You’ve made it through the first week on campus—heck maybe you even made it through the first two weeks—and the initial exhaustion is starting to fade. You relax into your life on campus, and start enjoying it, noticing the little details that you missed in the haze of new classes and people. But you also start noticing other things, like the fact that McElroy has essentially served the same dish for three nights in a row, and you decide that it’s time to venture off campus, and discover the culinary world that Boston has to offer. So here it is, a starter list of exemplary Boston-area culinary establishments (none too far from campus) that might just satisfy your cravings for a home-cooked meal.
Nestled in Newton Centre (so Newton freshmen, you’re in luck), this gem of a ramen shop should be at the top of every Boston College student’s list. While LBD’s owner, chef David Punch, first made waves with his nearby restaurant, Sycamore (a good destination for parent’s weekend dinners), and decided to open a diner devoted to ramen in order to honor his love for the dish. The menu offers many varieties of ramen, which with a carefully crafted broths and attention to flavors are delicious, in addition to a selection of small plates, like the customer favorite LBD Hawaiian Patty. Just make sure to get the papaya salad, which offers a burst of flavor and zing that you definitely can’t find within a dining hall.
To those of looking for fresh salads, bright Italian-style sandwiches, and a delicious cappuccino: head straight for this café located on The Street at Chestnut Hill. Right next to Star Market—so you can take the grocery shuttle—Ronsky’s opened last fall as a pop-up shop, and became permanent due to its popularity. Between the elegant flavors of every item, all created by the James Beard Award-winning chef Ron Suhanosky, and the homey-chic ambience, there is nothing not to love. For those in need of something sweeter, make sure to get the zeppole (an Italian donut) that Suhanosky makes fresh to order and serves piping hot.
When Eataly opened in the Prudential Center last winter, it made waves. This is because when it comes to Italian food, Eataly has everything you could possible want—something very appealing to Bostonians. Full restaurants, groceries, café counters, a cannoli cart—you name it, and it’s probably somewhere in the store. But be warned: Eataly is an experience, and a crowded one at that. Be prepared to wait for a seat if you’re dining in, or to battle the hordes of hungry customers if you’re just passing through, but rest assured: it’s worth it. Everything is made in house, and many of the ingredients and groceries are sourced locally, but most importantly, everything is simply delicious. Just a tip: If you’re getting gelato, make sure to get the chocolate fountain addition. And for those in need of a cheap lunch, the huge slices of pizza-esque focaccia are just $3.
Another Newton Centre option, this Italian eatery has been opened for a little over a year, and delighting students and locals alike with its comforting pasta dishes. Although the restaurant also offers sandwiches, gelato, and other Italian goods, make sure to grab a plate of pasta while you stop in. Pair a pasta of your choice with any one of the homemade sauces (we recommend the famous Fedora sauce), and prepare yourself to get the taste of homemade comfort that you’ve been looking for. And remember, if you stop in on a Sunday or a Wednesday, a serving of pasta is only $4.99.
Sometimes you just need a donut, and Union Square’s nearby Brookline location is just a short T ride away. Thanks to its innovative flavors, and the deliciousness that comes when something is made from scratch each morning, Union Square is a Boston favorite—and one that you certainly need to try. Maybe even give their new breakfast sandwiches a try, because the odds are that they’re fantastic.
Just a short ride into Coolidge Corner, Zaftigs is the Jewish delicatessen that you didn’t know you were missing. This one will certainly dish up a dose of comfort food, the name references a plump Jewish mother, and will make sure that you don’t head back to campus with a millimeter of space left in your stomach. Make sure to get the Zaftig Combo and one of the Loaded Latkes and you won’t be disappointed.
If you are in the mood for a pinch of whimsy paired with your dessert, take the B link to the Harvard Avenue stop and then walk three minutes to Beard Papa’s. This crème puff shop is always packed with students, all clamoring for one of the fresh confections. With flavors that range from vanilla and chocolate to green tea or dulce de leche, it’s hard to go wrong, and you might just have to get more than one.
You can never have too many bakeries in your life, and Rosie’s is sure to make it to the top of your list. Also located near Star Market, this little bakery is just delicious, and sure to make you feel better after a hard week of classes. Make sure to get one (or five) of the amazing cookies that sit tantalizingly behind the display, and then take a Chocolate Boom-Boom back to share with your friends (trust me on this one).
Another—very worthy—stop on the grocery shuttle is the Chestnut Hill Mall, but just so that you can visit these two places alone. First head to Frank Pepe’s for a fine example of thin-crusted pizza, and then head next door for one of the best gelatos that you’ve ever tasted. With a selection of flavors made fresh every day, Moreno Gelato’s gelato is almost impossible to describe, but it might be somewhere close to heaven.
This tiny bagel shop is worth the Uber ride to Cambridge, I promise. Grab your friends and head to Bagelsaurus for an early morning weekend breakfast, but prepare yourself for the line out the door. The bagel sandwiches on the menu are spectacular, but if you want to bring them to-go, grab a baker’s dozen and skip the line altogether. Just makes sure you get there early, because the chances are they’ll sell out fast.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins, Madeleine D’Angelo