Housed in a historical building that was stripped down to its studs and renovated, the restaurant has two floors and showcases reclaimed wood and the work of local artists. It has a casual yet upscale feel to it.
Downstairs there's a 20-seat bar and a dining room with banquettes and distressed wood tables. The open kitchen offers additional seating at the chef's bar. Upstairs there's a 15-seat bar, a small dining room, and a private dining room. A brick patio and deck are available for outdoor dining (when the weather warms up again).
Jeff and I made the trek from West Roxbury out to Sudbury -- the last part of the journey on dark roads -- on a November Thursday evening. After driving through what felt like no man's land to get to the restaurant, we were surprised to find the front parking lot full. Luckily, we soon realized there was more parking in back.
We walked in through the bar area and were greeted by the hostess and shown to a booth upstairs, passing through the lower dining room and by the open kitchen to get there. We sat down and as I looked over the drink menu, with a nice glass of red on my mind, I was instantly swayed by the Shelburne Farms cider margarita. It was the most wonderful concoction of tequila (Milagro Reposado), apple cider, Grand Marnier, muddled orange, and cinnamon -- just the thing for a fall evening. It left me wondering why I'd never tried combining tequila and cider before.
As I sipped my cider margarita, we sampled the bread, along with oil, hummus, and olives. The hummus was a bit too smoky for my tastes (or maybe the smokiness was just too unexpected to me) and the bread was a simple herbed focaccia.
We ordered the cucumber salad, fried artichokes, and a coal-fired pizza to start. The cucumber salad was full of pickled red onions, finely chopped kalamata olives, and thin shavings of ricotta salata. It was a light, refreshing kick-off to the meal.
The fried artichokes were my favorite appetizer, and since Jeff thinks he doesn't like artichokes (I'm sure he would if he just tried one), I got to eat them all. The artichoke hearts came lightly battered and fried. They were crispy and warm. And as I ate them, I dipped them in the country mustard remoulade that came with them. I could have licked the plate clean if such a thing were acceptable in public.
We should have tackled the margherita pizza, with its slow-roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, as soon as it was delivered to the table (instead of after the salad and artichokes). It was starting to get a little soggy when we got to it. Texture aside, it was very tasty and had a nice thin crust with crispy edges. I particularly enjoyed the sweet roasted tomatoes. (Word to the wise: Eat it right away.)
For his entree, Jeff opted to try the pork milanese with pomodoro sauce, buffalo mozzarella, and basil oil. The thin breaded pork cutlet arrived on a bed of linguine with gobs of gooey melted cheese and a pile of tomatoes. The basil oil added another dimension to the dish and really complemented the tomato sauce.
I had to go with the rigatoni with Bolognese sauce. The al dente pasta covered in a meaty tomato sauce and shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano hit the spot. It was a serious bowl of comfort food. After all the appetizers, it was hard to eat very much of it though, so I ended up taking it home and snacking on the leftovers for the next two days. It doesn't look like there's so much on first glance, but the portion is incredibly generous.
And those who know me know that no matter how stuffed I am, I have a hard time saying no to dessert. There's always room for a couple bites of something sweet, right? We went with the rich, fudgy, ganache-covered chocolate cake with a scoop of cookie dough ice cream on the side.
It's hard to find restaurants outside Boston that live up to Boston standards, but 29 Sudbury definitely fits the bill of offering a Boston dining experience outside the city. I enjoyed the food and thought the portions were generous and the prices reasonable (the fried artichokes at Stella are $12; here, they're only $9). It's obvious that others are loving the restaurant as well, as the dining rooms were full and the bars packed.
While I honestly can't see us venturing out to Sudbury all that often, I think it's a great option for people who live in the area and want the Boston dining experience without the long drive. And it's certainly somewhere I'll remember to stop in if I am in the area. I'd especially love to go back and try their brunch. The sausage and potato hash is calling my name.
Where's the best place you've dined outside Boston recently?
This meal was complimentary. All opinions are my own.