Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Transcript of Online Discussion, March 5, 2012

Topic: Chat with Laura Raposa on Favorite Restaurants

Below is a transcript of a live online chat with Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald, which took place on Monday, March 5, 2012. The half-hour talk focused partly on some of Laura's favorite little-known restaurants in the Boston area, and it included viewer participation, with folks asking Laura questions toward the end. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]

Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, all! Welcome to another live online discussion on food and restaurants. A couple of weeks ago I talked with Jasper White of the Summer Shack restaurants and Dave Andelman of the Phantom Gourmet, and today I'm talking with Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald. For the next half hour or so, I'll be asking Laura about some of her favorite restaurants in the Boston area and beyond, with an emphasis on the more independent and lesser-known spots that are out there. Also, toward the end of the chat, I'll take some questions from a few of you for Laura to answer.

Marc H.: Laura, just checking to see if you've been able to log on...

Laura Raposa: Hello?

Marc H.: Hi, Laura! Welcome to the chat!

Laura Raposa: Phew. Glad to finally be here!

Marc H.: Thanks for being able to chat today! As I mentioned a minute ago, today I'd like to ask you about some of your favorite lesser-known restaurants in the Boston area and elsewhere in New England (and beyond, if we have time). But before we get into restaurant talk, perhaps you could tell folks a little about yourself? How did you get started in the media business? Where did you get your start?

Laura Raposa: I've worked at the Boston Herald for 29 years, starting as a copy girl as a senior at BU. And the rest is history.

Marc H.: I know that you have been a columnist for the Herald's Inside Track for awhile now and you're now writing for the newspaper's Forklift blog. Any other media-related projects going on right now, or anything having to do with food or cooking?

Laura Raposa: Sadly, no. I would love to talk about food on radio or TV, but except for rare appearances on "Phantom Gourmet," I have nothing going at the moment. :0(

Marc H.: Who were some of your influences for cooking when you were growing up? Do you have any specialities as far as cooking? Any particular cuisines?

Laura Raposa: Phew. Glad to finally be here!

Marc H.: Thanks for being able to chat today! As I mentioned a minute ago, today I'd like to ask you about some of your favorite lesser-known restaurants in the Boston area and elsewhere in New England (and beyond, if we have time). But before we get into restaurant talk, perhaps you could tell folks a little about yourself? How did you get started in the media business? Where did you get your start?

Laura Raposa: I know it's cliche, but as a kid in the late 60s and early 70s, I watched Julia Child on PBS. LOVED her. Also, my grandmothers were outstanding cooks though each had different styles. I also worked for a woman in the South End who had a B&B who really inspired me.

Laura Raposa: Gloria attended La Varenne and had owned a catering company in California. She really got me hooked.

Marc H.: Julia Child was one of a kind. I'm glad that people started to take notice of her once again thanks to the movie that came out awhile back.

Marc H.: So let's talk restaurants...

Laura Raposa: YES!

Marc H.: Actually, before we get started, one of our viewers already has a question for you! (To our other readers, I'll be taking questions toward the end, around 12:30.) Here is the question:

Lisa: Is there a favorite "hidden" restaurant that local celebs dine at?

Laura Raposa: South Street Diner gets a lot of celebs, but it's not very "hidden."

Marc H.: Very true. Surprisingly, I know a lot of people who have never heard of the place. Maybe because of its slightly out-of-the-way location.

Laura Raposa: You can find Pats at Christina's Fireside Grille.

Marc H.: And at Taso's in Norwood by the airport.

Laura Raposa: There you go...

Marc H.: So my first question is, where do you like to go in Boston proper and the immediate area around it? (Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Quincy) Any good spots that might be a bit under the radar?

Laura Raposa: I can't say I dine at under the radar type places in town except here on the South Shore. In Cambridge, Garden at the Cellar and Henrietta's Table are faves, as well as UpStairs. I did eat twice at a hole in the wall in Somerville -- Tony's. Loved the eggplant parm!

Marc H.: Tony's? Where is that? Is it still around?

Laura Raposa: Absolutely. I know how to get there, but damned if I know the street name!

Laura Raposa: It's a deli and in the back there's a restaurant. Not good for doing interviews, though. I always have to ask them to turn down the music.

Laura Raposa: Diva

Marc H.: That's not Tony's Foodland on Broadway, is it?

Laura Raposa: Could be.

Marc H.: I'll have to look up places called Tony's after our chat. So what are some of your faves on the South Shore? Any favorites in the western suburbs or the North Shore?

Laura Raposa: South Shore, hands down, my favorites are Tosca and the Square Cafe. But we have a Boston-quality restaurant here in Scituate called Oro, which is spectacular. The chef/owner worked for Evan Deluty at Stella.

Marc H.: Oro gets mentioned a lot, it seems.

Kira: Sounds like she is talking about Vinny's at night in the back of Vinny's Subs and Deli...

Marc H.: Hmmmm, what do you think. Laura? Could it have been Vinny's that you were thinking of?

Laura Raposa: My husband and I love the brunch at Oro, but Arthur & Pat's in Marshfield is still the best deal for breakfast.

Marc H.: I still need to get to Arthur and Pat's. Whenever I'm in that area I go to Haddad's for some pretty tasty seafood.

Laura Raposa: Vinny's ... Could be. I'm checking.

acastigl: I've heard great things about Arthur and Pats!

Marc H.: Me too!

Laura Raposa: Jimmy Burke's wife opened a little hole in the wall called "Backyard Burger" here in Scituate, too

Marc H.: Lots of great restaurants on the South Shore, that's for sure.

Laura Raposa: Steven Tyler LOVES it there.

Marc H.: Speaking of which, Kickass Cupcakes is coming out with a Steven Tyler cupcake, but I digress....

Laura Raposa: Ha!

Laura Raposa: It's Vinny's, BTW. I just checked with my source. ;o)

Marc H.: Ahhh, excellent. Thanks, Kira!

Marc H.: Are there spots between Routes 128 and 495 that you like to go to? How about some road-trip worthy restaurants in New England? Places such as Pepe's in New Haven or the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH, for example. Are there any eateries that you are willing to travel to?

Laura Raposa: YES. The Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, Vt. is my all-time diner pick. I celebrate all my birthdays at the Back Eddy in Westport, although a little-known place called Marguerite's in Central Village has a great dinner menu. Another good breakfast haunt, too.

Marc H.: Marguerite's? Where is Central Village? Is that on the South Coast?

Laura Raposa: In Westport.

Laura Raposa: In my family, people travel miles just to get good danish.

Marc H.: Hah! Good to know about that place. Do you know Fall River and New Bedford pretty well? One of my faves is Estoril in Fall River, which has some really good Portuguese fare.

Laura Raposa: My cousin, Russ, packs the kids in the car and travels to Worcester for danish. I will drive to the end of the earth for good bread. It's what we do. My family is in the baking business.

Laura Raposa: My parents love Estoril!

Marc H.: It really is a special place.

Laura Raposa: Where are my commenters???

Marc H.: Yes, where are they? How about some questions for Laura? Do you want to ask her about any restaurants or anything food/related?

Laura Raposa: I'm hungry for some questions!

BeingBostonian: Any updates on Top Chef to Boston campaign? What do you think the chances are on it coming?

Laura Raposa: Chances are veeeerrryyyy good. It would be so great for them to film here. I was an "alternate" on the first season of "top Chef" when they had amateurs.

acastigl: Do you think Bobby Valentine should open a spot in Boston?

Laura Raposa: Absolutely not. Focus on baseball, Bobby.

Laura Raposa: Let Jerry Remy sling the hash.

everymoms: I wanted to ask about that Top Chef experience, which was not very good for you, unfortunately. Can you tell us some behind the scenes dirt on how that works?

Laura Raposa: I made it on "Master Chef," not "Top Chef." It was a horrible experience for me. Just remember, it's not real.

acastigl: how about a later closing time for restaurants, bars and clubs here in Boston?

Laura Raposa: It's so parochial here, isn't it? Yes, we need places where you can grab something to eat after 10!

Marc H.: I agree for the most part, though if bars stay open later, the subways should probably run later as well.

Laura Raposa: Absolutely true about the T.

Laura Raposa: I noted the other night at Wahlburgers in Hingham that they're open to midnight. Alleluia!

Marc H.: Burgers at midnight. Definitely a good thing...

acastigl: How are you liking the dining scene in the Herald's new seaport neighborhood?

Laura Raposa: We had a heck of a hoe-down at Jerry Remy's the other night. Thus far, we've had Au Bon Pain, Sal's and J. Pace for lunch as well as the deli downstairs. We expect when the weather gets better we'll explore some more. I would LOVE a couple of food trucks to set up shop down there in the spring and summer!

Marc H.: Oh, there will be food trucks down there, that's my guess.

acastigl: Yes...the seaport would be great for food trucks!

Marc H.: How about 2 or 3 more questions, then call it a day?

acastigl: I mean do you favor a later closing time for bars and clubs?

acastigl: Do you think having a later closing time could make Boston a more attractive and world class city?

Laura Raposa: Yes, I do think later closings would make Boston a more attractive destination for conventioneers and tourists. I hate to say it, but New York is the city that never sleeps.

acastigl: Good point Laura. With casinos staying open 24 hours a day in Boston, maybe it is time for the city to consider later serving times for bars and clubs.

Marc H.: So true about NYC. What's closing time there--3:00 AM? 4:00 AM? Never?

everymoms: without public transportation it would be impossible

Laura Raposa: It's true about the transportation.

acastigl: I think later transit would benefit bars and restaurants too, but money is the problem.

Laura Raposa: Money is always the problem!

Marc H.: Ok, last question, and a good one to end this on (because it's about grilled cheese).

acastigl: Laura, Have you tried Roxy's Grilled Cheese?

Laura Raposa: NO and I want to very, very badly.

acastigl: It is excellent!

acastigl: You will not be disappointed

acastigl: Roxy's needs to come to the seaport district soon

Marc H.: And on that note, I'm craving a grilled cheese sandwich now.

Laura Raposa: I want to work in a food truck one day. I think it would be fun.

Laura Raposa: I'd wear Spanx as to save space.

Marc H.: I'd like to open a Kosher deli food truck some day.

Laura Raposa: OMG. Brilliant!

acastigl: I agree...sounds like fun, but a lot of hard work too!

acastigl: I think downtown Boston needs a real deli somewhere downtown btw

Marc H.: That would be nice, wouldn't it?

acastigl: Maybe in Downtown Crossing?

Laura Raposa: I am not afraid of hard work. I've got one more thing...

Laura Raposa: Last spring, when I went to NYC to cover the Beard Awards, I ate TWICE at an outdoor, pop-up restaurant encampment in Madison Square Park.

Marc H.: Madison Square. Also known as the green space next to Eataly. :-D

Laura Raposa: Yes! That one! I thought what a great idea for Boston, but when I told a Boston restaurateur about it, she said, "It would never happen here. No many regs."

Laura Raposa: Eataly had a kiosk, there was a taco guy, a guy with a portable pizza oven, artisan gelato makers, BEER, it was insane. I could see something like that on the Greenway or some real public space. But, alas, who would lead the charge?

Marc H.: Don't look at me. :-b

Marc H.: By the way, I've decided that Eataly is just too crowded for me. I'm back at the Chelsea Market once again (and Murray's cheese in the Village).

Laura Raposa: Again, forgive my typos. I have a fat cat on my lap.

Laura Raposa: Where the heck are the Andelmans when you need them?

acastigl: I don't think @mayortommenino would let regulations stop a good and innovative idea like this from happening here

acastigl: it sounds good

acastigl: I think it's a great idea and we should advocate for it her

Laura Raposa: How about Murray's Bagels? OMG

Marc H.: Murray's anything is about as good as it gets. Try their pasta sometime.

acastigl: Why can't Boston have something like this?

Laura Raposa: It's a damn good idea. I wish someone else would think of it. It was such a great pop-up idea.

Marc H.: Ok, it's about that time. Thanks so much for chatting, Laura, and thanks to all of our viewers for joining us!

Marc H.: We do have one final question, however, if you would like to try to answer it! :-)

swag5997: My family and I are always eating in Chinatown. Seeking variety, do you have any recommendations for great places to eat in Chinatown? I'm looking for authenticity.

Laura Raposa: You're asking the wrong girl, swag. I only know bad Chinese....

Marc H.: swag, East Ocean City and Hong Kong eatery are very good.

acastigl: One last thing Laura....what do you think of Olives reopening soon.


Marc H.: I hear it's opening soon. Of course I've been saying that for awhile now.

Laura Raposa: For the love of God, would someone open that restaurant? Hello, Todd?

acastigl: I'm not sure, but it sounds close

Laura Raposa: The Boston Licensing Board gave him enough passes on keeping his license.

Marc H.: It is definitely time to go now. Thanks again for talking about food today, Laura! It was a lot of fun. I need to seek out Central Village now.

Laura Raposa: Thank you! Now, I have to go find a grilled cheese.

Marc H.: Thanks to all for participating today! By the way, another chat is coming later this week. More details to come...