We all know that Boston is a hotbed for fabulous culinary and cultural experiences, but once in a while it's great to head for the hills, leaving the throngs and the traffic behind for somewhere perhaps more bucolic...or at least to a city with slightly smaller throngs, and fewer traffic jams.
We asked WGBH employees for stellar restaurant recommendations outside Boston, and by the response, it's clear that crazy-good eateries are not confined to the big city.
So, for those of you itching to get out of town, here are some food destinations that you might not want to miss!
We got some mouth-watering recommendations from colleagues in Greenfield, where WGBH has a satellite office.
The Blue Rock Restaurant & Bar in Shelburne Falls
Education Department Executive Producer Ted Sicker says that The Blue Rock Restaurant and Bar has a great selection of tapas-sized dishes as well as main courses. The mixed drinks and beer list is excellent, and the atmosphere is great; it's in a converted old train depot. A terrace for summer dining overlooks the falls that give the village its name. The food, which is locally sourced, ranges from Latin, to Mediterranean, to modern American, and is always tasty and creative.
1 Ashfield St., Shelburne Falls, 413-625-8133, thebluerockrestaurant.com
Magpie Woodfired Pizzeria in Greenfield
On the Greenfield town green, Magpie Woodfired Pizzeria is a favorite destination for Senior Developer Rob Archer. He writes, "If you are looking for some interesting and well-thought out pizza that won't burn through your budget, Magpie is calling to you with locally sourced produce and their Cubano pie. How about their to-die-for Nana's meatballs to share? (Easily the best I've had in the valley.) Most entrees are under $20 and feature well-cooked, well-seasoned ingredients like broccoli rabe, truffle oil, and fennel."
"Not in the mood for pizza? Try their cacciatori or ricotta mac and cheese (penne in ricotta & tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and spinach), or choose from the rotating listing of daily specials. For dessert, definitely try the honey-pie pizza or their chocolate mousse. The atmosphere is airy and friendly, with well-spaced tables and good lighting. You can watch (and smell!) your food being prepared in their open kitchen, or sit outside on the small porch overlooking the square in the center of Greenfield."
21 Bank Row, Greenfield, 413-475-3570, magpiepizza.com
And from the Local Development and Marketing department at our sister Cape and Islands station WCAI, come several suggestions that might just make a day trip to the historic seaside village of Woods Hole a summer must.
Quicks Hole Tavern Taqueria in Woods Hole
Beth Liles, Development Manager recommends Quicks Hole Tavern Taqueria. Described as "a unique combo of Baja California surfer hangout meets New England clam shack," Quicks Hole is a casual, quick service eatery that does tacos, burritos, salads, and homemade soups really well.
Beth explains, "The food is fresh and different from the usual Cape Cod fare, and it's affordable! Try a Lobsta' Taco!"
29 Railroad Ave., Woods Hole, 508-495-0792, quicksholewickedfresh.com
Pie in the Sky Bakery & Cafe in Woods Hole
Special Projects Assistant, Alecia Orsini, is a huge fan of this place. "Pie in the Sky is right across the street from WCAI and is as much a local haunt as it is a place tourists stop before heading to Martha's Vineyard. They are open all hours, (including during storm coverage!) and I'm a sucker for their chocolate chip cookies. We often will grab a snack and sit on the WCAI lawn and watch people go in and out of the place like a beehive. The plum tomato bisque my usual go-to for lunch with a veggie roll up. Local tip: You can call ahead for your sandwich and skip the line. And don't forget, they're famous for their Popovers!"
10 Water St., Woods Hole, 508-540-5475, piecoffee.com
Woods Hole Market & Provisions in Woods Hole
Sarah Tribuzio, Managing Director of Development calls out Woods Hole Market & Provisions for their great sandwiches and more. "My favorite sammie is the cranberry walnut chicken salad roll up. It's super fresh, and has a great balance of all 3 ingredients and not too much mayo."
Sarah describes sitting out on the upper deck overlooking Eel Pond with all the boats going in and out, saying it makes for a perfect afternoon break.
87 Water St., Woods Hole, 508-540-4792, woodsholemarket.com
And there was no shortage of submissions from WGBH employees in Boston; those who commute in, or those who just like to explore their neighboring towns and communities.
Kokeshi in Salem
Human Resources Business Partner, Gabrielle Thompson, says one of her favorite spots for a bite to eat is Kokeshi in Salem. While the name is Japanese, the menu reflects a broad range of Asian-inspired cuisine. Kokeshi's owners want their guests to "explore Asian street food in a casual atmosphere with a bit of whimsy." Gabrielle agrees. "Kokeshi is the bomb!" she says. They have a mix of Asian food (Korean, Japanese, Thai) as well as some fusion items. It's great for dinner, lunch, or drinks. The ambiance is funky and fun, and the staff is friendly. If that's not enough, it's walking distance from the Peabody Essex Museum."
41 Lafayette St., Salem, 978-594-4197, kokeshirestaurant.com
Fatima's Cafe in Worcester
Jackie Lewis, Senior Development Associate in Foundation Development, mentions a fabulous restaurant in Worcester that has become a family favorite for her. She says "Fatima's Cafe is a diverse mix of East African dishes, from places like Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, and everything is delicious! I lived in the region, and my husband is from Rwanda, so menu items such as Mandazi, Chapati, Ugali, and Sukuma provide a touch of nostalgia. Eating at Fatmina's is like going to a home away from home. The owners are super friendly, warm, and sincere, and it's all around a great experience. Try the goat!"
43 West Boylston St., Worcester, 508-762-9797, fatimascafe.com
La Campania in Waltham
Senior Director of Production Technology, Tim Mangini says his (Italian) family went in to try La Campania soon after they opened and fell in love with the authentic food. He describes the experience as exquisite Italian fare prepared with care and served by a great staff. Tim's family goes a few times a year, mostly on special occasions, and have never been disappointed.
Tim continues, "La Campania's atmosphere is intimate but social, and thankfully never too loud. There is a wine storage room in the way back that seats six, and is a fun place to have your meal. The food is wonderful, well prepared and served. They have an extensive wine list and will make great recommendations for you if you are a wine novice, like myself. They also make a terrific virgin cocktail that my daughter loves. You need to order the chocolate soufflé at the beginning of the meal, but it is to die for! We went last week to celebrate my son's graduation from college, and Angelo, the waiter, treated him like royalty!"
504 Main St., Waltham, 781-894-4280, lacampania.com
The Market Restaurant in Gloucester
Stephanie Saltzman, Senior Traffic Manager in Local Corporate Sponsorship claims that The Market Restaurant in Gloucester is not to be missed! Only open in the summer season and founded by alumni of Chez Panisse, this restaurant has a great wine program, fresh locally sourced food, and a beautiful setting on the water.
Stephanie always looks forward to meals here each year, and recommends that you check out their sister restaurant Short & Main!
33 River Rd., Gloucester, 978-282-0700, themarketrestaurant.com
Armsby Abbey in Worcester
Mark Murphy, Marketing and Data Analyst in Local Development and Marketing, nominates Armsby Abbey in Worcester. "They serve a mix of fine and comfort foods paired with cocktails", Mark says, "and have the best craft beer list in the state. Must haves would be the mac and cheese that comes topped with bread crusts from their next-door bakery Crust, and any of the beers on tap, which come from the best rated brewery in the country 'Hill Farmstead', saving you a 4-hour drive to upstate Vermont. After dinner take an additional stop at their other location, The Dive Bar right around the corner from the train station, for a couple nightcaps." You can take the commuter rail there and back!
144 Main St., Worcester, 508-795-1012, armsbyabbey.com
Gigi's Restaurant in Maynard
Laura M. Ely, Sr. Project Manager for PBS Distribution, loves Gigi's in Maynard. She says "the Pho, Spring Rolls, and even the Chicken Fingers are so good, and Gigi, the owner, is the best combo of professional and homey - you feel like family when you walk in. The staff is great with the kids, and it's very reasonably priced to boot!"
Rose 32 Bread in Gilbertville
"If you're ever in Hardwick", says Digital Producer Andrea Wolanin, "stop by Rose 32". She adds, "It's a great little bakery with a touch of the rustic feel from the surrounding farm areas. They have a huge selection of amazing breads and pastry, fabulous coffee, and a great breakfast and lunch menu. There's plenty of great hikes and nature adventures in the area, but it's also a great stop if you're heading down route 9 out to Amherst, or Northampton. And more stores are coming into the area - including a little brewery that's going in around the corner. Be warned though - brunch here spills out of the doors, so get there early!"
412 Main St. (Rte. 32), Gilbertville, 413-477-9930, rose32bread.com
Tuscan Kitchen in Burlington (and Salem, NH)
Lauraine Hutchinson, Business Development Appointment Rep. in Local Corporate Sponsorship says that Tuscan Kitchen not only has fantastic Italian food, but she absolutely loves shopping at the Italian fast food market and mini grocery store. "I can go food shopping for both from-scratch and fast pre-made food. The restaurant environment is comfortable, with ambient lighting, soft cushiony seats and dark wood furniture in Tuscan Kitchen. Many a time I've met a friend there to enjoy a pleasant meal. At Tuscan Market, you get a more casual café style seating with less expensive meals and, of course, the market selling prepared foods to go. They also have wine tastings. I've even attended a cooking demonstration, with Mary Ann Esposito, who showed us how to cook Italian food, and then served up to us!"
Lauraine frequents the Salem, NH location. But if that's too far, you can visit the location in Burlington.
2400 District Ave., Burlington, 781-229-0300 | 67 Main St., Salem, NH, 603-952-4875, tuscanbrands.com
Rhapsody's Victorian Coffee House in Franklin
Digital Audio and Video Product Manager, Jeff Burke, loves Rhapsody Victorian Coffee House, which is half a mile from where he lives in Franklin. It's a delightful Victorian themed coffee and crepe bar, and the sandwiches, crepes and coffee are just fantastic!
"It's a bit like entering a stage set for a 19th-century play, says Jeff. They go all out with the Victorian details, so it's a fun experience...and you won't burn a hole in your pocket either; the prices are mid-range, so not too expensive."
395 East Central St., Franklin, 508-440-5324, rhapsodysvictoriancoffeehouse.com