North American eateries

Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 24. The scale used to be 0 to 10, so restaurants written about before 2012 may have only had their ratings adjusted by formula and not by hand (hence all the 2s, 5s, 8s, etc.) The scale works as follows:

PRO
24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
pro
15 14 13 12 11 10
mixed
9 8 7 6 5 4
con
3 2 1
CON
0

An asymmetrical 0 to 24 scale may not be intuitive, I realize. But as a rule of thumb: a double-digit score means I liked it, while a single-digit score... less so. Also, as you might expect, scores from many years ago may not be very reliable, so do check the dates.

Click on the column titles to sort the entries!

Name Cuisine Address Last update Score
Antonio's PizzaPizzaN. Pleasant & Main, Amherst, MA2018-03-2517
This slice shop keeps several dozen pizzas on hand (no joke!) so that any of their fifty or so varieties is ready to be popped into the oven and reheated. As pizza, it's passable. But a quality version of a classic is not the selling point here. If you want a slice with mozzarella, sauce, and one topping, go somewhere else. Go to Antonio's for a slice with avocadoes, sour cream, pico de gallo, cheddar, provolone and tortilla chips.
Richardson's CandyCandyUS-5 & Pleasant, Deerfield, MA2018-03-2512
I remembered that I really liked the chocolate-covered macadamias here. More recently I had about 5% of a box of chocolates from here and it was okay.
Bart'sIce creamN. Pleasant & Kellogg, Amherst, MA2018-03-2511
No cutesy "smoosh-in" gimmicks, just good ice cream that makes this clearly the better of Hampshire County's two ice cream institutions — though the names are admittedly pretty damn cutesy, in the Ben & Jerry's mold. Take "Three Geeks and a Redhead," which is coconut ice cream with chocolate chunks, brownies and a raspberry ripple. Silly name. But I'd still buy it all the time if they sold pints of it at my local Safeway 3000 miles away from this shop.
Smoothie IslandSmoothiesHolyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA2018-03-251
I remembered loving something here. Later research revealed that it was the frozen strawberry lemonade. I got a frozen peach lemonade instead. It was awful. I guess I should have gone with the strawberry. Or maybe I only liked the way one particular person made these drinks 16 years ago.
Judie'sEclecticN. Pleasant btw Main/Kellogg, Amherst, MA2018-03-2414
Crazy portion size here —as I write this it's been a month since I visited, and I still haven't lost all the weight I gained from this one meal. Because, like, you want to eat all the food you they give you. On this most recent visit (my first in 13 years!) I started with a half order of the veggie potato skins (dipped in tempura batter, fried, topped with black beans, fire-roasted corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and melted cheddar, and served with creamy onion dip), then got the vegetarian dinner (risotto cakes served on black bean sauce with mascarpone cheese, topped with grilled portabello mushroom slices, fire-roasted corn, zucchini, broccoli, diced fresh tomatoes, and cilantro) with a popover and a side of apple butter. I REGRET NOTHING.
La FiorentinaItalian bakeryArmory & Pleasant, Northampton, MA2018-03-2410
I remembered liking the little cakelike chocolate cookies dusted with nut flakes. They still had 'em! They were still pretty good!
the Black SheepSandwiches and moreMain btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA2005-07-2211
Somehow it took me three years to get around to trying Amherst's premier sandwich shop. The sandwiches are good, there's a wide variety of beverages and snacks and baked goods and things, and you have to like a place with a whole section of the menu dedicated to mocking Bush Administration figures.
the Lone WolfBreakfast/lunchMain btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA2005-07-2115
Jen and I went to this place knowing nothing more than the name and the fact that it might possibly be open for breakfast. It was, and the result was the best breakfast I've had in Massachusetts by a wide margin. I got crepes filled with wild leeks, mushrooms and polenta and topped with a drizzle of rosemary-tomato sauce and home fries. Jennifer got blueberry almond French toast with strawberry-rhubarb compote. Mine was so delicious I cleaned my plate. Jennifer has a tiny stomach and could only eat half of hers. I was no longer hungry, but her meal was also so delicious that I ate the rest of it anyway. Since then I have tried many other dishes and the level of quality has been high but not as transcendent.
Mimmo'sPizzaPleasant btw Armory/Hampton, Northampton, MA2005-07-1610
Biiiiig slices, and quite unlike the ones at Antonio's: crackerlike crust, a thin layer of well-done cheese. Sometimes hostile service from scary people, though.
BelaCrunchyMasonic & Center, Northampton, MA2005-07-022
Tofu or tempeh? Yeah, it's one of these. You figure something's not right when the staff keeps pre-emptively warning you about the food you've ordered. Potato leek soup was thin green gruel, salad was a big pile of beets, noodles were hot to disguise their lack of flavor. This is the sort of place Matthew Amster-Burton had in mind when he wrote about the attitude that "you should buy the food but not enjoy it too much, as that would be disharmonic with nature."
Brew HahaCafeMarshall btw Center/Main, North Adams, MA2005-05-1413
This is a small, crowded coffee house and breakfast/lunch place where I got a very good bagel sandwich with eggs, tomatoes and gouda.
the Dove's NestDinerMA-116 & Clark Mountain, Sunderland, MA2005-04-041
An unpleasant reminder of everything bad about rural life. Bad food served by people who are nasty to you if they haven't known you for twenty years. While I was eating an interracial couple paid up and left and the moment they were out the door the staff and one of the customers started badmouthing them.
Luna PizzaPizzaFarmington btw Walden/La Salle, West Hartford, CT2004-10-2118
Forget New Haven: where Connecticut pizza is concerned, this place is the best. They use fresh mozzarella exclusively, so a standard pizza is basically a margherita — and a very good one, with sauce, crust, cheese and seasonings all doing fine work — though a wide array of toppings besides basil is available, and they're great. Peppers have that sauteed taste like at Di Fara; broccoli is excellent; mushrooms are whole buttons that'd make a fine appetizer by themselves. Too bad it's in a whole different state from my house.
Mesa VerdeMexican (burritos)Fiske & Main, Greenfield, MA2004-10-2114
Finally, a decent burrito in New England. Correctly prepared tortillas, good fillings, reasonable prices... sure, it's 35 miles away, but at least I don't have to go down to New York just for an acceptable burrito. (Though I actually usually get the avocado bowl and a basket of chips.)
India PalaceIndianMain & Strong, Northampton, MA2004-10-2112
Pakoras are usually pretty lousy — just batter and fry some odds and ends of onion and throw it onto the steam table — so we knew this place would be better than average when the pakoras turned out to be a special course, with condiments and everything. And so it is.
Bueno y SanoMexican (burritos)chain: Amherst, Northampton2004-10-214
Rice and beans with a totally dead flavor to them in an almost spherical throw pillow shape. I don't get it. Where did these Massachusetts people get the idea that burritos are supposed to be round?
Amanouz CaféMoroccanMain btw Pleasant/Strong, Northampton, MA2003-07-0214
Amanouz does offer the usual Muslim-Mediterranean standbys — falafel pita sandwiches, hummus, etc. — and some pretty good breakfast fare, but that's not what you should get if you go. Instead, try something like the onion crepe topped with almond sauce. Or the vegetable cheese burek, a sort of thin vegetable pot pie with a phyllo crust — takes them a while to make, but it's excellent. Perhaps the loubia, a spicy tomato stew with beans and mushrooms. Or the bastilla, a sort of dinner/dessert combo with rice and vegetables under a phyllo crust topped with powdered sugar. This is easily one of the better eateries in this corner of the world, and certainly one of the most interesting.
Fitzwilly'sAmericanMain & Strong, Northampton, MA2002-09-276
This place has apparently been around for decades… I got the pesto pizza (which was very enh) and an orange-strawberry smoothie (which was topped with whipped cream, odd for a smoothie but essential for this one as it supplied most of the flavor).
La VeracruzanaMexican (taqueria)chain: Amherst, Northampton2002-09-2214
I wasn't about to relocate without at least the prospect of an acceptable burrito reasonably close to my new home, and this place was pointed out as a possible outlet. And… the burritos are pretty lousy. But everything else is great! Enchiladas, huevos rancheros, enfrijoladas (lightly fried corn tortillas wrapped around cheese and then smothered in what is essentially black bean soup), calabazitas (zucchini in a spiced tomato broth with corn tortillas), corn-tortilla quesadillas, tamales… pretty much anything corn-based is the way to go.
Flayvors of Cook FarmIce creamSouth Maple & East Hadley, Hadley, MA2002-09-0412
This is an ice cream shop on a dairy farm. You eat the ice cream while looking at the cows it came from. The ice cream is good. So are the cows. And they come in quite a variety of flavors (er, not the cows, we're back to the ice cream now) — it seems like at this point the farm is an adjunct to the shop rather than the other way around.
Brickhouse PizzaPizzaDanbury btw CT-67/Valley, New Milford, CT2002-08-1111
Went along on a group excursion here after doing a guest presenter gig at a summer camp in the boonies of northwestern Connecticut. Was braced for Papa John's-style near-inedibility but instead the pizza was thoroughly respectable — I'm sure that if I lived anywhere near New Milford I'd go here all the time.
Pasta e BastaItalianMain btw Pleasant/Boltwood, Amherst, MA2002-08-068
Pick your shape and sauce, order it up at the counter, and minutes later your number will be called and you've got a plate of pasta. Better than your run of the mill fast food, but not better than just buying some pasta and sauce and making it at home. Thus, I usually get the manicotti, which (a) is a big time-saver and (b) tastes better than most of the rest of their stuff.
Herrell'sIce creamOld South btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA2002-08-036
This new venture by the founder of Steve's is pretty much identical, the gimmick being that they'll take the scoops and mix your selected toppings into the ice cream. Unlike Mix in Seattle, though, the toppings are limited pretty much exclusively to mass-market candy. The guy behind Cones in Greenwich Village would cry. The service also leaves something to be desired, serving up the wrong flavors and suchlike, as do the milkshakes, which are very thin. And then there's the most basic point: the ice cream is not really all that great.
Frontier PizzaPizzaMA-116 & Clark Mountain, Sunderland, MA2002-08-013
Bad pizza of the bread and grease school.
Caffeine'sBistroMemorial & Exposition, West Springfield, MA2002-05-091
I'm being generous here — I strongly considered giving this place a black rating, but since I didn't get sick and the food wasn't actually inedible, I'll let it slide. But this was a flat-out bad experience. See, it'd won all sorts of awards for best vegetarian place in the Valley, but apparently all these awards were given by people who don't actually understand what the word "vegetarian" means. Like, yes, they have lots of salads on the menu, but what good does that do if they all have chicken in them? And yeah, most of the entrees come with vegetables, but every single one also has a meat component except for one — and then when I tried to order that one, a vegetable lasagna, the annoying hard-sell waitress chirped that they didn't actually have that. Whoopsie! (Had I known that, I would never have even sat down.) I ended up getting a terrible mini-pizza, peppers and bad cheese on a hard yet not crispy ultra-thin crust, like a pita pizza… bleah. Jennifer got a hummus appetizer and the hummus I tried tasted fairly nasty — it came in a cabbage "bowl" and any flavor it possessed had been leached from the cabbage. The annoying waitress said that they'd probably have the lasagna the next time we came — right, like I'm going near this place again.
India HouseIndianState btw Main/Bedford, Northampton, MA2002-04-208
A more interesting and varied menu than most Indian places, with coconut-stuffed naan and such; I even got a cup of coconut soup with pistachios as an appetizer. But the execution is nothing special. I got the navratan korma, which was pretty good but suffered from overly large chunks of potato and cauliflower, and a couple of pooris, which were pretty much devoid of taste. Oh, and the service was a bit odd, as we were studiously ignored for several minutes after coming in to ask for a table. Hardly a bad meal, but not a remarkable one either.
Pizza D'ActionPizzaLyman & Walnut, Holyoke, MA2002-04-125
Odd, this: the pizzas are hybrids between NY-style and deep dish, coming out looking like a NY-style except in a fairly thick disc, and then cut like a Sicilian... too bad shape is the only really noteworthy aspect here. The crust is tasteless, the toppings only marginally better.
Paul and Elizabeth'sCrunchyOld South btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA2002-03-087
This "natural foods" restaurant at the top of a spiral staircase near Herrell's is about what you'd expect: a lot of salads, a lot of Asian-inspired dishes. I got the pan-fried ravioli appetizer, which was pretty good (but then, it's hard to screw up ravioli) and the vegetable tempura, which wasn't bad but whose flavor was very mild to nonexistent. And while it just screams "look how lightly breaded I am! I must be healthful as all get-out!", in the end, tempura is fried food, and I eventually hit my limit as to how much I could take.
Sally's ApizzaPizzaWooster & Olive, New Haven, CT2002-03-0311
Not too different from my first CT pizza experience (see Modern Apizza, above): same shape, same limpness, same overreliance on pure carbon as a key flavor element. The non-blackened bits were nicely tangy, and all in all it wasn't a bad pie, but it seems pretty clear that the state of Connecticut and I will not be seeing eye to eye on what makes for a good pizza any time soon.
Amedeo'sItalianBridge & Canal, Holyoke, MA2002-02-146
Had some manicotti here that's about on a par with what you'd get at Stouffer's. Plus a salad consisting of iceberg lettuce on a small plate with some dressing that clearly came out of a bottle. Not terrible, but hardly recommended.
Modern ApizzaPizzaState btw Clark/Humphrey, New Haven, CT2002-02-088
This was my first taste of Connecticut pizza — or as they call it, "apizza" — and I can't say I was too impressed. They seem to make a big deal out of who has the hottest oven, with blackened crusts a point of pride; if only the taste of the pizza shared top billing with the temperature of the ovens. The pizza Jen and I got here was significantly cheesier than the NYC usual, but quite limp for all the blackening and not particularly noteworthy.


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