that food, if it is anything like what I had you will not be remotely disappointed.  My friend Joe goes there when he is not at the library at the Kennedy School, and he spoke highly of it as well.  This is definitely a highly recommended spot.


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