Boston Cheap Eats, A few favorites
RINO’S PLACE, EAST BOSTON
Rino’s has been in business for 24 years, originally opened by Rino and Anna DiCenso, then they in turn handed over the business to their Son Chef Anthony DiCenso. Born and raised in Italy, Chef Anthony has made Rino’s place what it is today. Because they are located in a congested residential section of East Boston, parking is quite a challenge. The interior is quite small with maybe 12 tables so a wait of up to 2 ½ hours is not uncommon. The menu is reasonably priced menu and they serve large portion sizes. They are known for their huge homemade ravioli, veal and red sauce. Many off the employees are long-timers so there is a lot of familiarity with the regular customers. It feels warm and comfortable inside and you begin to wish you too were part of this family.
We started with half orders of seafood stuffed mushrooms and crab cakes. Both were flavorful and delicious and more than enough for two people. Next we tried the shrimp scampi served with garlic bread. The shrimp were slightly overcooked but the fragrant sauce and perfectly toasted bread more than made up for it. A garden salad came with our meal. The salad was crisp and fresh, served on a cold plate and the house dressing was peppery and everything you want from an Italian dressing. For entrees we ordered the eggplant parmigiana, added veal parmigiana and included homemade cavatelli that was cooked perfectly. The veal was not as thin as you usually see it, but it was extremely tender and had a delicate meat flavor. I find that so often veal that you get in restaurants is mild and flavorless.
Our server was amusing, friendly and knowledgeable. Mike gave us a lot of insight into the menu and gave us several recommendations. After dinner he brought us a complimentary piece of almond cream cake for Sharon’s birthday. Mike also asked if we wanted some extra sauce on our leftovers which impressed me as servers hardly ever offer that. There is never enough sauce on leftovers to reheat.
They only accept reservations for 6 or more people and everyone in your party must be present to be seated. They do not accept call-ahead seating and they also only hold your reservation for 10 minutes. Despite Rino’s receiving many accolades, we did not expect it to live up to the hype. Instead we found there is a reason for the accolades and write-ups about them; it’s because they really are darn good! I recommend you give Rino’s Place a try if you haven’t been before. You will enjoy a delicious dinner with plenty of leftovers to take home. 258 Saratoga Street, Boston www.rinosplace.com
TENOCH MEXICAN EATERY, BOSTON, MEDFORD AND SOMERVILLE
If you want delicious, authentic and inexpensive Mexican food, this is the place to go. It is in the former M3 spot in Davis Square and although small, it is warm and inviting inside. The menu is on a blackboard on the wall in front of the order counter. The staff is friendly and helpful about interpreting some of the less known things on the menu.
The way to go here is the torta sandwiches. I love the idea of this Mexican sandwich but usually disappointed in the product. Generally, tortas do not have much meat and the bread is soggy and falls apart. At Tenoch it is the exact opposite; they fill the sandwiches meat and use authentic Telera rolls that are soft but sturdy. I had the chicharrone (Fried pork with pieces of skin) and Sharon had the Campechana (chorizo and carnitas). You can choose from 15 different fillings including steak, shredded beef, lamb, fish, fried or grilled chicken, pork prepared several different ways and many combinations. All tortas come with beans, avocado, tomatoes, Oaxaca cheese, onions and chipotle mayo and they are $8.
We also had a carnitas burrito which is $6 and comes with rice, beans and your choice of fillings. Again, they do not skimp on ingredients and the burritos are huge. The Quesadilla De Maiz is a corn tortilla with melted cheese, crema, queso fresco, and your choice of corn/mushroom, squash blossom, salted beef and cactus, potatoes and chorizo, steak or chicharrone. The price? 8.50. The regular quesadilla is $5.50. Understandably the restaurant gets quite busy but the line moves quickly and you have your food before you know it. They have several nice Mexican beers to choose from including a 32 oz bottle of Corona Familiar. Tenoch Mexican was all around impressive and I plan to be a frequent visitor. www.tenochmexican.com
TASTE OF CAMBRIDGE, CHARLES RIVER RESERVATION, TUESDAY, JULY 11TH from 5:30pm to 8:30 pm
In its 15th year, the Taste of Cambridge has tantalized participants taste buds, bringing the city’s best restaurants and others together in one location. This event is one of the great food sampling experiences in the region featuring 100+ local restaurants and local specialty butcher, cheese, honey, wine, beer, specialty drinks and coffee purveyors. Come and sample food and drink from the likes of Bambara, Beat Brasserie, Forage, Freepoint Hotel, Les Sablons, Puritan & Company, The Smoke Shop BBQ and many others. This is one of the best TASTES OF that you can go to.
There’s plenty of potables available in the form of beer, wine, and cocktails. This year watch Cambridge mixologists compete to make the most innovative and best-tasting mock-tail in the “Peoples Republic”. Local celebrity judges will decide the winner! Tickets are $15 for kids, $50 for general admission, and $75 for a “Taste and Spirit” pass, which gets you access to special cocktails in addition to all the tasty treats. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit local nonprofits providing drug treatment and prevention. See the official event website for details, tickets, and a full list of participating restaurants. www.tasteofcambridge.com
SANGRIA & ROSÉ FEST, Thursday, July 27th from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
This is an interactive social event geared towards young professionals 20s, 30s, and 40s. Hundreds of Boston’s young professionals will gather to sample and discover delicious summer sangria and rosé on the upper rotunda of the hotel. Your ticket enters you in a raffle to win items valued at over $1000. Very limited seating available. No refunds, exchanges or credits. All guests must be 21+ with proper ID unless otherwise noted. Seaport Hotel & Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston, MA www.eventbrite.com/e/sangria-rose-fest-29
KITCHEN TIP: ARE YOU KEEPING YOUR CONDIMENTS IN THE PROPER PLACE?
Ketchup: Acidity from the salt and tomatoes helps ketchup keep longer, but the final use-by date depends on the brand and quality of the ingredients. Most brands recommend you refrigerate your ketchup to keep it fresh for six to nine months.
Mayo: It goes in the refrigerator. Always, always, always! The acid from the lemon helps reduce the growth of bacteria, but it still contains eggs and dairy, which means that you MUST REFRIGERATE after opening.
Mustard: None of the ingredients in most mustard go bad, so if you don’t like it cold, you can store it in the cabinet instead of the refrigerator.
BBQ Sauce: After opening, it keeps for up to a month at room temperature, but it will last as long as nine months in the refrigerator.
Worcestershire Sauce: You should refrigerate Worcestershire sauce after opening to preserve its flavor. If stored under the right conditions, French’s promises up to 24 months of flavor.
Vinegar: Given its acidic nature, vinegar lasts a very long time. It may undergo color changes over time, but it’ll stay edible essentially forever.
Maple Syrup: According to the Karo syrup website, it doesn’t need refridgeration. The high sugar content helps preserve it for a long time. In fact, you can pretty much store it in your cabinet forever without worrying about it.
Hot Sauces: Hot sauces do not need refridgeration. It is full of preservatives like vinegar and salt, so it’s tough for bacteria to form very fast in most sauces. According to companies like Tabasco, you should store hot sauce in a cool, dry place and use them before the expiration date on the bottle.
Salsas: Comprised of ingredients, salsas refrigeration. In fact, it’s best to consume salsa within seven days after you open it. And if it starts to change color or smell funky, just throw it out.
Nutella: The label says no to refrigerate or microwave Nutella. Best to keep it in a cool, dry place. Oh, and don’t eat it after it has expired, obviously.
Honey: Honey’s natural properties pretty much make it last forever. Keep your honey in a sealed container at room temperature if you do not want it to crystallize.
Soy Sauce: The lactic acid in the sauce impedes the growth of bacteria, so there’s nothing wrong with storing it in a cabinet or pantry (as long as you don’t add water to dilute it). But according to the Kikkoman website, keeping it in the refrigerator helps preserve its flavor and quality.