(list of eateries is alphabetical)
new england reviews
Balthazar's Restaurant --Manhattan, NY
The famous red awnings of Balthazar's adorn Spring Street in SOHO; let the red draw you in. You'll be pleasantly surprised. Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate" brought us to Balthazar's. The french fries (pommes frites) are absolutely THE BEST! They were right. But that's not all about this place you'll want to try. Visit to see for yourself.
USE OUR SENSE: Make reservations. Dress smart-cas. We did neither and were a bit out of our element, but still okay. There's a bakery next door, we almost waited to grab dessert there, but ordered the creme brulee instead; best DESSERT EVER! No need to eat it again in my life! HA!
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Splurge and get 'The Balthazar' for dinner if you're a seafood lover. A three tiered treat that takes up the entire table and gets you VIP treatment for the evening. Definitely an experience, especially when all surrounding tables are taking pictures of yours.
Becco --Manhattan, NY
Mmmmm, try a new flavor combination here that you’re not used to at home. I had goat cheese and roasted beet raviolis and they were fantastic. This place is small and gets cramped during hot times, but it’s on Restaurant Row in Manhattan so it’s to be expected. I find it’s tough to enjoy an intimate dinner for two in the city since there’s so many tables crammed together, but if you don’t mind close quarters, give Becco a shot. The food was great, the service was timely, and we’ll probably go back if we’re in the area again. Manhattan reviews are tough though, there’s just so many different places to try! How do you compare?
USE OUR SENSE: Pasta dishes were very yummy.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: They have a nice special menu and offer occasional deals (like an endless pasta option, etc.)—scope it out online first.
Black Top Café --North Conway, NH
The atmosphere here is enough to keep you comfy all night. Black Top offers a smart-casual, ultra-modern décor with beautiful artwork adorning the walls and a warm fire place glowing throughout. The waiters were very nice, the food was great, and we would definitely go back if we’re ever in North Conway again. Highly recommend for a date night in the snowy mountains.
USE OUR SENSE: Call ahead or make reservations, as this café is close to the shopping area and it fills up quick at prime times.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Splurge and order an appetizer too. The Asian flavored wings are out of this world—Bare still raves about them (we were there a year ago), being the BEST he’s ever had! That’s impressive. So yummy!
Bova's Bakery, Boston, MA
USE OUR SENSE: This little corner bakery is in Boston's Little Italy on the North End. The small streets and forked location keep it from being packed. Walk in and pick from a huge selection. We weren't that impressed with the cannolis (we all know Virgilio's rocks the best), but the bread was fresh and delicious.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: I can't believe this, and I wish I lived in Boston for this reason... they are open 24 hours. I have never had an Italian bakery open 24 hours...great! Hankering for a macaroon or semolina loaf at 2am? Check!
Doyle's Cafe' --Boston, MA
USE OUR SENSE: Yes, as seen in the movie, Mystic River. This place is a staple in Bostonian culture. It's been around since 1882 and there's a reason. Food was decent, nothing amazing. It was best for a drink, warming up from the cool Boston air, and relishing in the history plastered on the walls.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: They serve up Samuel Adams Red Brick beer; brewed especially for consumption in Boston. It's a treat. Plus, if you go to the Samuel Adams Brewery Company Tour a few blocks away first, show your ticket stub here for a complimentary pint glass. Nice souvenir.
Geronimo’s --New Haven, CT
Heaven on earth for this girl! Love the atmosphere, service is great, cool location in downtown New Haven. We’ve already driven an hour out of our way to stop here, so worth it! Recommend eating out front on their cool veranda. It's Mex-Tex with a yuppy twist, southwestern grille. Deee-lish!
USE OUR SENSE: Order the crab quesadilla, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Scope it out for happy hour specials; great drink savings.
Gray's Papaya --Manhattan, NY
How haven’t you heard of this place? It's been mentioned in lots of flicks; Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, You've Got Mail, Fools Rush In, and even For Love or Money. Visit for the thrill of eating at the famous Gray’s, but don’t count on the best dogs and juice you’ve ever had. I'd probably go with a street vendor next time.
USE OUR SENSE: Load your dogs up with their onion sauce.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Pass on the juices; certainly not a fresh fruit drink.
India Quality Restaurant -Boston, MA
USE OUR SENSE: The first place I ever tried Indian Food. I swear, I was dragged in to the place, kicking and screaming. The food was excellent. We must have ordered everything on the menu, it was all great. Spiced well, plenty in portion. Yum. This place created a monster.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: A must try. Plus, it's in the Kenmore Station neighborhood. Who doesn't love that?
LeVain’s Bakery --Manhattan, NY
So gooey, warm, and good. It will be a challenge to find this basement level bakery on the streets of New York, but it will be worth it. Also seen on TV via chefs and celebrities, we ventured to the Upper West Side for some cookies (there's a location in Harlem too). More like scones, so big and round. They have a limited amount of flavors, but the ones they have are delish. They have breads and other pastries too, but you won't make it passed the cookies. Plus, you'll be rushed out by the line of anxious customers.
USE OUR SENSE: Get the variety gift box and share with everyone!
SAVE YOUR CENTS: That gift box will cost you a pretty penny. It's $3-4 a cookie. Yup. Upper West Side folks.
PD O'Hurley's. --Manhattan, NY
You can visit them on the West End of the city or on Pier 84; either is good. A safe, Irish style pub, how could you go wrong? We always go in just wanting a burger and a beer, but are always swayed by the yummy entree specials and get more of a fancy dinner. Take advantage of a great menu, they even have a raw bar.
USE OUR SENSE: Upper West Side location is less busy and more cozy than the Pier.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Pass on the dessert, just frozen items. Nothing authentic or special.
Shalimar of India --North Conway, NH
I’m so glad we stumbled upon this place on our Mt. Washington vacation. Bare had never tried Indian food before and I knew the first impression had to be good or else he’d never try it again. This place fit the bill. You’re greeted by the grandmother of the family at the door, and seated at small tables (the place isn’t that large although it appears so from the outside) with glass tops protecting the rave reviews from past customers underneath. It’s neat to read their experiences. We ordered close to one of everything on the menu, and the service was phenomenal. The grandmother and mother of the family running this restaurant explained all the flavors to us and kept bringing us more food. What an experience.
USE OUR SENSE: The chicken tikka masala was delicious! And it’s a great starter for that apprehensive American trying out Indian for the first time.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Don’t bother being conservative—order everything, it’s worth it.
The Half Door -- Hartford, CT
USE OUR SENSE: Great bar food, quaint little old country-styled pub. Loved the adorable outdoor seating; bustling street gives you plenty of people to watch. Order any beer you wish, big list. If your travels bring you to Hartford, try it out.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Prices aren't bad. Happy hour specials and beer deals regularly.
Tinker’s Seafood --Hartford, CT
Hands down, best LOBSTER BISQUE!! It’s so good we’ve actually contemplated driving the three hours for a cup. Thick, creamy, and full of buttery lobster. Tinker’s itself is a very strange set-up. A seafood market in the front and an ‘order at the window and find a seat’ type of place on the left. The waiters will come out of the kitchen with your food, calling your number. Raise your hand and they’ll bring it over. The atmosphere is very casual, almost dingy, but they offer live music and a family friendly environment.
USE OUR SENSE: Order the bisque! And the plate of whole bellied clams was huge, too (turns out we didn’t like them, but if you do than it’s a win-win)!
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Pick up your fresh seafood on your way out; it’s cheaper and better than the day old stuff at the grocery store.
Virgilio's Italian Bakery --Gloucester, MA
Oh my, my! If we could vote Best Italian Bakery EVER, it would be Virgilio's! Words cannot describe how much we love this place, but I'll try. Or, they say actions speak louder than words, right? Well, we spent a week on vacation about 25 minutes away from Virgilio's. We just happened to stumble in to pick up a loaf of bread after the wafting scent drew us in. From then on, we were hooked. We visited Virgilio's everyday on our week vacation, and one day, we even went twice! It's a small Italian bakery, they all look the same so I won't waste time on that. Their tomato pie/pizza had homemade sauce smothered on top that was so yummy they jar it up for sale. The sandwiches are made right in front of you with a combination of marinated olives and pickles thrown on top. Mmmmmm...The bread is so delicious you'll eat a whole loaf before it even cools down, and the best part....the cannoli's are the best we've ever had. They are the size of a hot dog on a bun (one person can not finish it in a single sitting--although my husband of course tried) and the filling is so thick and creamy it's like eating a piece of cheesecake.
USE OUR SENSE: Go to Virgilio's! I don't care if you're an hour away--DETOUR!
SAVE YOUR CENTS: You can't. Everything is so yummy, you'll spend it all going back for more. But...it will be worth it.