The 50 Best Restaurants
Salts has an atmosphere of such genuine warmth that it’s the destination for special-occasion dinners. (Seriously: On our most recent trip, every table in the room was toasting something.) A commitment to local food means everything tastes just-picked fresh, and an experimental spirit — the platings are ultracool — makes for dishes that delight you even before they hit your lips. >> Order This: Any fish dish; the chocolate crémeux with peanut ice cream. >> Great For: Date night.
798 Main St., Cambridge, 617-876-8444, saltsrestaurant.com.
The menu is all over the place: It’s heavily Italian, with plenty of pasta and pizza. But then there’s roti with curried chicken. And lamb rump steak with Persian ravioli. And shrimp étouffée. In short, there’s no theme to Lydia Shire’s Liberty Hotel restaurant, other than “tasty.” The creamy, fresh mozzarella is the perfect vehicle for toppings like prosciutto and fennel pollen. Any house-made bread is done just right. And the entrées? They’re about as far from delicate as can be. And that’s just the way Shire (and we) like them. >> Order This: Kurobuta pork chop; mozzarella. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering.
215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.
When a restaurant’s culinary substance matches its style, that’s a beautiful thing. Jamie Mammano’s Back Bay eatery is no doubt one for the see-and-be-seen set, but the kitchen’s swankified takes on Italian standards like spaghetti and meatballs — here reimagined with tubular maccheroncelli pasta, Kobe beef meatballs, and a butter-heavy Barolo sauce — stand up to the soaring ceilings, elegant flatware, and impeccable service. >> Order This: Maccheroncelli with Kobe meatballs; any seafood appetizer. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, standout wine list.
One Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-412-4600, sorellinaboston.com.
It isn’t for everyone. If you’re weird about personal space, steer clear; the counter seating means you’ll be dining next to strangers. If you want intimacy, you’re out of luck; it’s bright and noisy. And if you’re in the market for something formal, you’re better off elsewhere; this is a diner-style joint with a bakery inside. That said, those are the reasons we luuuuurrve Sportello. It’s quirky, and we appreciate that dishes like strozzapreti with rabbit and picholine olives are so casually yet successfully presented. >> Order This: Anything from the pasta and polenta menu. >> Great For: Vegetarian dining.
348 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-1234, sportelloboston.com.
T. W. Food
A collaboration between chef Tim Weichmann and his wife, Bronwyn, this Huron Village gem overflows with care. The chef’s impeccable technique turns simple dishes like a soft-scrambled egg with trumpet mushrooms into something you’ll dream about for days. And with Bronwyn making recommendations and ensuring tables are vanquished of crumbs, a dinner here feels like being coddled and spoiled. >> Order This: The grand tasting menu; the soft-scrambled egg. >> Great For: Date night, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.
377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745, twfoodrestaurant.com.