The 50 Best Restaurants

Il Casale’s broken lasagna

Il Casale

Like any good Italian grandson, chef Dante de Magistris gives all the credit to his nonna. But while many of the dishes at his Belmont restaurant come from her kitchen, only de Magistris could make them somehow elegant and unfussy, rich and restrained. Salty-crisp guanciale and impossibly soft eggs elevate a carbonara; grilled whole trout is dressed with just enough bright citrus to enhance the fish’s flavor. >> Order This:  Broken lasagna; any of the other homemade pastas. >> Great For: Group gathering.

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

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Duxbury’s Island Creek Oysters are so ubiquitous locally, we’ve come to consider them the gold standard. (Sorry, Wellfleets.) So the opening of the farm’s eponymous restaurant last year was long past due, and already we can’t imagine Boston without it. In addition to bivalves, chef Jeremy Sewall offers his takes on chowder and the lobster roll, not to mention entrées such as grilled Faroe Island salmon with fennel. >> Order This:  Oysters, of course; lobster-roe noodles; Mrs. Bennett’s seafood casserole. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, creative cocktails, standout wine list.

500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com.

La Morra

When a grease fire shuttered this Brookline gem in March, we feared a never-ending Olives-style closure. Would we ever again see chef Josh Ziskin’s Tuscan meatballs with porcini mushrooms? Thankfully, it was only two months until La Morra was cranking out tagliatelle anew. Start with a handful of cicchetti, such as fried olives, before tucking into entrées like rabbit-and-polenta lasagna. >> Order This:  Any of the pastas; the fried eggplant entrée, when it’s in season. >> Great For: Date night.

48 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-739-0007, lamorra.com.

L’Andana

Getting out of the city can do wonders for clearing the mind — and, in the case of L’Andana, filling the belly. At his Burlington restaurant, chef Jamie Mammano (Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, Mooo) wisely presents a menu that’s light on fuss and heavy on flavor. This is office-park country, after all, and Mammano doesn’t bother with precious, tiny-food-on-a-big-plate cooking. Here you’ll find rich Marsala-glazed veal meatballs; thick, savory wild mushroom soup; and a runny four-cheese fonduta. Even the tuna tartare, infused with citrus, is unapologetically bold, and the wood-grilled steaks are pure, elemental pleasure. >> Order This:  Wood-grilled meats; carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, standout wine list.

86 Cambridge St., Burlington, 781-270-0100, landanagrill.com.

L’Espalier

Our testers are constantly on the lookout for signs they’ve been noticed — too many “gifts” from the chef; a suspiciously good table on a crowded night. At L’Espalier, though, we can never tell; everyone is getting lavished with attention. And every plate is photo-worthy, be it the veal tenderloin braised in hay-infused milk, or the butter-poached lobster with vanilla-scented squash. >> Order This:  The chef’s “Seasonal Degustation” menu. >> Great For: Date night, business engagement, vegetarian dining, creative cocktails, standout wine list.

774 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-3023, lespalier.com.

  • Rebecca

    Find it hard to believe you did not include La Campania in your top 50. It consistently is ranked in the top 10 in the Boston area by Zagat and others. The quality of the food and the exceptional wine list are hard to beat.

  • Jennifer

    You forgot to mention STELLA in the south end, this is an amazing restaurant one of the best in the city ( top 5). It is open until 1:30am with an amazing menu and one of the best brunchs on sundays!!

  • Michael

    Where’s Journeyman?

  • Barbara

    Andy Husbands of 647 Tremont and Sister Sorel is an amazing chef. This is a place not to be missed.

  • Jerry

    You missed 75 Chestnut St.
    Not only GREAT food, but very very reasonable. You should not have to be the most expensive to be on the list.

  • Mannie

    I went there for my birthday and I specifically ordered this dish that included jumbo shrimp. They gave these tiny little shrimp in replacement for the jumbo shrimp. The rice was way under cooked. The waitress was rude. I e-mailed the head chef and complained about the food and service. No reply. She sucks too. Snobby people would probably think this place was good. I would rather go to Chinatown and eat, cheap or expansive. You always get great food.

  • Leoni

    Nice list!

    I just heard of this great site that’s launching soon called TableZest. They let you browse and discover the best restaurants in Boston and also offer personalized restaurant recommendations. It’s great because looks like you can make reservations directly from their site, even for the same day at popular spots.

    Curious to see which restaurants from this list make it on their site!

    They’re at http://www.tablezest.com if you want to check it out.

  • Alex

    I’ve been to Sonsie many times and absolutely love it. Think it should be on this list!