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The Honest Eater: Grafton Grill & Crust

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When we think of venturing beyond Hopkinton for dinner, Grafton is not often the first place that comes to mind. 

But a neighborhood eatery nestled just off Route 122 challenges our thinking, and with prices at Metrowest restaurants up an astonishing 5.1% since 2023, a drive to a less expensive suburb makes for a compelling reason to explore establishments further afield.

Full disclosure: Grafton Grill is not new, nor is this our first time eating here. What is surprising to us is how many Hopkintonians are unaware of this fantastic local option. 

Grafton Grill & Crust bills itself as “Grafton’s Best Restaurant“, and from our experience that’s an accurate statement. Owners Steve and Lori Belfiore have lived in Grafton for more than 20 years with their family. Both of them wished there were ”Boston type” restaurants in Grafton, and in 2016 they set out to build one. 

Prior to Grafton Grill, Anzio’s Brick Oven Pizza was a go-to option for many in Hopkinton. But with Anzio’s departure for Northborough in 2019, Belfiore saw the opportunity to expand the menu and bring wood fired pizza back to Grafton.

The choices are expansive, with an array of starters, salads, mains, sandwiches, and of course, wood fired pizza, courtesy of an oven imported from Italy. Grafton Grill also features a Specials menu which changes frequently.

For those that are gluten sensitive / free, almost everything on the menu can be made with allergies in mind, including the pizza. If you’re not a gluten free eater, share that tidbit with one of your GF friends and note their reaction.

Like any good meal, we started with a round of drinks – a glass of wine, a couple of martinis, and the Blueberry Basil Moscow Mule, a specialty on their cocktail menu. Grafton Grill excels in the booze department, with 12 signature cocktails and a comprehensive set of craft beers on tap (including Hop Load Hazy from our friends at Start Line Brewing). The Mule had a refreshing taste that combined the sharpness of the ginger beer, floral notes of blueberry, slightly sweet warmth of the vodka. Too many of those would get you into trouble on a warm night.

Our party of four was famished and we eagerly dove in to the appetizers. We ordered the Crispy Brussels sprouts, Hand-Cut Truffle Fries, and – follow us here – a Pickle Pizza off the Specials menu. We know, it sounds weird, but we just had to try it, and we were glad we did. Mozzarella, blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, barbecue ranch, potato straws and parsley on (in our case) a gluten-free crust. The vinegar of the dill pickle contrasted well the sweetness of the barbecue sauce, and the sour of the melted blue cheese brought it all home. For those that prefer a “traditional” pizza, they have plenty of those too, but once in a while it’s fun to take a risk.

As noted, we’ve been to Grafton Grill before, and the Crispy Brussels Sprouts are always a part of our meal. Even if you think you hate Brussels sprouts, you won’t after you have them here. Regarding the parmesan sauce that accompanies them: if Steve and Lori ever get tired of the restaurant business, they could bottle that sauce, sell it, and retire millionaires. 

Here’s a fun fact: Over the past 20 years, Brussels sprouts have been selectively bred to reduce their bitterness and enhance their sweetness. Plant breeders have focused on developing varieties with lower levels of glucosinolates, the compounds responsible for the bitter taste. This selective breeding has led to Brussels sprouts that are more palatable and appealing to a broader audience, which is why you see them on so many menus these days. It’s true that they tasted awful when you were a kid, but now they’re much more palatable. 

On to the mains. We ordered Grilled Sweet Miso Salmon, Korean Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Steamed Mussels (from the Specials menu) and bone-in Buffalo wings. The salmon arrived beautifully presented and the balance of flavors was excellent, including the broccoli rabe, but the fish was a little overcooked. It was ordered medium-rare and came out well done. We forgive them.

The Short Rib Grilled Cheese was meaty and rich, and after all those appetizers, half of the sandwich came home in a takeaway box. It wasn’t bad on the second day either.

The mussels were special. Coated with a light coconut and lemongrass curry sauce, they were fresh, flavorful, well-seasoned, and had just the right amount of heat.

No meal with friends is complete without something sweet to share. Gluten-free Carrot Cake and Peanut Butter Cup Pie were ordered, and not a crumb was left behind.

We ate and drank like Vikings that night, and the total bill came to $275.53 before the tip, making it a competitive choice that is just 20 minutes from parts of Hopkinton.

And because this is an honest review, we’ll add this: The Phad Thai is not our favorite. It’s just OK, and there are better options to choose from. The fish tacos, while generous in size, could use a little more sauce.

The service, as always, was friendly and competent. Lori runs the front of the house while Steve works the pass to make sure everything comes out as ordered. In between you will often see them visiting with their regular customers.

Grafton Grill does not take reservations online, but if no one answers the phone, just leave a message. We’ve never had trouble getting in, although that may change now that Hopkinton readers are on to it.

Grafton Grill & Crust | 10 Bridge Street, North Grafton, MA | (508) 839-0333

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 4:00 – 8:00. Friday and Saturday 4:00 – 9:00. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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