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The Critics Ate Spicy Clams, Burgers, and Steak Tips This Week

At Al Forno in Providence, Hopewell Bar & Kitchen in Allston, and Seapoint Bar and Grill in Southie

Spicy clam roast with Al Forno mashed potatoes at Al Forno in Providence
Spicy clam roast with Al Forno mashed potatoes at Al Forno in Providence
Bill Addison for Eater

An Enduring Classic

For The Boston Globe, Ted Weesner heads to Providence to review longtime classic Al Forno, known for its grilled pizza, baked pastas, and more. There’s a reason it has survived nearly four decades — well, several reasons. For one, Weesner finds the calamari pizza to be “an elegant sketch in balance and boldness,” featuring flavorful toppings upon “some of the best pizza crust anywhere.” Even better, though, is clams al forno, a dish that provides “a brief, mind-blowing blast of what this restaurant does best,” featuring “succulent shellfish” in a “fiery, supple, oceanic” broth, served in a “vintage chipped-enamel casserole [that] only enhances the dish’s poetry.” Some dishes don’t quite “scale the culinary heights” but are still “very good, straight-up, old-school trattoria fare.” All in all, the “old stalwart” successfully wins over a skeptical Weesner, who hadn’t dined there in years and figured it was past its prime.

A Neighborhood Bar With Bigger Aspirations

For the Globe’s “cheap eats” coverage, Catherine Smart reviews Hopewell Bar & Kitchen in Allston, a restaurant with a busy bar scene and a chef, Matt Lancaster, who “seems to have ambitions well beyond college-bar food.” The burger — fresh-ground beef, horseradish cheddar, bacon jam, Iggy’s black-pepper brioche bun— “stands out” in a burger-filled town, and the “generous” portion of country-fried chicken wings is a success, arriving “crunchy on the outside, juicy within, and slathered in a sweet maple-Sriracha glaze.” (The doughnut-batter waffle upon which they’re served, though, lacks “a golden crust.”) A gnocchi dish with “rich, mushroom-filled Bolognese” pleases, but some dishes fall a little flat; “it seems more attention is sometimes paid to aesthetics than to taste,” writes Smart. With “competitive” prices and a “delightful” staff, it’s a good addition to the neighborhood — and a bit of “fine-tuning” could turn it into more of a destination, especially thanks to that burger.

A Hidden Watering Hole

For the Dig, Marc Hurwitz visits the relatively hidden Seapoint Bar and Grill in South Boston. It’s “a dark and very old-feeling watering hole with pool tables, Keno, TVs, and a mural of local sports figures,” a place where you’ll find very few people who don’t live in the immediate area surrounding the bar. “It really is less of a dive bar and more of a neighborhood joint,” he writes, and it mostly features “basic pub grub and classic American fare.” The “real highlights” include the steak tips (“which some say are the best in Southie,” notes Hurwitz) and the thin-crust pizza. Go here “if you want to feel like you’re a million miles away from the trendy eateries and hotspots with long lines.”

Al Forno, Providence’s Most Influential Restaurant, Still Vital After All These Years [BG]
Comfort Me With Burgers at Hopewell Bar & Kitchen [BG]
Seapoint Bar and Grill, South Boston [Dig]

The Hopewell Bar & Kitchen

1277 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA 02134 617-208-8925 Visit Website

Al Forno

577 South Water St., Providence, RI 02903 (401) 273-9760 Visit Website

Seapoint Bar and Grill

367 E 8th St, Boston, MA 02127 (617) 268-1476

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