Roslindale/West Roxbury neighborhood guide: Eat
Masona Grill's chef/owner Manuel (call him “Manny”) Sifnugel draws influence for his New American cuisine from his Peruvian homeland. Must-tries include shrimp ceviche infused with orange aji sauce and cilantro, coffee-rubbed sirloin steak topped with spicy chimichurri sauce and Manny's signature paella, which pairs traditional seafood with chorizo. Oversized, colorful oil paintings lend a lively feel to the cozy, romantic space, on a quiet street adjacent to the Highland commuter rail stop.
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Al Wadi Lebanese Restaurant
Don't let the restaurant's boxy white exterior mislead you—Al Wadi brings genuine Middle Eastern swank to the VFW Parkway. The dining room, outfitted with a floor-to-ceiling wine rack, curvaceous mirrored portals and an LED-backlit bar, effortlessly blends the elegant and the exotic. Head chef Walid Massad, who perfected his craft in his native Beirut, specializes in upscale Lebanese classics like golden-fried falafel, spice-kissed chicken and lamb skewers and samak tajine, a dish that combines chunks of baked sea bass tossed with tahini and crumbled nuts.
Who needs to visit the North End when Delfino churns out some of the city’s best northern Italian cuisine right on South Street? You can practically melt into the open-faced ravioli layered with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a creamy seafood sauce. Grilled meats—including a divine bone-in pork chop drizzled with marsala wine and truffle oil—are extraordinary, and regular specials include the likes of pan-seared swordfish in a lime-ginger butter. All desserts are made in-house—try the warm chocolate bread pudding—and the casual, 15-table space overlooks a buzzing open kitchen.
If you're tapped out on tamales and bored of tacos, why not introduce yourself to the arepa? That's the claim to fame of this cheap, cheerful, out-of-the-way spot on Washington Street near the Dedham border. The corncake sandwich is aVenezuelan street food staple, either grilled or fried and stuffed with your choice of filling. Try roasted pork, chicken salad or queso blanco with black beans (the aptly-named "domino"). Be sure to request "the green sauce," an intensely garlicky, parsley-based paste, and try out the paella and plantains too.
Gorge yourself on a gangster wrap or grab a rugelach to go at this beloved deli/bakery combo. Temptations include the "Uncle Junior" panini, a breaded chicken cutlet with gooey mozzarella, spinach and tomato on focaccia bread slathered with chipotle mayonnaise. For dessert, there are cookies, cupcakes and pastries galore. The original, side-by-side locations on Centre Street in West Roxbury have been so successful that secondary branches of both were in order: Sugar Baking Co. and Restaurant on Washington Street in Roslindale serves up breakfast and lunch, and there's a second deli (with small bakery) in Jamaica Plain.
The doughy scent of fresh-baked breads wafting down Corinth Street will lead you to Fornax, where bread-making is elevated to an art form. The signature boules, crisp on the exterior and puffy inside, include semi-sourdough, multigrain, pumpernickel, walnut-raisin and rye. If you like a little protein and vegetables with your carbs, Fornax serves up sandwiches, salads and wonderful homemade soups—the carrot-ginger shouldn't be missed. Drop by on the weekends for coffee, a scone and some quality time curled up with a newspaper.
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