The 50 Best Restaurants 2009

Ranked like you’ve never seen restaurants ranked before.

21. Rialto


Score: 65.89 High: Globe ****
Low: Boston 3.5; Yelp *** 1/2

Jody Adams’s affinity for Italian ingredients (caciotta cheese, figs) makes Rialto’s menu sing.

ORDER THIS: Duck with braised escarole, roasted fingerlings, and Sicilian olives.


22. B&G Oysters

Score: 65.14 High: Phoenix ****
Low: Herald ** 1/2  Our score: 4.25


Creative takes on seafood standards, including skate wing in brown butter sauce and a lobster roll lined with bacon, shore up this Barbara Lynch venture as our go-to for fine, if pricey, finned fare.

ORDER THIS: The lobster roll.


23. Troquet

Score: 64.55 High: Yelp **** 1/2
Low: Globe ***; Boston 3.75


Prime views of the Common make this classic French outpost an inviting, often-overlooked retreat; the 40-plus wines by the glass make it an oenophile’s paradise.

ORDER THIS: Roast suckling pig.


24. Lumière

Score: 64.24 High: Yelp **** 1/2
Low: Chowhound ***1/2 Our score: 4


Some of the most personal, well-imagined restaurants thrive in left-of-center locations. So it is with West Newton’s most esteemed eatery, where Michael Leviton (see Persephone, #18) expresses his love of hearty French cooking.

ORDER THIS: Seared sea scallops.


25. Pigalle

Score: 63.53 High: Phantom 85
Low: Chowhound *** 1/2  Our score: 4


At Marc Orfaly’s French hideaway in the Theater District, standards like cassoulet, coq au vin, and crème brûlée are worth lingering over. (The chef’s experimental, Asian-tinged stuff is less reliable.)

ORDER THIS: Pheasant and foie gras tortellini.


26. Toro

Score: 62.96 High: Yelp **** 1/2
Low: Globe ** 1/2  Our score: 4.25


If it were only up to us, we’d have nudged this a little higher on the list, given the genre-busting tapas, hip fiesta vibe, and hidden gem of a weekday lunch service.

ORDER THIS: Grilled corn con alioli.


27. Blue Ginger

Score: 62.90 High: Phantom 93
Low: Chowhound *** Our score: 3.5


With Blue Ginger’s new lounge and Asian tapas menu, celebrity chef Ming Tsai has again proved his business acumen—even as he continues to pull off an impressively coherent fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines.

ORDER THIS: Garlic–black pepper lobster with lemongrass fried rice.


28. UpStairs on the Square

Score: 62.63 High: Phantom 88
Low: Boston 3.5


The décor, evoking a bohemian princess’s private chambers, draws us in; the solid, imaginative food, like the crackling duck confit with toasted gingerbread and quince and the handmade ricotta cavatelli with short ribs, puts this place over the top.

ORDER THIS: Butterscotch pudding.


29. Excelsior* This restaurant has been closed

Score: 61.60 High: Phantom 91
Low: Chowhound *** Our score: 3.5


At this polished eatery overlooking the Public Garden, chef Eric Brennan’s well-sourced menu (Point Judith calamari, Wolfe Neck filet mignon) can rival the dramatic view, but consistency is an occasional bugaboo. Even non–sweet tooths should give the stellar desserts by pastry whiz Molly Hanson a whirl.

ORDER THIS: Lobster schnitzel with sunchoke-roasted garlic custard.


30. Benatti

Score: 61.51 High: Phoenix ****
Low: Boston 2.75


Soon after arriving in town last winter, Italian native Andrea Benatti set up shop in an off-the-beaten-path location in East Cambridge and nailed glowing reviews in the papers and on Chowhound. Pastas and risotto shine, though the kitchen is sometimes heavy-handed with sauces. Also costing points on our scorecard: out-of-season standards like prosciutto with cantaloupe.

ORDER THIS: Porcini risotto.



  • Anonymous

    just go have dinner – don't try to impress everyone with your bad usage of "BIG" words

  • F

    just go have dinner – stop trying to impress us
    with your BAD usage of what you think are BIG words

  • Anonymous
  • Kaitie

    Why are there so many places listed here that have closed within the last year? Without even an asterisk noting that they are no longer open? This is misleading to people who don’t follow the Boston food scene closely.

  • Jamie

    Duly Noted. We just made the adjustments on the 2009 version. The latest issue on newsstands (January), has the 2010 Best Restaurants feature, Where to Eat Now