Extraordinary single food items in the GBA

Here and there we all – or, at least, I – encounter a single food item (or a dish in a restaurant) that seems extraordinary. I’ll start the ball rolling with this:

Dehydrated olives from “Olivico” sourced from Formaggio Kitchen (listed as “Not your regular olives”). They’re pungent, and can be carried with you to add flavor to any meh dish you encounter. You can also simply snack on them. They’re outstanding.


I’ll keep my ball rolling with the superb scallop pate (brand “La Curiosa”) that Momma’s Grocery carries. I was a little apprehensive when I first tried it – I best like my scallops raw – but this stuff has a distinct scallop undertaste to the onion, tomato, olive oil and other good stuff.


Oh I love this idea! I’m eager to try both of the items that you noted (particularly the idea of purse-olives!) and will contribute:

  • the tiramisu cake from Gufo - I’m usually not a fan of non-cake desserts turned into cakes but this is excellent. We have ordered extra rounds of drinks to justify ordering a second helping of this cake.

  • perhaps a bit dated now, but the malted cold brew coffee from Render in the South End. I’m assuming they still make it, but since we are no longer in walking distance we’ve begun making our own. Worth the trek if you’re nearby.


To keep kicking the can with an obvious choice: From the NYT best-25-of-Boston: “Certain restaurants become forever linked with hallmark dishes, like the baked alaska at Oleana”.

Yeah, Oleana Baked Alaska.

Also, yeah, Neptune lobster roll.

Anything else, especially beyond the obvious?


Burnt sugar at Christina’s in Cambridge
Shrimp-stuffed peppers at China Pearl
Gas station lobster roll on the south shore


Ah, let me add the seasonal rose ice cream at Christina’s (variable and unpredictable, but usually late May to early June – superb).

Also, the exceptional fall apple-walnut muffin at Hi-Rise. (We have the apple snacking cake from Flour from time to time, but the Hi-Rise muffin rises – if I may say so – many times above it.)


Some overlap here

Though I’ll say that the Boston cream pie at Parker House is not one I want to eat anymore.

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I want to contribute @fooddabbler but I feel pressure at the “extraordinary” tag. :grimacing:

A start: any of the vegetarian hand-pulled noodles with spicy oil at Home Taste in Arlington.


I’ve only eaten at and from Home Taste in Watertown, but their hand-pulled noodles are certainly extraordinary.

Also the #4 at Gene’s Flatbread.


That Boston cream pie doesn’t look right…

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The lions mane “crab cake” at Prep NK tonight was quite tasty. I’ve been struggling with how to prep lions mane and this piqued my interest in trying to tackle it again.



By extraordinary, I interpret that to mean far above average/ordinary, thus remarkable or worthy of specific mention, so here are a few minor entries:

  1. Smoked bluefish pate at Sycamore: probably near my Platonic ideal for all the individual elements, consistently excellent, we order every time
  2. Cherry chip ice cream at Rancatore’s: reasonably priced, nice fat content, beautiful combination of cherry and dark chocolate so sweet/bitter balance
  3. Shrimp cocktail at the re-Eastern Standard: just about perfectly (and I mean it) poached and flavorful, even on own

(not a restaurant, but our family’s favorite chocolate of all time is the Laderach FrischSchoggi dark chocolate and blackberry, so if you’re in the Prudential Mall, consider stopping by and trying a sample)

(Yesterday’s (pre-COVID) buttermilk biscuits at Sweet Cheeks)


My personal favorites:

  • Neptune Oysters - hot buttery lobster roll
  • South Garden Restaurant (Quincy) - the “Wind Sand Chicken” (I don’t know the English name of this dish from their menu
  • Chacarero - the chicken chacarero with all the fixings
  • Ms. Cluck’s Deluxe Chicken - chicken karaage with waffle fries
  • Mei Sum Bakery - tofu banh mi (still my favorite of all locations)

Technically not GBA, but when I think of threads like this it reminds me of Fore Street in Portland, ME. Their roasted mussels dish is out of this world, and I would gladly sit there and just eat orders and orders of this for my meal there.


In this post I’m going to use “extraordinary” in the sense of “different from the ordinary” not so much “above the ordinary” (although I will not go “below the ordinary” either).

If you’re lucky, on a Friday afternoon at Foodland in Cambridge (2234 Mass Ave, across from Pemberton Farms) you can get very good, still-hot chicken samosas. They’re the style that has thin pastry wrapped a few times around filling, to yield a flat triangle (not quite full filo, but in that broad direction), as opposed to the short-crusty, tetrahedral, Punjabi samosas that are vastly more common in the GBA. Caveats (hence my hedging above on how I’m using “extraordinary”):

  1. They’re great only when hot (or warm, then correctly re-crisped in a toaster oven). Even then, select the browner, crisper specimens. Accept no pale tan.
  2. The filling used to be superb, redolent of green chilies and ginger, but it’s skewing more to sweet-oniony lately. Perhaps a Boston Board demonstration outside is called for: “Hungry Onions Demand Less Onion”.

Your post @fooddabbler brings me back to the couple who ran/runs the food stand at Alewife (doubt they’re still there… I ask B to look and he always forgets because he’s running to catch the train). When I used to go into an office, I stopped there without fail to grab a couple of veggie samosa for my breakfast. They weren’t extraordinary, but memorable to me. And perhaps, that is the very definition of “extraordinary.”

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That’s what the BCP at the Omni looked like when we made a special pilgrimage there for it a few years ago. We agreed, unanimously, that it was weird. I suppose they decided to make them all single servings (rather than slices of a bigger cake) but it just didn’t work for us. DH liked Zaftigs’ version better.

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I wouldn’t have been upset if it tasted good even though it looked wrong. But alas it did not.

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As much as I avoid buying goodies from chain grocery store bakeries, my local Stop & Shop (Orleans on the Cape) has a decent BCP. I don’t have much to compare it against, though. I dislike unexpected individually made desserts like that. We ordered cheesecake to share after dinner at a local restaurant recently and it was a small round cupcake-shaped thing, not what we expected.

Hey, I’ve been in your Stop and Shop! :laughing: can’t comment on their BCP but I’ll let my aficionados know next time we’re out your way. I’m pretty sure they also tried the version at Eat Cake For Breakfast, but tbh everything from there was delicious.

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I’ve never been to Eat Cake for Breakfast but it has a loyal following. I’m not much for sweet things - my DH has the sweet tooth. On rare occasions I will stop into the Cottage Street Bakery in Orleans. I don’t know if they make BCP. Cakes, pies, cupcakes, pastries, donuts - just not drawn to them in general. I prefer savory to sweet. And I am so not a baker. I definitely have a fat tooth!!

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