Western New England eateries

Key: (now also with numerical scores for the color-blind and for fine-tuning)
best of the best: not just great, but the best example of its type I've ever had
a favorite, with dishes that reliably knock my socks off
solidly recommended: would be happy to go back
at least good enough that I don't regret having gone there
not a place I'd return to without grumbling
eeeagh! abysmal
no verdict

Last update: 03 Jul 2005 (added: Black Sheep, Amherst Chinese, Lone Wolf; updated: Bela)

Name Cuisine Location Last update Score
Amanouz Café Moroccan Main btw Pleasant/Strong, Northampton, MA 02 Jul '03 5
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 really 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.
Amedeo's Italian Bridge & Canal, Holyoke, MA 14 Feb '02 2
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.
Amherst Chinese Food Chinese Main btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA 01 Jul '05 4
Decent soup and scallion pancakes, uninspired lo mein.
Antonio's Pizza Pizza N. Pleasant and Main, Amherst, MA 21 Oct '04 7
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 this is a bit like going into a wrap shop and saying that the burritos aren't very good. A quality version of a classic is not the selling point here. The selling point is that you can get a slice with, say, black beans, guacamole, cheddar, tomatoes and creme fraiche. And ordering a whole pie gets you around the heating woes. So the secret is to avoid thinking of Antonio's as a pizzeria. If I want a slice with mozzarella, sauce and peppers, I'll go somewhere else. But if I want a large piece of flatbread heaped with avocadoes, sour cream, pico de gallo, cheddar, provolone and tortilla chips, this is the spot.
¡Autentica! Taqueria Sumner btw Daviston/Perkins, Springfield, MA 20 Mar '03 2
I have to learn not to get my hopes up. Read that this place was highly regarded locally and that it offered New Mexican food... feh. I got a black bean burrito with green chiles and it was indistinguishable from any other terrible New England burrito. What a culinary wasteland this place is.
Bakery Normand Bakery Main & Old South, Northampton, MA 20 Jul '02 3
Haven't tried the bread yet, and this is mainly a bread bakery. I did, however, try an oatmeal cookie. It was okay but it's a good thing they're not trying make their livings as a cookie bakery.
Bart's Ice cream N. Pleasant & Kellogg, Amherst, MA 13 Jun '02 4
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, excellent flavor combination, and a nice consistency.
Bela Crunchy vegetarian Masonic & Center, Northampton, MA 02 Jul '05 1
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."
Berkshire Mountain Bakery Bakery MA-183, Housatonic, MA 24 Oct '01 4
Good bread: moist, chewy and sour (this is an all-sourdough bakery.) Still jonesing for a loaf of Great Harvest honey wheat, though... should've made yet another detour, methinks.
Bertucci's Pizza E. Pleasant & Triangle, Amherst, MA 06 Mar '02 3
I'd been to this northeastern chain years ago: had a pizza at Harvard Square that I thought was really terrific, so the next day I got another at the Copley outlet and it was horrible. I passed one in Amherst and figured it was time for the rubber match. I got a margherita pizza and it was neither terrible nor especially good: the crust was pretty perfunctory, the toppings were uninspired but at least headed in the right direction (nice chunky plum tomatoes in the sauce, for instance) and the whole thing was just a wee bit greasy.
Bev's Homemade Ice Cream Ice cream Housatonic btw Main/Church, Lenox, MA 24 Oct '01 3
Very mildly flavored ice cream served in cones that taste like corn flakes. Nice body to the ice cream, though.
the Black Sheep Sandwiches and more Main btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA 22 Jul '05 4
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.
Brew Haha Cafe Marshall btw Center/Main, North Adams, MA 14 May '05 5
This is a small, crowded coffee house and breakfast/lunch place where I got a very good bagel sandwich with eggs, tomatoes and gouda.
Brickhouse Pizza Pizza Danbury btw CT-67/Valley, New Milford, CT 11 Aug '02 4
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.
Bueno y Sano Burritos Boltwood Walk, Amherst, MA 21 Oct '04 2
Spherical, bad-tasting burritos like those at ¡Cha Cha Cha! (see below). I just don't get it... where on earth did these Massachusetts people get the idea that burritos are supposed to be round?
Cafe Casablanca Crêpes Main & Strong, Northampton, MA 21 Oct '04 4
I was overjoyed to find a crêperie in Northampton, but unfortunately my first visit wasn't very good. Rubbery crêpe, minimal fillings (I got the one with chocolate and almond paste. It was mostly whipped cream.) But the breakfast crêpe I got a week later was a distinct improvement, stuffed with eggs, salsa and avocado and drizzled with an interesting smoky sauce. It was good enough that I went back a few days later for some hazelnut cake — and it was awful. It tasted practically embalmed. Feh. So I'd pretty much sworn off this place till I suddenly found myself hankering for a swiss cheese crêpe and didn't feel like driving to the East Village. So I gave it a shot and it was pretty good. Lesson: for savory crêpes, this place isn't bad. For anything else it's probably one to avoid.
Café Lebanon Lebanese State & Willow, Springfield, MA 30 Sep '02 4
Almost gave this place a purple rating just for having been non-terrible at a time when I was starving to death — I saw it go by after a hectic day of running around tutoring and, weak with hunger, decided I couldn't wait any longer to eat and turned the car around. I got a vegetarian platter and it was respectable. Some dishes were a bit cold, but respectable hummus was not what I was expecting in the middle of Springfield, so that plus sheer ravenousness made for a very decent dinner.
Caffeine's Bistro Memorial & Exposition 09 May '02 1
I'm being really 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.
¡Cha Cha Cha! Taqueria Main btw Pleasant/Old South, Northampton, MA 13 Jul '05 1
This used to be a place serving bad New York-style burritos here: rice and beans with a totally dead flavor to them in an almost spherical throw pillow shape. Then it was taken over by an Indian restaurant and words like "tandoori" and "Bollywood" started showing up on the menu. So I gave it another try. It still sucks! Just in a different way. While Indian fast food is a change of pace (at least around here), that just made it all the more disappointing. I tried to give Cha Cha Cha one more chance but it turned out to be out of what I ordered. Wtf.
Chelsea Royal Diner Diner VT-9, West Brattleboro, VT 25 Oct '01 3
A totally unremarkable diner, meaning that I have neither anything to rave about nor any horror stories to relate. Oh, except to be warned that half their "served all day" breakfast menu disappears at 11:30.
Donatello's Italian bakery College & South East, Amherst, MA 24 Feb '04 4
The usual: trays of pretty good cookies, no labels.
the Dove's Nest Diner MA-116 & Clark Mountain, Sunderland, MA 04 Apr '05 1
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.
Egg & I Diner Main & Bardwell, South Hadley, MA 20 Mar '02 2
No Rockwell's, this — the menu is very basic (pancakes and eggs at breakfast, burgers at lunch) and even the reasonable prices ($1.85 for a grilled cheese) are offset by a dubious service charge.
FitzWilly's American Main & Strong, Northampton, MA 27 Sep '02 3
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).
Flayvors of Cook Farm Ice cream South Maple & East Hadley, Hadley, MA 04 Sep '02 4
Let us take a moment to wince at the spelling here. [...] Okay, on to the report. 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.
Frankie's Firehouse Restaurant Pizza/Italian South & Beech, Enfield, CT 08 May '02 3
Puffy crust, mass-market cheese, but still pretty good. Peppers were flavorful and the translucent sauce was excellent. But if I'm gonna go to Connecticut I'll probably just go all the way to Luna, more than likely.
Fresh Pasta Co. Bistro Italian Main & Masonic, Northampton, MA 13 Apr '02 2
The sweet potato ravioli seemed like it'd be great, especially with the almond/tomato "romesco" sauce I got with it... if only it had been cooked. Unfortunately, the middles were still cold and the pasta appeared to have been dunked in boiling water but not actually boiled therein. The thin-crust artisan pizza is also disappointing — it looks great, but all those herbs add up to nothing, the tomatoes are basically water balloons, and it's pretty greasy. And the pesto is devoid of flavor.
From Ketchup to Caviar Upscale Main & Academy, Lee, MA 12 Apr '04 4
Pretty good upscale spot in a small town in the Berkshires. As usual with these places, what justifies the expense — once — is not so much that the food is phenomenally great as that it's interesting; I had vegetable-stuffed phyllo and then a sort of nougat semifreddo, which do not appear on most menus. Looks like it's a community fixture, as the owners and the clientele seemed to know a fair bit about each other's business.
Frontier Pizza Pizza MA-116 & Clark Mountain, Sunderland, MA 01 Aug '02 2
Bad pizza of the bread and grease school.
Great Harvest Bread Main btw Birch/Purnell, Manchester, CT 14 Aug '02 5
I discovered Great Harvest when I was living in Sammamish, Washington, and quickly became a devotee of their honey wheat loaf. They also have among the best scones I have ever had.
Harry's Pizza Pizza Farmington & Walden, West Hartford, CT 09 Mar '02 4
This place's fare definitely gets the nod over the New Haven pizza I've had, in that it doesn't taste of charcoal. In fact, it's fairly respectable, with a nice chunky plum tomato sauce, but it'll take more visits to convince me it's anything all that special.
Haymarket Cafe Crunchy Main btw Crackerbarrel/King, Northampton, MA 30 Mar '02 3
The menu's full of brown rice and tofu, but I got the crostini, crunchy bread with some enh pesto and unflavorful tomato and fresh mozz. Then I went upstairs and got an "oatcake" (basically an oaty scone) with black and white chocolate chips, which wasn't bad.
Henion Bakery Bakery N. Pleasant btw Cowles/Hallock, Amherst, MA 13 Aug '02 4
I'd almost forgotten about the practice of stopping off for breakfast pastries on the way to an early appointment. Thanks to Henion's, it's back to being a regular thing when I have morning classes in Amherst. Good croissants and muffins and things.
Henry's Pizza Main & Stoughton, East Windsor, CT 23 Jun '02 2
This place's fare is like that at Pizza D'Action — the crust is basically fried, and that in and of itself kills a pizza.
Herrell's Ice cream Old South btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA 03 August '02 3
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.
India House Indian State btw Main/Bedford, Northampton, MA 20 Apr '02 4
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.
India Palace / Paradise of India Indian Main & Strong, Northampton, MA / Main btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA 21 Oct '04 4
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, though the entrees could use a bit more flavor.
Joga Cafe Mostly sandwiches Eagle btw Main/Center, North Adams, MA 24 Oct '01 3
Not too many appealing options jumped out at me, so I ended up getting a mesclun salad — which was pretty good, as was the grilled bread that came with it. Maybe with a few more items on the menu...
Judie's Eclectic N. Pleasant btw Main/Kellogg, Amherst, MA 21 Oct '04 5
I come here fairly regularly, once every month or two I guess. My first time here I got an enormous salad that was full of wacky stuff: grilled zucchini slabs, hardboiled egg slices, potato fritters, you name it. It was pretty good. More recently I've tended to get the hummus and black bean dip platter, which comes with chips and oven-warmed pita wedges, and is two meals' worth of food for under five bucks if you come on a weekday between three and six. I've had some great soups here, too, ranging from a cold plum/yogurt concoction to a Mediterranean vegetable soup made interesting by the addition of mascarpone. The house specialty is the "popover," an enormous hollow bread item that's still moist on the inside and comes with a strongly flavored apple compote dealie. Dessert are often good, too, but I usually don't have room.
Kashmir Restaurant Indian Wethersfield & Adelaide, Hartford, CT 21 Jun '03 4
The Hartford Advocate gave this its highest rating and tossed around words like "fabulous," which in retrospect suggests that the quality of Indian fare in Hartford must be abysmal. Because while this isn't bad, it's certainly not remarkable. Indeed, its menu was on the scanty side, at least for vegetarian items — I go to Indian restaurants hoping for something new and intriguing but expecting to get navratan korma or dal makhani, but this place had none of the three. Our aloo paratha tasted good but was greasy.
La Cazuela Mexican Main & Masonic, Northampton, MA 03 May '02 4
La Cazuela tries to fill in the "gourmet Mexican" niche here in Pioneer Valley, but while it gets high marks for gourmet-ness, the marks for actually being good are kinda enh. I started with a sweet potato and chile soup that was okay but had the consistency of baby food; my stuffed chiles had a nice walnut sauce on them but were otherwise remarkable only for the chiles being too hot and not tasting good enough to be worth the pain. And Jennifer said her burrito was bland, so I guess it's La Veracruzana for the rest of our time here.
La Fiorentina Italian bakery Armory & Pleasant, Northampton, MA 23 Sep '02 4
Like Veniero's in New York, La Fiorentina doesn't label. Sigh. Anyway, some of the things I've tried have included a thingie that looked like a croissant full of custard, which wasn't very good; a cannoli, which was quite good; and a little cakelike chocolate cookie thingie with hazelnuts.
La Veracruzana Taqueria Main & Strong, Northampton, MA; S. Pleasant btw Amity/College, Amherst, MA 22 Sep '02 5
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.
Lido's Italian Worthington & Spring, Springfield, MA 27 Apr '02 2
This place has been around since 1948 and presumably has not changed at all. This is basically Ian Holm's bad Italian restaurant from Big Night, the one that Tony Shalhoub was trying to separate himself from. Now most decent restaurants are like Tony Shalhoub's and places like Lido's are embarrassing anachronisms. We're talking store-brand spaghetti in a jar of Ragu (unless I'm selling them short and they sprang for the Prego.) I mean, come on, the Pepperidge Farm crackers were still in the wrapper. Sad.
Lone Wolf Breakfast/lunch Main btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA 21 Jul '05 6
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.
Luna Pizza Pizza Pleasant btw Hampton/Pearl, Northampton, MA; Farmington btw Walden/La Salle, West Hartford, CT 21 Oct '04 7
Fourth time's the charm where Connecticut pizza is concerned, looks like. This place four numbers away from Harry's is the best pizza place I've found since leaving New York. 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. I used to conclude this entry by saying, "Too bad it's in a whole different state from my house," but as of 19 Oct '04, Luna is in Northampton. Yeee-hah! Now we have excellent pizza on both sides of the river. Things in the Pioneer Valley are looking up.
Mesa Verde Burritos Fiske & Main, Greenfield, MA 21 Oct '04 5
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 Kitchen/Market in New York just for an acceptable burrito. (Though I actually usually get the avocado bowl and a basket of chips.)
Miss Florence Diner Diner Main btw Maple/Keyes 27 Apr '02 3
This has won all sorts of awards as best diner in the area, and I felt like a late breakfast, so I tried it. I dunno. I keep thinking a "best diner" is going to be like Cafe Flora in Seattle or something, but this is just a place to get eggs and toast. I guess the fact that the toast isn't burnt and the eggs don't have shells in them makes it a great diner.
Modern Apizza Pizza State btw Clark/Humphrey, New Haven, CT 08 Feb '02 4
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.
Modern Pastry Italian dessert Franklin & Wayland, Hartford, CT 03 Jul '03 4
Tasty cannolis, but as usual for such places, no labels.
Monte Alban Mexican Farmington & Evergreen, Hartford, CT 06 Nov '04 3
I got some enchiladas with mole sauce that were kind of a struggle to get through. A little too... thickly flavored, I guess I would put it, for my tastes.
Mr. Smoothie Smoothies Holyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA 09 Sep '02 5
Yeah, yeah, so it's called (urk) "Mr. Smoothie." And it's in a mall, and the 15-year-olds behind the counter will be too busy gossipping and/or talking on the phone to take your order until you've been standing there for five minutes, and the smoothies actually kinda suck. But the strawberry lemonade here is fricking great, so I find myself at the Holyoke Mall more than I expected. (The Lindt chocolate shop doesn't hurt.)
Nancy Jane's Diner-ish Main btw N. Pleasant/Boltwood, Amherst, MA 11 Jul '02 2
I saw a sign saying "almond crunch French toast" and thought that sounded good. Turns out to be regular French toast with almonds sprinkled on top. Feh.
NECI Commons Deli-ish Church btw Cherry/Pearl, Burlington, VT 15 Aug '03 4
The savory food is just tortellini salad and suchlike. What makes this place interesting is the range of desserts, like crème brulée and caramel crunch cake, made by aspiring pastry chefs (NECI, you see, is the New England Culinary Institute).
New India Indian Kellogg & N. Pleasant, Amherst, MA 06 Jun '02 2
It's always a bad sign when the restaurant is completely empty during prime dinner hours, and in this case it was an accurate one as well. Vegetable korma was a pack of frozen veggies (right down to the little carrot cubes... blecch) in an orange sauce; breads were neither fluffy nor flaky; dal makhni had a harsh edge, and the green chutney that came with the samosas had such a terrible flavor I felt like my tongue had been stung.
Mimmo's Pizza Pleasant btw Armory/Hampton, Northampton, MA 16 Jul '05 4
Biiiiig slices, and quite unlike the ones at Antonio's and Pinocchio's: crackerlike crust, a thin layer of well-done cheese. Sometimes hostile service from scary people, though.
Pasta e Basta Italian Main btw N. Pleasant/Boltwood, Amherst, MA 06 Aug '02 3
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.
Paul and Elizabeth's Crunchy Old South btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA 08 Mar '02 3
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.
Pinocchio's Pizza Main btw Pleasant/Old South, Northampton, MA 23 Sep '02 3
This slice shop is so similar to Antonio's in Amherst that I can't imagine they aren't owned by the same outfit. This sort of twinning seems to be more the rule here than the exception.
Pizza D'Action Pizza Lyman & Walnut, Holyoke, MA 12 Apr '02 2
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.
Pizza Factory Pizza Main & Maple, Florence, MA 05 Jul '02 3
All the ingredients are fresh, you get a second pizza for free with every pizza you order, and if you don't want the second pizza, the store will donate it to the hungry (and apparently they feed 15 to 20 destitute people every day.) So full points for social conscience. Only a few points for the actual pizza, though. Crust is kind of tasteless, sauce is thoroughly unremarkable, toppings are not handled well (the peppers I got were basically raw.)
Pizzeria Paradiso Pizza Crafts btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA 10 May '02 3
Thin, limp, almost flavorless crust, but a nice cheese blend, and the zucchini topping was good even if the peppers were very much subpar (looks like they chopped them up and threw them on just before the pizza went in the box.) Perhaps a better bet for non-pizza items.
Pizzeria Uno Pizza Holyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA 18 Mar '02 2
This is a big chain that serves a big-chain version of Chicago pizza, and does about as good a job of it as places like Little Papa Domino's Hut do with the New York variety. The deep-dish crust with chunky tomatoes on top of the cheese brings back a lot of good memories, but it's memories of better pizzas. The plain deep-dish wasn't entirely bad, but when I went back to try a pie with some toppings — the special that day was broccoli and spinach — it was pretty atrocious.
Red Rose Pizza Main & Howard, Springfield, MA 08 June '02 3
It was voted "Best in Springfield," so I had to try Red Rose; this turns out to say not much for Springfield's pizza scene. The regular pizza here comes with pepperoni and peppers standard — you can have them removed, but still have to pay for them — so I got one of the specials, a margherita. It was odd, topped with what seemed like an entire shakerful of oregano and little garlic bits... mulch pizza. But I figured I'd give them another chance and try a regular pizza (without the pepperoni, natch.) And the puffy, bready crust told me all I needed to know. I shall set my sights elsewhere.
Richardson's Candy Candy US-5 & Pleasant, Deerfield, MA 07 Jul '03 5
Excellent chocolate at non-ridiculous prices. The chocolate-covered macadamias are my current favorite — the nuts are roasted and buttery.
Rinaldi's Pizza Longmeadow & Edgewood, Longmeadow, MA 31 Jul '02 3
Stopped here out of desperation — first two choices were closed, class in 45 minutes, hadn't eaten all day — and to my surprise, the pizza wasn't horrible. It's no Di Fara, to be sure, but as pan pizza goes it's better than most.
Sally's Apizza Pizza Wooster & Olive, New Haven, CT 03 Mar '02 4
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.
Salvatore's Italian Boston & Lucerne, Springfield, MA 27 Mar '03 3
This place won the local indie's "Best Italian in Springfield" poll, which says more about the tastes of the Springfield citizenry than about the restaurant: they're more interested in the availability of "early bird specials" than in trying something more interesting than the generic red sauce entree.
Schakolad Candy Main & Strong, Northampton, MA 02 Jul '02 3
Reasonably good chocolate but too pricey to warrant a return trip.
Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan Afghan Franklin btw Bliss/Redding, Hartford, CT 03 Jul '03 5
The food here is very good, or at least, the vegetarian ashak I usually get is better than comparable dishes at the Afghan places I've been to in Seattle and New York (and those were pretty good.) These are dumplings filled with spinach and scallions, topped with herbed yogurt and split yellow peas... really good stuff. Service can be slow.
Sibie's Pizza West & Pomeroy, Amherst, MA 18 Jul '02 2
This pizza was served at a meeting. It was pretty bad. Bready crust, industrial sauce and cheese... one of the standard bad pizzas (another being the fried-crust variety).
Silk Road Café Upscale Asian fusion Main & Strong, Northampton, MA 03 Mar '05 4
So, years after it died out elsewhere, the Asian fusion trend made it to the Pioneer Valley. This is about as high-end as western Massachusetts gets, the sort of place where the waiters serve up amuse-bouches from behind futuristic glass partitions. It's pretty expensive, especially for the area, at around $30 for dinner... in my case that meant a bowl of pea soup with crispy vegetable wontons, another bowl full of cubed winter vegetables and chive gnocchi, and a dessert of flavorless rice clusters with chocolate sauce and pistachio ice cream. Incidentally, it was at this meal that I first ate brussels sprouts. I thought they were pretty good.
Sitar Indian Main & Lyman, Springfield, MA 11 May '02 3
Uninspired Indian: oily samosas, bland coconut soup, bitter round naan. But Indian food is good enough that even uninspired renditions with the aforementioned defects still make for a passable dinner.
Spoleto Express Italian King & unlabeled street, Northampton, MA 19 Dec '02 3
This is the eat-at-a-countertop version of Spoleto, one of Northampton's most popular restaurants — and one with virtually no veggie options, odd for an Italian place. The Express version was no different on this count; I ended up getting a roasted vegetable panini because it was pretty much my only choice. It was reasonably good, but I bet I could make a better one.
The Spot Pizza Wooster & Depalma, New Haven, CT 05 Jan '03 5
This is the takeout side of Frank Pepe Pizzeria, the best pizza in New Haven (which is not as good as Luna Pizza in Hartford, so there).
Sugarloaf Deli Deli MA-116 & US-5, Whately, MA 26 Mar '03 4
I was very very hungry so I got some pasta salad and a slab of coffee cake here. It was very cheap and tasted pretty good.
Sylvester's Breakfast Pleasant & Hampton, Northampton, MA 01 Aug '02 3
One of the many breakfast/lunch/no dinner places around here, Sylvester's is no Rockwell but beats Egg & I. The toast is made with homemade bread, a nice touch; the home fries aren't great in and of themselves but come buried in, for instance, cheese, peppers, salsa and sour cream.
Tailgate Picnic Deli College & Hadley, South Hadley, MA 13 Jul '02 3
Got some cold pesto tortellini here which were pretty much what you want in cold pesto tortellini. Sandwiches are pretty blah.
Thirty 9 Main Upscale Main & Arch, Brattleboro, VT 01 Mar '04 3
I came all the way to Vermont to wander around aimlessly and see if there were any interesting-looking places to eat, and no place I found seemed even half as promising as this place. It's one of those bistros with weird, small, expensive concoctions, but that's actually kind of what I was looking for... seemed silly to go all the way to Vermont and get, like, pasta. Instead, I got a poblano stuffed with vegetable ratatouille, and for dessert, lemongrass crème brulée. Not anything I'd have again, but as a wacky change of pace, it was fine.
Elm & I-91 N on-ramp, Enfield, CT
13 Mar '02
Togo's is a really good sandwich chain in California. Outside of California, it pretty much sucks. At least for me it does, as every sandwich I ever order from the CA locations has been surgically excised from their non-CA menus. I ducked into this one to see if it might be an exception. Answer: nope.
Tokyo & Taipei Chinese/Japanese Main & Strong, Northampton, MA 05 Apr '05 3
I got some scallion pancakes here. They were good, but had only been fried on one side, which struck me as a bit weird.
Typical Sicilian Italian Belmont & The X, Springfield, MA 05 Feb '04 2
Expensive, especially for the area, and the vegetarian selection is tiny and limited to the sort of "pasta with red sauce" dishes I can make better versions of for way less than $17.
Union Station Brunch Pleasant & Pearl, Northampton, MA 26 May '02 3
The good news about the brunch spread here is that there's more to it than just scrambled eggs and pancakes — it's got blintzes, manicotti, an omelette station, all sorts of stuff. The bad news is that they cut a lot of corners: bad supermarket croissants, prefab French toast, unskilled omelette guys, etc. So do you want a hundred okay things or two really good things for brunch? If the former, come in and plunk down your sixteen bucks; if the latter, stay home.
Via Via Café Pizza etc. N. Pleasant and Main, Amherst, MA 08 Feb '04 2
I wonder how with a brick oven they manage to come up with floppy pizza that feels like it came out of a microwave.

We are CLOSED now!:

Amber Waves Asian Main btw Boltwood/Churchill, Amherst, MA 04 Sep '02 3
Had the vegan phad thai recommended to me, and since I'm always on the lookout for vegan Thai food, I gave it a try. It was okay, but I've had a lot better.
Amherst Crepes Crepes N. Pleasant btw Cowles/Hallock, Amherst, MA 01 Mar '05 3
I went here twice and once got a crepe that was hard and crunchy and once got a crepe that was underdone and gummy. I said I'd be willing to give it a third try but it disappeared quickly.
Bananarama Smoothies N. Pleasant & Main, Amherst, MA 22 Sep '02 3
Banana-heavy smoothies like these tend not to be my favorites — I tend to prefer the icy/juicy variety — but some are tasty and serve as more of a meal than a beverage. (Others are just bad.)
Carmine's Pizza Pizza College & Hadley, South Hadley, MA 20 Jun '03 3
Bready, bendy, extremely greasy slices. But, uh, actually not all that bad, to be honest.
Delano's Pizza N. Pleasant btw Main/Kellogg, Northampton, MA 03 Aug '02 4
Not completely closed, but no longer serving pizza.
Domenic's Italian Strong & Main, Northampton, MA 26 Nov '02 2
Domenic's bills itself as being straight out of Little Italy, and to the extent that Little Italy doesn't actually have any good restaurants in it, the slogan is pretty accurate. On my first trip I ordered a fresh mozz/tomato/basil panini like I always used to get at Bread in NYC, but when it arrived, it had not been pressed, it was on a stale roll, and the ingredients were awful (white tomatoes, etc.) It also had hair in it. So I figured I'd never be back, but then the office held a dinner there so back I went. This time I got a pasta dish, which wasn't horrible but which was nowhere near as good as what I make at home.
Fire & Water Cafe Crunchy Old South btw Main/Hampton, Northampton, MA 06 May '02 4
This was typical crunchy fare: seriously dubious-looking nachos, avocado and cucumber sandwiches, vegetarian chili. I tried the last of these. It was actually quite good.
Il Pirata Italian S. Pleasant & Amity, Amherst, MA 23 Feb '02 4
You know how sometimes Italian restaurants will top a dish with shredded mozzarella of dubious quality that just dissolves into a bunch of tiny, unstretchy puddles instead of coalescing into a mighty pool of stretchy goodness? That happened with the pesto lasagna I got here, so I wasn't expecting much. But underneath the unfortunate mozzarella was a good balance of flavors and textures.
Vermont Country Deli Deli Main btw Pleasant/Strong, Northampton, MA 25 Feb '03 3
I had some tortellini here with tomatoes and mozzarella, all of which were overpowered by the onions that came in the mix. I also got some cheesecake with white chocolate, which was okay.