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Local Critic Tries Papa Gino’s for the First Time

Plus, a review of Little Dipper and a tour of Barbara Lynch’s empire

Papa Gino’s
Papa Gino’s pizza
Papa Gino’s/Official Site

A First for First

The Boston Globe’s Devra First took the opportunity this week to eat at Papa Gino’s for the first time after news came out that the long-running Massachusetts pizza chain abruptly closed numerous locations and was filing for bankruptcy. “I expect it to be unfamiliar, but when I walk in, it is utterly familiar,” she writes, opting for carry-out, taking home “an armload of food,” including an appetizer “filled with fried tidbits.” While cracking a beer with her meal, First writes, “It’s like I’m at a frat party-of-one.”

First tries a “vile” steak and cheese sandwich before tackling a spaghetti and meatball dish, about which she writes: “If you served this to me on an airplane, I would definitely eat it.” For the main event, pizza, she has cheese and Super Veggie options that taste “like generic pizza that has somehow managed to escape being inflected by any culture — Italian, Greek — beyond the American culture of food delivered in a car to be eaten in front of a TV.”

On the whole, she determines that Papa Gino’s is not that good, “but it’s also not that bad, and it is a lot of food for a little money, and for that reason I can respect it. We should still be able, some places in the world, to get a lot of food for a little money.”

Barbara Lynch’s Influence

First also offers a comprehensive look at Barbara Lynch’s many restaurants in celebration of the 20th anniversary of No. 9 Park, Lynch’s first mark on Boston. Lynch is someone First numbers “part of a cadre of chefs who put Boston dining on the map,” and she takes a tour of the noted restaurateur’s establishments, from No. 9 Park to cocktail bar Drink. It’s a mixed bag: At No. 9 Park, First is surprised to find substance missing from the food, overly salted dishes, and stale macarons, while at Menton she has a “delightful” crab bisque and a gnocchi that “practically purrs with richness.”

“The Butcher Shop has aged into itself so well,” First writes, and she has the tagliatelle bolognese and a “perfectly seared, juicy prime rib eye.” At B&G Oysters, there are fresh and fried options, which First dubs perhaps the “best fried oysters in town.”

In short, it’s Lynch’s more casual outposts that have perhaps fared the best over the years, but that won’t stop the crowds from filling the fancier standbys, like the “eternally busy” No. 9 Park, showing “how we can continue to have occasion restaurants in a landscape that doesn’t always support them.”

Food to Make Your Heart Soar

The Improper Bostonian’s MC Slim JB reviews Little Dipper in Jamaica Plain, and it’s full of “comfort-oriented good cheer,” he writes. The brunch menu at the space-themed diner features “big, spectacular plates,” including huevos rancheros, a vegetarian egg and cheese sandwich, and breakfast standbys like eggs Benedict and buttermilk pancakes. There are also hefty griddled burgers for brunch, along with bloody marys and punch. For dinner, Slim recommends Little Dipper’s Phoenix sandwich, with “a delectably juicy-and-crunchy patty of fried chicken thigh with lettuce and dill-chive ranch dressing on a potato roll with a neat little salad and more great fries.” He also suggests the Chewie, a sandwich made with “excellent tomato-glazed pork/beef meatloaf,” and the Boston cream doughnut for dessert.

A Food Critic Eats at Papa Gino’s for the First Time [BG]
Barbara Lynch’s Influence on Boston Dining [BG]
Cuddly Baby Bear [IB]

B & G Oysters

550 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116 (617) 423-0550 Visit Website

Drink

348 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 695-1806 Visit Website

No. 9 Park

9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108 617 742 9991 Visit Website

Little Dipper

669A Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 524-9217 Visit Website

Menton

354 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 737-0099 Visit Website

The Butcher Shop (Boston)

552 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118 (617) 423-4800 Visit Website

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