Eat like an insider: Jess Willis - Metro US

Eat like an insider: Jess Willis

Independent Restaurant Group's Jess Willis
Lauren O'Neil

As the Chief Operating Officer of the Independent Restaurant Group (Somerville faves — the Independent, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, River Bar and Brass Union), Jess Willis knows what makes a good meal. But what does she crave after a long night out? “A glass of Whistle Pig” — it’s an honest answer. The 45-year-old Somervillian chats her favorite places to get a quiet solo brunch in Teele Square and reminds us of an often-forgotten (but totally delectable) South End favorite.

Best meal under $5?

“A slice of Bianchi’s pizza, eaten while sitting on the wall at Revere Beach.” 322 Revere Beach Blvd., Revere, 781-284-9471.

Best hidden gem?

“Nothing is really hidden anymore but the Wine Shop at Dave’s Fresh Pasta is a true gem to me. They carry a small but delightful selection of wine — small producers, mostly old world-styles, really great food wines. I stop in pretty regularly to browse. I always find something new to try.”81 Holland St., Somerville, davesfreshpasta.com.

Best place to dine alone?

“With three kids and five restaurants to attend to, I rarely have the chance to dine alone. Every once in a while, I enjoy sneaking away for a quiet breakfast by myself at Renee’s Café in Teele Square.”198 Holland St., Somerville, 617-623-2727.

Place you always take out-of-towners?

“That has to be Sarma. It’s walking distance from my house and I’ve yet to bring anyone there who hasn’t fallen in love with it. It is, for me, the perfect place for any occasion. I could happily eat there every day.” 249 Pearl St., Somerville, sarmarestaurant.com.

Go-to date spot?

“My husband and I had a standing Friday lunch date at the Druid for quite some time. We don’t get there as often these days, but it is still one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon with him. A good pint, great food, charming bartenders and a cozy space.”1357 Cambridge St., Cambridge, druidpub.com.

Best place to catch up with friends?

“Delux Café — my friends and I have been meeting up there since the ‘90s. We camp out for hours, drinking gin and tonics. Being there makes me very happy, a little nostalgic and always pleasantly tipsy!”100 Chandler St., Boston, 617-338-5258.

Most Instagrammable restaurant in town?

“Everything about Shōjo is camera ready. There’s this wall mural you can get lost in, gorgeous cocktails, great looking food. It’s such a fun place, great energy that runs through everything they put out — visually and otherwise.”9 Tyler St., Boston, shojoboston.com.

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