Best of Boston 2009

| Boston Magazine |

BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

AL FRESCO: Sophia’s Grotto

22R Birch St., Roslindale, 617-323-4595, sophiasgrotto.com

In a mere four years this precocious trattoria has grown up into an authentic Old World beauty, its cloistered brick courtyard now mature with ornamental trees and grasses and a massive climbing hydrangea. Prices, though, have barely changed at all, with big bowls of pastas and other Italian standbys averaging about $15. With the patio’s bee lights twinkling overhead and a glass of sweetly chilled Grechetto in hand, you’ll find Roman holidays don’t come any cheaper than this.

FRENCH: Gaslight

560 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-422-0224, gaslight560.com

Among the numerous suitors vying for our affections in this category, it’s the South End phenom Gaslight that’s romanced us best. The booming brasserie gets the vintage Parisian accents exactly right, and serves up skillfully swizzled cocktails and well-executed bistro fare (classics like choucroute garni and onion soup gratinée, plus stunning fruits de mer platters) at a price guaranteed to bring out the bon vivant in any Bostonian.

ITALIAN: Il Casale

50 Leonard St., Belmont, 617-209-4942, ilcasalebelmont.com

When dining at Il Casale, don’t be surprised if your companions—having mopped the last bit of tangy, rich marinara from their plates—start hatching a plan to move to the suburbs. Who wouldn’t want to get closer to food like this? Dante de Magistris’s newest venture is not only stylish and affordable, with most entrées under $20, but it also does full justice to the Italian home cooking that inspired it: rustic minestra, feathery gnocchi, seriously good meatballs.

ROMANTIC: Ten Tables

597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-8810; 5 Craigie Cir., Cambridge, 617-576-5444; tentables.net

Talk about spreading the love. This year the team at Ten Tables expanded across the Charles, giving Hub cuddlers the choice of intimacy (the tiny J.P. original) or intrigue (the new Cambridge location, full of cozy dark nooks). Both locations feature upscale comfort dishes, like house-made pasta and skillet roasted Giannone chicken, for under $25. Chef David Punch also does a nightly $45 prix fixe, ostensibly for customers with other things on their minds than menu decisions.

SUSHI: Douzo

131 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-859-8885, douzosushi.com

Like laser eye surgery and brake repairs, raw fish is something we’re loath to cheap out on. Rather than risk gastric distress—or merely off-tasting nigiri—we get our budget-sushi fix at the Back Bay’s Douzo, where the ambiance is polished and the sashimi as glistening-fresh as it is at the astronomically pricey joints. Ample space at the bar means it’s a cinch to belly up for a quick lunch, while the scores of tables means there’s no silly reservation policy standing between you and your maki.

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  • frederick

    spanish octopus, hearts of palm, greek sardines, pacific fish with avocado & citrus on everything? If that's local I'll eat my hat. The PR marketing machine is local though…

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  • Anonymous

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