Sometimes, the most "invisible" restaurants in a given city or town also happen to be among the best, even though they are mainly known to local residents and not a whole lot of others. Take Avellino's in Medford, for instance; in a city known for its Italian dining spots, this unpretentious little restaurant just off Route 93 holds its own when it comes to sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and grill items, yet it is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as some of its fellow Medford eateries. Because of this, Avellino's can easily be considered your classic hidden gem, and one that is quite a bit different from nearly any other restaurant that has been featured on this site.
Avellino's resides in a nondescript strip of businesses in a part of Medford that is mostly made up of warehouses, commercial buildings, auto shops, and gas stations. The anonymous exterior is more or less matched by a basic interior that feels like a mix between a cafeteria and a sub shop, with a few rows of tables leading up to the counter service area and kitchen in the back. Known in part for its catering business, Avellino's has the feel of a no-nonsense place, with folks working hard in the kitchen preparing large amounts of food from scratch while others behind the counter ring up patrons and hand out takeout orders (the takeout business at Avellino's is big, especially with all the businesses nearby).
Instead of mentioning what is on the menu at Avellino's, it may be easier to mention what isn't on the menu, as they have a seemingly endless variety of dishes. A few samples include a freshly made Caesar salad with a zesty dressing; arancini that are the size of baseballs, or perhaps even softballs; an earthy-tasting escarole soup that is available only on certain days; an Italian sub that rivals some of the best in the city; a substantial turkey club that includes real turkey rather than the processed kind; a similarly large ham and cheese that is big enough for two meals; a steak and cheese that includes tender and non-gristly meat; an old-world prosciutto and provolone sub that can be ordered with peppers or pickles; a similarly old-school potato and egg sub that comes with provolone cheese; a chicken parmigiana sub that overflows with tiny pieces of white meat and is served on what is basically an entire loaf of bread (as you've probably figured out by now, the subs at Avellino's are huge); a very messy but tremendous eggplant sub; a steak tip sub that has a sharp, tangy flavor from the marinade; a meatball sub that includes some of the best homemade meatballs that this writer has had in the Boston area; a chicken provacala dish with both roasted peppers and hot peppers, onions, garlic, and bacon, all in a white wine sauce; a veal dish with mushrooms, artichokes, and mozzarella cheese in a lemon wine sauce; linguine carbonara that is big enough for two, if not three meals; an impressive thin-crust pizza that can be ordered with any of nearly 20 different toppings, and for those who are looking for a full meal, a marvelous meatloaf plate that comes with a heaping veggies and roasted potatoes. Avellino's also serves beer and wine, and they offer breakfast seven days a week.
Avellino's might not be the most attractive place to eat at in Medford (and parking can be very tough and frustrating depending on when you go), but it is a true local spot that has huge portions of good food at mostly low prices. Plus, since the place is so little-known (especially outside of Medford), you may indeed get bragging rights on being the first person among your friends and family to try this little restaurant out.
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