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Welcome to the Globe Magazine’s third annual “Best of the New” issue, where you’ll find 94 people, places, and things that in the last 12 months have changed Greater Boston for the better.
Sweet Somethings
A new crop of bakers makes goodies worth all the carbs.
WINNERS:
All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge

(Dina Rudick / Globe Staff)

Finger Food
Seasoned and savvy restaurateur-chef Chris Schlesinger (he owns and runs the seafood destination East Coast Grill) has done it again. His bustling ALL STAR SANDWICH BAR in Inman Square serves classic Reubens (corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on rye), Cubanos (ham, roasted pork, cheese, pickle), and Beef on Weck (a specialty of Buffalo that's served on a salty roll) all day. Then, at night, the elegant evening sandwiches come out, such as grilled chili-rubbed mahi mahi with mango-ginger chutney and watercress on a bulkie roll, for one. Have it - and anything else - with the hand-cut fries. All Star Sandwich Bar, 1245 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-868-3065, allstarsandwichbar.com

That's Hot
In Kendall Square, a neighborhood with plenty of gourmet pizza and creative American, the knockout spicing at ANISE is a welcome change. But it's not just heat for heat's sake; Anise makes the most of Sichuan food's complex flavors. Many of the dishes are truly tongue-scorching, but in a delicious, addictive way - menu standouts pork bellies (think: beyond bacon) and toothsome, slow-burning won tons are worth ordering again and again. Anise, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-577-8668

King of the Hill
Uncomplicated, comforting dishes like soups, pastas, and grilled steaks served in an understated, minimalist setting make BIN 26 ENOTECA a welcome addition to Beacon Hill. But the real focus is the wine - there are dozens served by the glass, including some of the priciest, and a total of about 300 on the menu. This year, sister-brother owners Azita Bina-Seibel and Babak Bina, who also own the Persian restaurant Lala Rokh around the corner, will add house wines, too. The more the merrier. Bin 26 Enoteca, 26 Charles Street, Boston, 617-723-5939, bin26.com

The Big Grill
BRAZZILLE's sleek look is a tad out of place in Framingham's downtown, but that's by design: The former biker bar needed a makeover. The fare is authentic Brazilian, including succulent barbecued meats and pineapple sliced tableside and a cafeteria-style buffet. Hardwood floors and a bar add warmth, as does live music several nights a week. Brazzille, 85-91 Hollis Street, Framingham, 508-620-6170

Paying Attention?
Subtle flavors are all well and good, but sometimes you want food that demands notice. CHIARA chefs Steven LaCount and Joe Rocco dish up just that kind of thing in the Mediterranean-inspired suburban hot spot, where this time of year you might find diver scallops with tangerine-flavored beurre blanc and fresh clementines or honey-lacquered duck breast with baby turnips and beluga lentils. Desserts follow suit: Try the chestnut bread pudding with reduced - that's menu speak for intense - maple syrup. Chiara, 569 High Street, Westwood, 781-461-8118, chiarabistro.com

'Tis the Seasonal
At DANTE, located in Cambridge Royal Sonesta Hotel overlooking the Charles River, dishes on the seasonally changing menu range from inspired sustenance - fluffy gnocchi topped on one occasion with crispy porchetta and fava beans, or vanilla-parsnip ravioli with roasted lobster tail and spicy broth - to pure inspiration, like the "mini clambake" served in spring and summer that includes roasted lobster, local clams, and an andouille sausage corn dog. Chef Dante deMagistris, cooking for the first time in his own place, has even managed to lift oysters beyond special-occasion cliche: Served with pomegranate gelee and crisped rice, his version makes mignonette seem positively fusty. Dante, 40 Edwin H. Land Boulevard, Cambridge, 617-497-4200, restaurantdante.com

Worth the Wait
On nights when its Davis Square competitors sit empty, Diva Indian Bistro has hungry diners waiting in line. Last spring, the restaurant opened DIVA LOUNGE, and now there's a suitable spot to have a drink before your table is ready. The menu offers cocktails (many with silly names like Bubblebath), small plates (such as shrimp samosas and tandoori-baked mushrooms), and desserts, from pumpkin cheesecake to Indian rice pudding. But the highlight is the futuristic, playful space, with lighted plastic "pillows" on the walls and ceiling, cozy booths, and TVs that often show Bollywood films. Diva Lounge, 248 Elm Street, Somerville, 617-629-4963, divalounge.us

It's Back
In a corner of the Jamaica Plain institution EL ORIENTAL DE CUBA sits a plastic statue of San Lazaro. Like El Oriental, he rose from the dead and is enjoying a second life. The Cuban restaurant, firebombed in July 2005, reopened in October of last year. Things look a little different now - shiny new paint, new flower boxes - but the food is exactly the same. Thank goodness. Try the saucy, garlicky ropa vieja or the seafood soup with its deep marine taste. Then hang out enjoying the cafe con leche and one-of-a-kind neighborhood feel. El Oriental de Cuba, 416 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6464

The Scoop
A year when state legislators seriously debated the nutritional merits of the Fluffernutter sandwich - made with peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff - was good timing for the debut of Brigham's Ice Cream's FLUFFERNUTTER flavor. "I'm kind of a Fluff fanatic," reveals Brigham's president, Chuck Green. "My kid is 25, and he still eats it for breakfast and lunch." Still, adding chocolate peanut butter cups to peanut butter ice cream swirled with marshmallow? It's hard to believe nobody invented the concoction before this. At Brigham's restaurants and at supermarkets throughout New England

A Class Action
When Ballot Question 1 threatened to make wine available in grocery stores, the owners of Gordon's Fine Wine & Liquors in Waltham decided they needed to make their store stand out - fast. GORDON'S FINE WINE & CULINARY CENTER, next door to the shop, does just that with classes that range from one-time sessions in which participants learn how to taste or pair wines to comprehensive series that delve into the characteristics of wines produced in various regions around the world. The ballot question failed, but the center's a success. Gordon's Fine Wine & Culinary Center, 894 Main Street, Waltham. 781-893-1900, gordonswine.com

Talent Infusion
For some revelers, any cocktail with the suffix "-tini" counts as a party drink. But those who try Azure chef Robert Fathman's handcrafted liquors, INFUSION DIABOLIQUE and INFUSION ANGELIQUE, will find more to toast. He's been experimenting with high-end spirits and intriguing ingredients for years, to the great delight of his bar patrons. And now his best combos - bourbon infused with figs, cinnamon, and vanilla bean; tequila infused with mango, lime, and pineapple; rum infused with fresh lemon peel, orange, and ginger - are for sale. Meaning you can pour something way better than a "tini" next time you're playing bartender at home. At Brix Wine Shop, 1284 Washington Street, Boston, 617-542-2749, brixwineshop.com, and Grape Ideas, 131 Main Street, Wayland, 508-651-7031, grapeideasinc.com


(Photo by Pam Berry)

Outside In
INCONTRO RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
has everything an upscale urban restaurant should have: great food, superior service, and a stylish lounge. But it's 40 miles southwest of the city, located in a renovated 1883 mill. Chef Bill Bradley's regional Italian dishes include braciola from Campania and chicken cacciatore from Tuscany. In the lounge, try fried calamari with pine nuts and lemon aioli or tomato bruschetta or spiedini while sitting on a leather banquette, listening to someone play the baby grand and watching the game or the roaring fire - your choice. Incontro Restaurant & Lounge, 860 West Central Street, Franklin, 508-520-2770, incontrorestaurant.com

Meat Market
What kind of roast meat would you like for dinner? There's no need to choose. At LUCKY CAFE, a predominantly takeout Chinese restaurant in Dorchester, you can have a heaping portion of duck, pork, and chicken carved to order for just $6.75. By the way, that comes with bok choy, rice, and a fragrant sauce of oil, scallions, and ginger. (It's dish R1 on the menu.) No matter where you're headed, the scented steam escaping from the styrofoam box you lug out of there makes the ride home excruciatingly long. Lucky serves all the Chinese-restaurant standards, but the meat is the main attraction. Lucky Cafe, 1107 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, 617-822-9888

Divine (in) Providence
When was the last time you sat under huge paintings of flamenco dancers and ate Chinese food? That not the only thing that's special about upscale MUMU ASIAN CUISINE RESTAURANT in Providence. The xiao long bao (steamed soupy dumplings) are full of broth and delicate pork forcemeat. Tea-smoked duck announces itself with a sweet-dark perfume, then delivers on that promise with rich, crisp skin and juicy, succulent meat. The General Tso chicken is simply amazing, with its sweet-hot sauce. Vegetable lo mein is delicately seasoned and perfectly cooked. Make sure to call ahead for a reservation, since MuMu is going to be discovered. MuMu Asian Cuisine Restaurant, 220 Atwells Avenue, Providence, 401-369-7040

Big Fish
OISHII BOSTON in the South End is the local version of a very New York scene: The interior is heavy on black and concrete, the soundtrack plays synthesizer beats, and a mix of hipsters, prepsters, and well-heeled professionals hobnob over sake. Love it or hate it, all that hardly matters, since you go for the fish - proof positive that sushi can be fine art. From an amuse-bouche of tender, vinegary squid salad to the crimson tuna sashimi, the food is exquisite and is presented with the utmost care. The flavors - clean and pure, layered and complementary - are rivaled only by the freshness. This all comes at a price (expect to spend about $100 per person and not be stuffed), but it's worth it. Oishii Boston, 1166 Washington Street, Boston, 617-482-8868, oishiiboston.com

Southern Comforts
Though it's well off the South End's restaurant row, ORINOCO couldn't stay off diners' radar for long. The quiet, unassuming restaurant makes so-called Nuevo Latino food as well as traditional Venezuelan dishes: tender, shredded beef served with black beans and plantains, puffed arepas - they're like a hybrid of corn tortillas and English muffins - with pork or cheese or beans inside. The open kitchen makes the whole place smell divine, and the wine list is easily navigated because it's short and the choices are good. Too bad it's not open seven nights a week - Orinoco is a nice place to unwind. Orinoco, 477 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, 617-369-7075, orinocokitchen.com

Fantastic Island
The only thing that will warm you faster than the welcome at tiny ORTANIQUE - there are just four tables and a few stools looking out on Huron Village - is the mom-and-pop Jamaican restaurant's homemade soup. The gently spicy jerk chicken might do the trick, too; it's served with plantains and clove-scented rice and beans. Other customers may nip in for takeout chicken or goat curry, but once your steaming plate of simple food and cold glass of fresh ginger beer arrive, you won't notice anything else. Ortanique, 370 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, 617-234-0040, ortaniquecuisine.com

Worth Paying Retail
Even on a Filene's Basement budget, you can still eat like Narciso Rodriguez at RESTAURANT PAVA in Newton. The owners of Tess & Carlos, the upscale boutique with locations in Cambridge, Boston, and Newton, have opened a very stylish eatery in their Centre Street shop. And though the store sells $1,200 Alberta Feretti dresses and $500 Etro crew-necks, the restaurant's handmade pastas and entrees are mostly in the mid-$20 range. As for the food, the beet chitarra - a bright fuchsia tangle of noodles, roasted beets, short ribs, and candied ginger - is earthy, meaty, and sprightly all at once. Pasta pyramids, triangle-shaped pillows filled with fresh ricotta, are a clean, light counterpoint. Even the usually boring pre-meal bread soars; tiny, crusty rolls packed with raisins and fennel seeds are worth smuggling home in your bag, even if it's not designer. Pava, 1229 Centre Street, Newton, 617-965-0905, restaurantpava.com

A Better Bistro
Rare is the upscale out-of-town restaurant that doesn't attempt to imitate city eateries and instead forges its own unforgettable personality. Count QUINCE BISTRO among these, and start considering a trip to Needham for dinner. Chef Ian Grossman's menu is unabashedly flavorful and filled with local ingredients: Duxbury oysters (grilled and served with white truffle vinaigrette and chives), Maine mussels (they might come with chickpeas, cumin, and kale), and venison with fresh cranberry relish. The wine list, which includes 35 well-priced half bottles, invites diners to try something new on that side of the menu, too. Quince Bistro, 1019 Great Plain Avenue, Needham, 781-449-0022, quincebistro.com


(Essdras M Suarez / Globe Staff)

In a Jam
Devotees of the bread made and served in Boston's Sel de la Terre restaurant firmly believe it has no equal. Perhaps not, but it has met its match in the new, luscious, bursting-with-flavor SEL DE LA TERRE JAMS made by the brains behind the bread, pastry chef Michael Geldart. He uses fruits as they become ripe - strawberries in June, raspberries in September - and then sells them at the in-house boulangerie. Sweet. Sel de la Terre, 255 State Street, Boston, 617-720-1300, seldelaterre.com

Farmer Fresh
Chris Kurth used to be a fixture at the Copley Square and Dewey Square farmers' markets, selling and chatting with customers at The Farm School stand. Now leasing the 40 acres of prime farmland in Sudbury he'd been eyeing for years, he's started his own SIENA FARMS (named after his daughter, Siena). Kurth uses organic techniques to grow baby greens of all kinds, unusual beans like yellow haricots verts and fresh flageolets, and miniature vegetables such as fairy tale eggplants - a mere inch long. Kurth is still at the markets in summer, and the rest of the year, his produce goes to his wife's kitchen - she's Ana Sortun, chef at Oleana - and to other restaurants. Siena Farms, 113 Haynes Road, Sudbury, 978-479-0019, sienafarms.com


(Photo by Erik Jacobs)

Sister Packed
It's big. It's bold. It's sceney. SORELLINA was bound to disappoint when it opened - but, oh, it didn't. Sexy lighting, friendly service, and a buzzing crowd give the space near Copley Square something close to coziness. The modern Italian menu doesn't try too hard, either; it satisfies with beautifully executed simple dishes like pappardelle with fragrant braised rabbit and juicy herb-roasted chicken. "Sorellina" might be Italian for "little sister" (it's kin to chef-owner Jamie Mammano's ever-popular Mistral and Teatro), but the place is already outshining the whole family. Sorellina, 1 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 617-412-4600, sorellinaboston.com

Telling It Straight
When Amanda Lydon, formerly chef of UpStairs on the Square, and Gabriel Frasca, ex-Spire, took over STRAIGHT WHARF on Nantucket last summer, the 30-year-old restaurant was utterly transformed. Lydon and Frasca, a couple outside the kitchen as well, are passionate about using fresh, local ingredients. That means three-basil salad with chardonnay vinegar isn't available every night, and neither is wild Chatham halibut with garlic-chive spaetzle and morels, nor Bartlett's Farm tomato salad - but there's always something good. The pair preserved the airy, elegant feel of the dining room, merely giving it a buff and polish befitting the newly elevated cuisine. Straight Wharf, 6 Harbor Square, Nantucket, 508-228-4499, straightwharfrestaurant.com


(Photo by Kent Dayton)

SWEET SOMETHINGS
A NEW CROP OF BAKERS MAKES GOODIES WORTH ALL THE CARBS
Just off Walnut Street in Newtonville, BREAD & CHOCOLATE's glass-enclosed case is brimming with the kinds of treats you used to find only in Paris, like triomphe or chocolate mousse torte. Then there are the home-grown tastes. In the morning, go for the hybrid doughnut-muffins or rich pecan sticky buns (made only on weekends). At lunchtime, try the tuna or chicken pesto sandwiches, served on fresh ciabatta rolls. Just consider that eclair a chaser. Bread & Chocolate, 108 Madison Avenue, Newtonville, 617-243-0500, breadnchocolate.com

When you were little, there was always one kid's mother who made the most scrumptious cupcakes for after school. Ever wonder what happened to her? Try LULU'S BAKE SHOPPE in the North End. Buy a boxful: old-fashioned red velvet; golden, with butter cream icing; pineapple-studded carrot; chocolate infused with marshmallow or peanut butter cream. Owner Sandy Russo really does use her own mom's recipes, and, yes, you can get a glass of milk. Lulu's Bake Shoppe, 227 Hanover Street, Boston, 617-720-2200, lulusbakeshoppe.com

Two sisters opened PURE CHOCOLATE in Quincy in November, selling the creamiest, richest fudge on the South Shore - if not in the hemisphere. Decadent brownies include the Super Pure, which has the consistency of a molten chocolate cake and is iced with Belgian and Venezuelan chocolates. Then there's the Liquid Cupcake, a 3-ounce shot of thick, warm, drinking chocolate. The pretty boutique also imports chocolate candies from all over, including screen-printed truffles from California filled with exotics such as rose oil, and hand-painted chocolate shoes. Try them all on. Pure Chocolate, 102 Franklin Street, Quincy, 617-328-6248, pure-choc.com

Vicki Lee Boyajian is back on the scene, and so are her fresh berry dacquoise and classic French petits fours. VICKI LEE'S is now open in Belmont, not far from the shop that made Boyajian a local light for decades. It's bigger and better than the old place, serving up more than spectacular cakes, tarts, and cookies. The star baker has brought in a chef to prepare savory dishes, and her sunny spot is a great place to meet up with a friend for lunch or pick up dinner - just don't skip dessert. Vicki Lee's, 105 Trapelo Road, Belmont. 617-489-5007, vickilees.com

The Real McDreamy
That tempting grilled burger smell wafting through Kenmore Square isn't fast food. UBURGER makes all of its burgers and fries fresh - nothing's frozen, pre-molded, or pre-cut, and even the meat is ground on-site. Try the Boom Burger, a quarter-pound patty topped with cheddar cheese, fried jalapenos, and a homemade smoky, peppery chipolte sauce. Then cool off with a frappe made with local Richardson's ice cream. UBurger, 636 Beacon Street, Boston, 617-536-0448

Chinatown Chow
There comes a moment in a great relationship when you know it's going to last. At XINH XINH, a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown, it's when your avocado shake arrives - sweet, creamy, and topped with pale-green foam. Though the place looks like your standard Chinatown haunt, the food is exceptionally fresh and good. Chao tom, an appetizer of grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane, is salty-sweet; the chewy shrimp and the yielding crunch of the sugar cane make you keep munching. Hu tieu nam vang is a delicate broth chock-full of springy noodles, shrimp, pork, quail egg, and tiny, tender fish balls. Bottoms up. Xinh Xinh, 7 Beach Street, Boston, 617-422-0501

Top of the Morning
For too long, it's been tough to find a great - or even a good - breakfast in Harvard Square.
Sure, on parents' weekend, you should avoid Z SQUARE. But the rest of the time, it's open season for locals to sit downstairs for crepes, croque-monsieur, eggs with roasted vegetables and toast, even beignets. You might decide to come back for lunch or dinner.
Z Square, 14 JFK Street, Cambridge, 617-576-0101, z-square.com

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