The 50 Best Restaurants
80 Thoreau’s bone-in pork chop with winter squash
They say man cannot live by bread alone, but for Posto’s bruschetta, we’d be willing to try. With candy-sweet roasted tomatoes, creamy goat cheese, and the perfect crispy/chewy ratio, it’s almost enough to make you forget the rest of the menu. But that would mean missing the expert pastas, superfresh seafood, and pizza so authentic it’s been certified by Neapolitan authorities. >> Order This: Margherita pizza; steak burger with cheddar; affogato with vanilla gelato. >> Great For: Group gathering, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.
187 Elm St., Somerville, 617-625-0600, pizzeriaposto.com.
Chef Anthony Caturano is a guy’s guy. He’s a big-game hunter, a fisherman, a carnivore to the core. So it’s no surprise that some of Prezza’s best stuff comes from the wood grill — a veal porterhouse with saffron-lobster risotto; a prime rib spun for hours on the rotisserie. And everything from the pumpkin ravioli with mascarpone to the mussels with chorizo polenta is bold, bold, bold. You want dainty food? Go somewhere else. You want big flavor and even bigger red wines? This is your kind of place. >> Order This: Wood-grilled squid and octopus; spicy mussels; the rotisserie special. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, standout wine list.
24 Fleet St., Boston, 617-227-1577, prezza.com.
Long before the skinny-jeans crowd claimed Central Square, chef Steve Johnson made it a cool spot to dine. For six years now he’s been putting out inventive western Mediterranean fare (sourced from local farms and a rooftop garden), serving it all up in a rehabbed Burger King. Add in the bang-for-your-buck wine list and tasty sippers (the “Nehru,” made with saffron and cardamom, is a must), and it’s a diamond in the rough-around-the-edges neighborhood. >> Order This: Turkish pizza; braised pork-and-veal meatballs with toasted orecchiette. >> Great For: Date night, group gathering, vegetarian dining, creative cocktails.
502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-1900, rendezvouscentralsquare.com.
Poor Charles Hotel. How many people pass through its lobby nightly, ignoring its staffers’ smiles and glazing over its décor? Blame Rialto: The second-floor restaurant has such pull, no one seems to notice anything else. Patrons make a beeline for the bar. They angle for tables, antsy to try the olive oil–poached lobster and slow-roasted duck. They come in for the prix-fixe menus inspired by regions of Italy. And then they skitter away, only to return the next time they crave butterscotch budino. >> Order This: The four-course “Regional Cuisine” menu. >> Great For: Date night, business engagement, group gathering, vegetarian dining, creative cocktails, standout wine list.
One Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-5050, rialto-restaurant.com.
It’s hard not to be annoyed when great local chefs decamp to other locales. So we’re ecstatic that when Carolyn Johnson left Rialto, she stayed within our sphere. At 80 Thoreau, she wows Concord with appealing (but not too out-there) fare like a bone-in pork chop with winter squash, and seared scallops with melon, peppers, and almonds. If our city’s thunder has to be stolen, let it always be done like this. >> Order This: Anything grilled. >> Great For: Group gathering, vegetarian dining, creative cocktails.
80 Thoreau St., Concord, 978-318-0008, 80thoreau.com.