The Best and Worst Finds of 2009
Best New Restaurant: The best new restaurant of 2009 is Tavern on Main. Located in Chepachet, RI, this 200 year old inn is a treat for the eyes as well as the tummy (and the resident ghost doesn't hurt either). Love it!
Best Meal Deal: No, not the dollar menu at the fast food joints. I love the 3 for $20 deal at Chili's. A full-size appetizer, two full-size entrees, and a great dessert - all for $20. You can't go wrong, and there's a great selection of choices. Terrific!
Best Appetizer: If you know me by now, you know I have a hate-hate relationship with veggies. So to get me to eat any, it has to taste fantastic, and the butternut fries at Lorenzo's in Middleboro, MA, fit the bill. They are very lightly battered with a crisp outside, and sweet and creamy inside. I'm practically a vegetarian now!
Best Bread Basket: A few years ago, it was Bittersweet Farms in Westport, MA. This year, it's Bayside - also in Westport. What is it with Westport and bread baskets? Yum.
Best Fish/Seafood Restaurant: Captain Parker's on the Cape. We've heard about it, but never visited until this year. We'll be back - especially for the haddock and chowder.
Best Muffins: On a day when I was feeling so ill, we went to this charming little bakery called The Gingerbread Construction Company in Wakefield, MA. The muffins were huge and absolutely amazing. I really need to visit again so I can appreciate the beauty of this place - when I'm not Kermit green.
Best Italian Bakery: It was tough deciding between DiVozzi's in Peace Dale, RI, and Bova's in Boston's north end, but I'd have to give the edge to DiVozzi's. There's something about their cream - such a tasty sweetness. The shop is adorable and its a nice ride getting there.
Best Donuts: Still Kane's in Saugus, MA, and Allie's in North Kingstown, RI. Anyone have any new suggestions?
Best Clam Shacks: The favorite has to be Kool Kone in Wareham, MA. It has great indoor/outdoor seating with fantastic fried seafood. Plus, a great ice cream window. The runner-up is Lobster Trap on the Cape. It is a little more upscale than Kool Kone and definitely more pricey, but it serves great seafood in a nice setting.
Best Ice Cream Shop: We discovered Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, MA, this year and we're so glad we did. It has the best old fashioned sundaes around. Oxford serves delicious Richardson's vanilla ice cream with thick hot fudge (which they sell in containers), real whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. It's simple, but outstanding.
Best Bagel: Actually, they get their bagels from Bristol Bagel Works in Bristol, RI, but the Bagel Train in Swansea, MA, is an experience unto itself. How often do you get to have great bagel sandwiches on a real train?
Best Bakery: You know I love bakeries - getting in there and spinning around like a top, trying to see everything at once. But this bakery - Madrid in Marlboro, MA - is something special. It is so elegant, so European, and so delicious. This is the place to get something when you want to impress your guests.
Best Sandwiches: I have quite a few favorite sandwich shops, but this year's discovery is tops - Provender in Tiverton, RI. It's a little expensive, but they use top quality meat, cheese, and homemade bread. Don't forget to get a giant cookie on your way out. Delish!
Best Italian Restaurant: Mike's Kitchen in Cranston, RI. This restaurant serves old-school Italian food like squid salad, veal dishes, and fish and seafood pastas. It's not fancy, but the food is amazing. While I'm on the subject of Italian food, in my opinion, some of the top pastas are:
- Best Ravioli - Gennaro's, Quincy, MA (huge and filled).
- Best Spicy Sauce - Spumoni's, Pawtucket, RI.
- Best Manicotti - Magoni's, Somerset, MA.
- Best Lasagna - Riccardi's, Fairhaven, MA.
- Best Meat Sauce - Johnny Macaroni's, East Bridgewater, MA (sliced meatballs).
- Best Fettuccine Alfredo - Magoni's, Somerset, MA.
Best Pizza: We finally tried Minerva's III in our own backyard - Fall River, MA - and haven't looked back. The cheese pizza is so tasty. It has real cheese, a great crust, and a sweet/spicy sauce. My new favorite!
Best Breakfast Place: For great pancakes and smoked applewood bacon (thick), try The Pancake Man on the Cape. The pancakes are large, but very light and oh so good!
Best Cupcakes: Still Babycakes in Quincy, MA. Any new suggestions?
Best Burger: I have to defer to Laura on this one. She tried the filet mignon burger at Crowther's in Little Compton, RI, and has been talking about it ever since.
Biggest Disappointments: The closing of Morgan's, Butler's Donuts, Bravo's, and the fire at the Oriental Chow Mein Company. Also, the change in the Baskin Robbins frosting, and the overall taste of Panettone.
Biggest Comeback: Crowther's Restaurant in Little Compton, RI. What a difference a new chef and crew makes! This went from being one of my worst restaurant experiences to one of the best of 2009.
Longest Roadtrip for a Bite: The two (long) hours to and from Gloucester, MA, to get a St. Joseph sandwich at Virgilio's (which tasted like Marzilli's in my town of Fall River), and some pastry from Caffe Sicilia (uncomfortable experience). Sigh ...
Major Diane Events: Trying my first rib from Backroad Grille in Bristol, RI, and loving it! Also, eating the butternut fries at Lorenzo's in Middleboro, MA. Me ... eating veggies! Thank God they were fried.
... and finally, our ...
Biggest Project: The Nasoya wraps! Yowza!
That's it! Signing off, and I stand by my opinions.
Happy New Year!