Tray Chic

By Annie B. Copps | Boston Magazine |

Cafeteria Boston boasts a sparkling scene, but the food fizzles.

As befits its Newbury Street location, Cafeteria Boston draws a regular crowd of uncommonly pretty people (its website trumpets a recent visit from Gisele). And the menu—with its selection of vaguely Mediterranean favorites, like pan-roasted chicken, lobster ravioli, and pizzas—seems designed to appeal to a range of tastes. But aside from some well-executed salads and a darn good steak (topped, unfortunately, with wilted fries), the food is so-so. The pizza Margherita is an odd, thin cracker bread drowning under too much tomato sauce and cheese. The gnocchi with braised short ribs, at $20, is a head scratcher: 18 pieces of well-made pasta with a few chunks of meat and a half-inch of sauce (was it meant to be a stew?). The small bar turns out decent cocktails, but the staff needed instructions for a Negroni.

If food is only your secondary concern, you’ll be happy enough. The interior, with its minimalist cork upholstery, is lovely, and the mood is upbeat. You’ll probably run into someone you know—or wish you did.

279A Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-2233, $$$

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