May 9th, 2010

Stella is stellar – Stella, Boston

Resist the urge to yell “Stella!” in your best Brando impression when you walk in – the very trendy people in the white bar seats at the white counter in the very white room will all turn and stare at you. Luckily, I was able to quash any faux pas before it started.


Stella has been on my places to go list ever since I went to the Sweet Basil cooking class and Dave Becker, Chef/Owner (and creator of my favorite Bolognese) told me that his favorite Bolognese was served at Stella. We were there on a very busy Friday night with R’s parents (Happy Mother’s Day, Lenore!) and had a really delicious meal. We started with an order of the parmesan arancini and they were excellent; huge balls of cheesy rice encased in a crispy outer shell, with a bright tomato sauce for dipping. The fried artichoke hearts were also great. On to the raison d’être, the Bolognese, I loved it. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce was robust, tender and meaty. It was a huge serving; enough for my dinner, samples for everyone and lunch the next day. Sweet Basil may need to make room on the Bolognese throne. I think I need to go to Sweet Basil and re-compare.


R’s four mushroom pizza was really more of a flatbread, but the thin crispy crust is exactly how I like my pizza. R likes crust with more chew, so I think I liked it more than him.


Skip ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, despite the fact I told him that people had reviewed them negatively. It was an okay dish; Lenore did not like the meatballs. She had the roast chicken, which I did not try. I did try the polenta cake that came with it and it was good. She complained of the portion size (breast, wing), which I thought was fine.


We all shared the chocolate torta, warm pecan pie and the lemon meringue cake (special) for dessert. I was really impressed with all three and liked them equally. The bread was a decent foccacia served with a white bean spread.


I really enjoyed our meal at Stella, especially the Bolognese, but I do have to complain about the noise level. The acoustics in the room were out-of-control loud - and we weren’t even in the room with the bar! We had a really difficult time having a normal dinner conversation and had to either shout, or repeat ourselves multiple times. When we got outside, R stated that his ears were ringing. I think we will definitely be back, but will aim for sitting outside, or a less popular time.

Ramen at Blue Ginger, Wellesley

I know I just wrote about Blue Ginger, but we had lunch with Mj and Brian there before they jetted off to the West Coast. It was a fitting last meal, with lots of delicious stuff but most notable was the ramen. It was unbelievably good; unlike any ramen you have had before. This is not the ramen you made in your dorm room in college. This was their house miso ramen, which is white miso and caramelized onion broth with noodles and your choice of sliced pork or chicken. We went with the pork, and it was a phenomenal bowl of soup. The noodles were toothsome and satisfying and the pork was tender, but the star of the show was the broth, the delicious miso and onion broth. You could hear the four of us making slurping sounds mixed in with murmurs of appreciation for the soup. This soup tastes like it could cure anything from the common cold to a broken heart.


At $12 a bowl, it’s not unreasonable to stop for a quick, filling, satisfying and delicious bowl of ramen for lunch. It’s available Monday through Friday during lunch and all day Saturday, in the lounge only.

Sonic, Wilmington

When I was 15, my friend Jon got his license and free use of the family car. Where life was previously limited to Cambridge and wherever the MBTA could take us, the world was now open, as long as we had money for gas. But, we really had nowhere to go, so lots of Saturday nights were spent at the Burlington Mall, or Jon’s favorite activity, getting lost. We would drive out to the burbs, take lots of random turns and when we were sure we were good and lost, we would try to find our way back. Oh, the things that amuse us when we are young. Now I think, “If only we had a Sonic, back then. . .”


Sonic is a national fast food burger chain; I am sure you have seen the commercials. But there were no locations in the New England area, so we could not experience the Sonic blast or Texas toast. All that changed last year with the first Sonic opening in Peabody, and now a 2nd location in Wilmington. Mj and Brian grew up with Sonic in Texas and have spoken fondly of it, so after a movie, R and I decided to try it go.


It was strangely nostalgic; we pulled in to a drive-in stall, the radio station was having an 80’s flashback weekend, and our waitress skated up in her rollerblades. We had a super Sonic cheeseburger, tots, onion rings, a caramel shake, a peanut butter fudge shake and an Oreo Sonic blast. The burger was large, probably twice the size of a Big Mac and tasted like one, too. R liked it. I love that I could get tater tots at 9:30pm. Both tots and rings were well fried. The shakes were good, not Christina’s quality, but better than McDonald’s. The Sonic blast (basically a DQ Blizzard, if you are more familiar with that) could have used more Oreos.


So, Sonic is a decent artery clogging option, if you are in the area and need a quick cheap lunch.