Friday, December 30, 2022

2022: My Favorite Restaurants

What were some of my Favorite Restaurants of the past year?

As 2023 approaches, it's time once again to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. I've already posted two of my annual Favorite Lists: Top Ten Wines of 2022 and 2022: Favorite Wine, Spirit, Sake & Drink-Related Items. It's time now to cover my Favorite Restaurants of 2022. These lists should provide a comprehensive summary of my favorites from this past year, allowing my readers to more readily locate such gems, the best of my recommendations. 

This is certainly not a complete list but is more a sampling of memorable restaurants and food items I've experienced and/or posted about over the past year. This list is also in no particular order, and is purely a subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. However, all of the restaurants here earn my hearty recommendation and I hope you'll enjoy them as well. For more Restaurant reviews, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.


I'll begin with my Top Three Favorite Restaurants, the exceptional spots which are consistently excellent, offering great food and drink as well as top notch service. These are the three places which first come to my mind when I want a celebratory dinner, or just want a sublime dining experience. They receive my unqualified highest recommendations. Please note these three restaurants are not in any specific order. 

This Greek restaurant is amazing, where nearly every dish is exceptional. Their menu consists of a wide selection of small plates, perfect for sharing, and offers creative Greek cuisine, with roots in tradition but it's not afraid to experiment. Their Greek wine list, the largest in the country, is superb with so many delicious and interesting options. Service is excellent, and the servers are very knowledgeable of the food and wine. My favorite dish of my most recent experience was the Xtenia (pictured above), seared scallops with roasted corn kritharoto, cherry tomatoes, and maidanosalata. Such a great sear on the tender and sweet scallops, enhanced by the other ingredients.

Offering inventive and delicious French/Vietnamese inspired-cuisine, with their own unique spin, this restaurant offers Tasting Menus, ranging from 7-14 courses. Their dishes are exceptional, bursting with flavor, and creatively composed. Plus, they have an excellent wine list and cocktail program. I like their homey vibe, service is always excellent, and they have an open kitchen, which I've always loved. They also recently received five stars from the Boston Globe. My favorite dish from my most recent experience was the Bay Scallop Noodle Soup (pictured above), with marinated pork, smokey broth, fennel, and omani lime. Such a delicious melange of flavors, elevating this dish.  

Tasting Counter (Somerville)  
This is another restaurant which has long been one of my top favorites, and I really need to dine there more often. As I've frequently mentioned, I believe Chef Peter Ungár is one of the best chefs in the Boston+ area, and doesn't receive as much attention as he deserves. His restaurant has been consistently excellent every time I've been there, due in large part to Chef Ungár being a perfectionist. His dishes are creative and delicious, with such intriguing combinations of ingredients. And the drink pairings are excellent choices as well. If you want to splurge on one of my top dining experiences in the Boston+ area, this is the spot you should do so. 

I want to now address those restaurants, which were new to me this year, and impressed me. These are definitely restaurants I want to dine at again, and which are worthy of recommendation. 

Yakitori Totto (Somerville)
This new restaurant opened in December 2021, and has quickly become a favorite of mine. I have dined here several times this year, and each time the restaurant has been consistently excellent. You can check out my Initial Impressions for more information. Excellent grilled meats, seafood, and veggies, as well as other dishes from home-made Gyoza to Tori Dango (chicken meatballs covered with mochi rice). Pictured above is the Kawa, grilled chicken skin, which was a pure delight, crispy, chewy, and flavorful. They have a small Sake list but there are some very good choices there. 

Bambolina & Kokeshi (Salem)
Where else can you find wood-fired pizza and ramen? Bambolina and Kokeshi are two restaurants, under the same ownership, which also share the same space. There are separate menus for both spots, but you can opt for anything on either menu. Check out my initial review, and I have been there a few more times after that as well, enjoying each experience. I loved their pizza and ramen. Pictured above is the tasty Col. Sanders Ramen, made with a spicy pork broth, fried chicken, Tokyo wavy noodle, corn, wakame, Vermont butter, and scallions. The broth was spicy with a nice depth of flavor, and the fried chicken had a crunchy coating and was moist and tender inside. It was an ample dish, full of flavor, and very pleasing.

Wusong Road (Cambridge)
Another newcomer to the area, I enjoyed a delicious Lunch, and tasty Mai Tai, at Wusong Road and was impressed. The menu is Asian-inspired, but is very creative as well, such as offering their own version of New England Chop Suey. It has such a fun vibe, from its decor to the menu, and would be a great spot for a drink and some appetizers. The Mandarin Chicken (pictured above) was crispy chicken, with togarashi seasoning, scallions, sesame seeds, Thai basil, and accompanied by a Mandarin orange & sambal dipping sauce. The chicken was moist and tender, with a thin and crunchy fried coating. 

Another newcomer to the Boston restaurant scene, this restaurant is part of Chef Morimoto's culinary empire, and I only had lunch there once, but want to return to try more of their menu. I was impressed with my lunch choices, including then Spicy Tan-Tan (pictured above), with a spicy sesame broth, miso ground pork, cilantro, scallion and ajitama (an egg). The broth was compelling, with a rich sesame flavor that was nicely spiced. The noodles were cooked just right and the miso pork and egg were tasty. Everything was well composed and balanced, an excellent choice for a hearty lunch.

Chet's Diner (Northboro)
Knowing nothing about this diner, I decided to stop by for breakfast and was extremely glad that I did so. It's only open for breakfast, has a nice homey vibe, and prices are very reasonable. Their Pancake (pictured above) was exceptional, as well as quite large, covering nearly the entire plate. It was thin, fluffy and light, with a delightful taste. I only slathered butter on my pancake and it was more than sufficient. No need for syrup. It was one of the best pancakes I've enjoyed in quite some time. In February, I hope to dine here again, and maybe on multiple days. 

B.T.'s Smokehouse (Sturbridge)
Again, I only dined at this restaurant once, for a tasty lunch, but I want to return, and may do so in February. It's a well known barbecue spot, very casual, as well as a BYOB spot (with no corkage fee). Pulled pork, brisket, ribs, fried chicken and much more, and the prices are very reasonable. Pictured above, their Boneless Fried Chicken was superb. A great crunchy coating, well-seasoned, covering moist, tender chicken. Each bite was delicious and I could have easily enjoyed a meal of just this fried chicken. 

Now, I want to mention more of my favorite restaurants, those which I have dined at multiple times during the last couple years, sometimes on a regular basis. I haven't written articles about some of them this past year, although they have received mentions on my social media. These restaurants have remained consistent and excellent, and continue to earn my hearty recommendations. Please dine at these restaurants, and I believe you will enjoy them as well.

A Tavola (Winchester)
This is an excellent Italian restaurant, which is small and intimate, with superb home-made pasta dishes. Chef Joe Carli is very talented and personable, and his cuisine is as good as anything you'll find in the North End. I've written about them a couple times this year, including A Superb Sicilian Wine Dinner and some Recent Culinary Highlights. Their wine list concentrates on Italian wines, and there are many very good choices. You also should check out their event list, which includes fun and tasty wine dinners and cocktail classes. 

Tambo 22 (Chelsea)
The Boston area has seen a growth in Peruvian restaurants, and Tambo 22 is a stellar example, a more high-end spot for exceptional Peruvian cuisine. It too is a small and intimate venue. Chef Jose Duarte is another very talented and personable chef. The food is delicious, interesting, and hearty. They have a full drinks program, including numerous Peruvian spirits and a variety of Pisco Sour cocktails. It's an impressive restaurant and one that never fails to please. 

Peruvian Taste Restaurant (Charlestown)   
Another Peruvian spot, this is a smaller, more casual spot, serving delicious and authentic cuisine, including Chifa, a combination of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. In fact, they have the largest Chifa menu in the Boston+ area. They serve ample dishes of delicious, fresh comfort food that is reasonably priced. This is the type of restaurant where you want to return again and again to try all of the various dishes on their extensive menu. It's a bit hidden away, in a more industrial area of Charlestown, but its well worth seeking it out. 

This is my favorite clam shack on the North Shore, providing such delicious, fresh fried seafood. I love their fried clams and their fried scallops are some of the best I've ever tasted, so sweet and tender. Plus, on Fridays, they often have fried lobster tails, such a decadent treat. Their plates are quite large, and probably can even be shared. They also earn kudos for their great customer service

Soall Viet Kitchen (Beverly)
The two owners, Sa Nguyen and Mia Lunt, offer authentic Vietnamese cuisine, to highlight the culinary delights of their homeland. The food is fresh, well-prepared, delicious and reasonably priced. Some of my favorite dishes include their plump Shrimp Summer Rolls, the crispy Sweet Potato & Shrimp Fritters, the tasty Steamed Pork Bao, and the alluring Chicken Clay Pot. They have Pho and Bahn Mi as well, but I recommend you branch out and try some of their other Vietnamese dishes.

Việt Citron (Burlington)
This small, casual Vietnamese restaurant serves primarily Bahn Mi and Pho, with a variety of seasonal specialities as well. I love their Crispy Pork Belly Bahn Mi, and often try their seasonal dishes, such as this past summer's Viet Grilled Corn. There is great passion here, and it's obvious they take great care in the preparation of their dishes. I enjoy having a casual lunch here, reveling in the tasty flavors of their cuisine. 

Prince Pizzeria (Saugus)
This restaurant has existed on Route 1 for 60 years, and is a place I've been going to since I was a child. It's a large, casual spot for pizza and Italian cuisine, and its pizza is basically its own unique and delicious style. I dine there regularly, and most often order their pizza, but the rest of their menu is tasty too, such as their Meatball Sliders and Lasagna. The passionate owner, Steve Castraberti, is often at the restaurant, helping to ensure it runs well, as well as being a friendly face to the guests. It's a great spot for private parties too.

The Bancroft (Burlington)
The Burlington area has numerous steak houses but my favorite is The Bancroft, and their lunch program is superb, showing they do well with more than just steak. Last winter, I dined there as a Valentine's celebration, enjoying dishes including fried clams, duck confit sandwich, and a steak & blue cheese sandwich. I've been there a couple times since then, continuing to enjoy their lunch menu choices. I need to get back there for dinner soon. 

This Greek restaurant has long been one of my favorites, from their Brunch to their Dinner. They offer a different type of Greek cuisine than Krasi, and it is delicious, creative, and well-balanced. They too have an excellent selection of Greek wine, Greek spirits, and cocktails using Greek ingredients. It is one of the best restaurants in the Seaport area, and during the summer, you can enjoy their large outside patio. 

Greco (several locations in Boston)
Another Greek spot, this fast-casual restaurant, with multiple locations, specializes in Gyros and Loukoumades (Greek donut holes). The Gyro meat, which is slowly marinated over many hours, is always tender and flavorful, with their lamb being my favorite. The Gyro, with its warm pita and Greek-seasoned fries, is such delicious comfort food. And the sweet Loukoumades, in various flavors, are always a treat as well. 

Row 34 (Burlington)
The former Island Creek Oyster Bar is now Row 34, but maintains the same high quality and delicious seafood dishes as before, including the tasty Tuna Melt! The seafood, from the fresh oysters to fried clams, is always appealing, and they also have a very good wine list and creative cocktails. When I'm craving seafood, Row 34 is always one of my top choices. 

China Sky (Winchester), 
This restaurant serves a wide variety of tasty Chinese and Japanese dishes, including sushi. Their Sesame Chicken is probably the most delicious example of this dish I've eaten. Their lotus flour coating is crispy and thin, not the overly thick coating you often encounter. The chicken is moist, tender and ample. There was much more chicken in this dish than you commonly find in similar ones. Plus, the sauce is fresh, flavorful and complex, not the thick, goopy and overly sweet sauce you find at other spots.

This is an excellent spot for Chinese cuisine, from Soup Dumplings to Dan Dan Noodles. It's a small, more intimate spot, with a full liquor license, and the food menu is extensive. Even those common dishes, which you can find in many other Chinese restaurants, are elevated in quality over many of those other places. Malden has numerous Asian restaurants, but District Kitchen is one of the best.  

Nick & Andy's (Danvers)
This restaurant is open only for breakfast and lunch, and they excel at breakfast. It's probably my favorite local breakfast spot, as the food is fresh, delicious and there's plenty of variety. From their fresh-baked muffins to their hash browns (which are tougher to find locally), there is so much to enjoy about this place. Their Chicken & Waffles dish is also excellent, and one of my usual choices when I dine here. Prices are reasonable and service is very good. Overall, it's such a special place.

Another breakfast and lunch spot, Iron Town recently underwent a change in ownership, but so far, they have maintained much of the same menu as before, as well as retaining many of the same servers. I've always loved their Monte Cristo Sandwich, a hearty sandwich, stuffed with a thick mound of turkey, cheese and ham, sandwiched between two slices of French Toast. However, I wanted more sandwiches made with French Toast, and Iron Town has catered to my request, so I've had sandwiches including the   French Toast Cheeseburger, French Toast Chicken Cutlet, and a French Toast Pastrami sandwich. You too can enjoy such sandwiches just by making a special request. 


Additional Favorites: Here are some other of my favorite restaurants, many which I haven't dined at in the past year, but which I want to return to in 2023. 
These include: A&B Burgers (Beverly), Butter UR Biscuit (Beverly)Bistro du Midi (Boston), Dumpling Cafe (Boston), Mooncusser Fish House & Cusser's Roast Beef (Boston), Select Oyster Bar (Boston), Taberna de Haro (Brookline), Feng Shui (Burlington), Sichuan Gourmet (Burlington), Momi Nonmi (Cambridge), Puritan & Co. (Cambridge), Sumiao Hunan Kitchen (Cambridge), Tampopo  (Cambridge), Bistro 5 (Medford), Spiga (Needham), Farm Grill & Rotisserie (Newton), Moldova Restaurant (Newton)Dali (Somerville), Fusion Taste (Stoneham), Taste of Siam (Stoneham), Jana Grill (Watertown)Mitho Restaurant (Winchester), Ristorante Lucia (Winchester)Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe (Woburn), and WuBurger (Woburn).

Support the Restaurant Industry: As I said above, the restaurant industry has been devastated by this pandemic, especially as the federal government has done little to aid and assist the industry. Some restaurants have closed permanently and others may be forced to do so in the near future. We need to support our favorite restaurants as much as we are capable, from buying gift cards to ordering take-out, from getting delivery to tipping well. If you have a positive dining experience, tell your family and friends. Spread the word on social media. 

What were some of your Favorite Restaurants this year?

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