Just south of the Hub a new food desitnation takes shape
A sizzling new food desitnation is taking shape just south of Boston.
NOT MANY FOOD LOVERS predicted that Quincy—Boston’s immediate southern suburb—would emerge as a cuttingedge culinary hotspot. However, the “City of Presidents” is fast becoming a go-to restaurant destination, serving quality fare that rivals anything you’d find in the Back Bay or South End.
Ground zero of the local gastronomic sea-change is Quincy Center, where a recently constructed park now connects the United First Parish Church (where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are entombed) and Quincy City Hall, an imposing example of Greek Revival architecture. Only footsteps away, you’ll find a slew of restaurants well worth the exploration.
When Devin Adams—well named for this city, but no relation to John—decided to go into business for himself, he looked to Quincy and opened The Townshend, a small, smart, cocktail-centric restaurant named for British parliamentary acts that provoked the Revolution. Both the drinks and the menu—overseen by former Row 34 sous-chef Alex Diaz—are carefully designed and crafted: Highlights include seared pork belly with thyme-scented cannellini beans. Former Yvonne’s pastry chef Kate Holowchick does desserts. “A lot of (our staff) live out here,” says Adams, a former bartender at Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar. “We’re swarming with talent.”
“I was born in China but I’m as Quincy as they come,” says Jimmy Liang of J|P Fuji Group, owners of 10 pan-Asian/sushi restaurants in and around Boston. “I grew up here, went to school here; I’m a Quincy guy.” With its blond wood and mustardcolored décor, Liang’s new Fuji at WoC is as elegant as the cuisine. Sashimi of fatty yellowtail decorated with ginger foam and
If you believe in culinary feng shui then perhaps there’s something in Quincy’s energy flow conducive to restaurant growth
edible pansies is served in a lacquered box filled with dry ice forcing you to blow away the fog before every bite. For special occasions, a private dining room with its own kitchen offers an omakase (chef’s selection) experience for up to 16 guests.
If you believe in culinary feng shui then perhaps there’s something in Quincy’s energy flow conducive to restaurant growth. This is, after all, the city where Howard Johnson and Dunkin’ Donuts began. But until recently, Alba steak house (which opened in 2001 in the old Quincy Trust Company building) was a lonely outpost of fine dining in Quincy Center. Today’s bustling dining scene prompted Alba owner Leo Keka to open Zef Cicchetti + Raw Bar in January.
With its brick walls, wooden beamed ceiling, and wraparound, rainforest brown marble bar, Zef is a leisurely, laidback place for shellfish, crudo, Italian small plates, pizza, and homemade pastas. The chestnutstuffed ravioli in rich Parmesan crema with fried sage leaves and heirloom cranberries are especially delicious. The wooden wine rack by the rear wall is from Anthony’s Pier 4, the iconic Boston restaurant where Keka started out as a dishwasher in 1991, after fleeing his native Albania.
If Alba was Quincy Center’s first serious restaurant, Fat Cat, which opened a decade ago, was its first unabashedly fun restaurant. What this casual comfort food café lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in portion size and geniality. Regulars love the “signature” mac & cheese, made with a pound of corkscrew shaped cavatappi pasta, four cheeses, marinated tomatoes and a ton of garlic. Lobster, shrimp, steak, chicken or hot dogs can be added, right up to the off-menu “ultimate” mac & cheese, which boasts all of the above plus scallops and crabmeat. “It can feed a family,” says bartender Christine Sullivan, “and you’re more than welcome to share it.”
Besides our second and sixth Presidents, notable Quincy residents have included John Hancock, actresses Ruth Gordon and Lee Remick, novelist John Cheever, and the Dropkick Murphys. And then there’s Kerri Lynch-Delaney, owner of 16C Restaurant, a cheerful room with large windows and an open kitchen. A 1994 North Quincy High graduate, LynchDelaney has cooking in her DNA—she’s the niece of Boston superstar chef Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters), who consulted on the menu. Excellent, thin-crust pizza, with toppings like fig and prosciutto, are presented on overturned sheet pans. The dish that has people talking is the Quiet Man steak tips, popularized at a now-closed Southie pub, owned by Lynch-Delaney’s father, Paul. The marinade is a closely held secret. “People think it’s ketchup and Coke, but it’s really not,” says Lynch-Delaney.
In recent weeks, Boston Vietnamese noodle soup chain Pho Pasteur opened in Quincy Center along with South Shore/ Hyannis favorite KKatie’s Burger Bar. In the coming months, look for Shaking Crab (Cajun seafood), Café Gelato, and Belfry Hall, a beer restaurant from the owners of The Townshend.
Bostonians aren’t shy about venturing outside the city limits in search of a great meal. The good news about Quincy is that nobody has to travel far from the Hub. It takes just over 20 minutes to go from Downtown Crossing to Quincy Center via the Red Line—so book a table and bring your appetite.
WHERE TO EAT IN QUINCY
The Townshend, 1250 Hancock St., 617.481.9694; Fuji at WoC, 1420 Hancock St., 617.770.1546; Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar, 1472 Hancock St., 617.481.4848; Fat Cat, 24 Chestnut St., 617.471.4363; 16C Restaurant, 16 Cottage St., 617.481.2170.
EAT, DRINK, RELAX From top, beet salad at The Townshend; cocktails at Fat Cat; back dining room at Zef. Previous page, clay pot, Fuji at WoC