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BON SAVOR 605 Centre St., Jamaica Plain. 617-971-0000. Hail, Boston, city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavors. In J.P., for instance, there’s Bon Savor. The menu splits its time between France and South America, and new chef Marco Suarez (Eastern Standard) turns in relaxed, happy dishes such as steak frites with chimichurri and moqueca de peixe, the Brazilian seafood stew. Bon Savor is not the kind of restaurant you go out of your way for - it’s the kind you eat at, regularly and gladly, in your own neck of the woods.
CORIANDER BISTRO 5 Post Office Square, Sharon. 781-784-2300. Coriander’s menu ranges far and wide: through India, from north to south to west, to the native Nepal of the owners, from street snacks to Anglo-inflected specialties, homey dal to complex curries. There are nearly 100 main dishes to sample, and almost 20 kinds of bread alone. The variety is not the only reason you could eat here often. Chef Dammar Thapa went to culinary school in India, and his resume includes stints at a five-star hotel in Kathmandu and on cruise ships. His food is deftly spiced and prepared with an unusually fine touch.
THE STORK CLUB 604 Columbus Ave., Boston. 617-391-0256. It was a sad day when Bob’s Southern Bistro closed: the end of a long run, the end of live jazz and soul food, the end of a place where people from all walks of life felt welcome. Now the Stork Club, opened in August in the same space, is bringing life back to Bob’s corner. It’s got live jazz and soul food, though the former’s more successful than the latter. It’s also got basics like burgers and chocolate mousse, which it executes quite well. The main draw is the music, but you won’t be sorry if you stay to eat.
BIG PAPI’S GRILLE 30 Worcester Road (Route 9), Framingham. 508-620-9990. David Ortiz has had a rough year. There was the home run drought. There was the steroids scandal. And there is Big Papi’s Grille, in which Ortiz is a financial partner. It’s not so much that the place is terrible, although it’s not very good. It’s that Ortiz deserves to have his name on a restaurant with style and personality. Where is the Dominican flair, the Papi spirit? This is a midrange steakhouse like many other midrange steakhouses, just with better hot sauce.
SPIGA 18 Highland Circle, Needham. 781-449-5600. Spiga seems so promising: a cute interior, charming Italian waiters, and chef Marisa Iocco (Galleria Italiana, Bricco, etc.) at the stove. Often it delivers, particularly with the pasta dishes. At other times, seasoning, flavors, and textures can be off. Spiga is the kind of restaurant you want to love. Sometimes you can.
PAZZO 269 Newbury St., Boston. 617-267-2996. Newbury Street restaurants must negotiate a tricky balance between style and substance. Pazzo is led by an adept chef, Bill Bradley, but it feels as though it’s still trying to get its footing. The reasonably priced menu ranges from the usual (veal parm, pizza) to the less-usual (sublime chicken livers with polenta). “Pazzo’’ means “crazy’’ in Italian, and the name leads you to expect a less serious restaurant than the one you find. Pazzo isn’t perfect. It is, however, one of the best places to eat on Newbury Street.