303 Café

Perfect stranger
By PHIL AMARA  |  November 7, 2007

Appreciate the distinct character of East Boston: the streets are named after Revolutionary War figures such as Sumner and Putnam, yet a bridge is dedicated to golden-age pro wrestler Frank Scarpa. It’s home to the Don Orione Shrine’s giant Madonna statue and the Suffolk Downs horse track. In a neighborhood of peculiar contrasts, there’s room for the slick 303 Café, right?

Food-wise, this is a clean departure from formative pizzerias (Santarpio’s, Kelly’s Pub) and sub shops (Roy’s, Milano’s). Owners Melinda Jones and Tom Clackett’s menu is adventurous for these parts. For breakfast, fuel up with Barrington Roasting Company coffee and fabulous Portuguese-bread French toast ($7) topped with Nutella, raspberry sauce, and Chantilly crème, or a spicy curry-tofu scramble ($6). For lunch, try a chicken burrito ($8.50), tabouleh-and-feta salad ($9), falafel-and-tzatziki wrap ($8), bison burger ($9.75), or Gouda, bacon, and turkey club ($9) on sourdough with ultra-crispy housemade potato chips. Dinner pushes the eclectic factor even further with a tasty kalamata, gorgonzola, and garlic pizza ($10.25), hearty chicken-and-beef empanada ($8.50), and an ambitious banana-leaf-roasted Atlantic salmon ($12.25).

At first, the café seems to clash with a tenured neighbor such as A&L Bakery, not to mention posthumous Tony’s, the storied Italian restaurant where customers’ neckties were once snipped off for fun. 303 would better fit the South End’s urban yuppie hollow. But the Eastie waterfront has remained a developers’ hotspot, and this freshman café is likely one of many that will salvage the Jeffries Point storefronts. As Bostonians lumber unwillingly into another gray winter, warmly lit 303 Café is a great place to curl up with the ol’ laptop, sip several cappuccinos, and stuff your face.

303 Café, located at 303 Sumner Street, in Boston, is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 6 am to 9 pm, and Sunday, from 7 am to 3 pm. Call 617.569.3001.

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