Feast and Fete
Enjoy a dinner at Radius and you and your guests will understand why chef-owner Michael Schlow won the James Beard Award. His modern American cuisine — think seared scallops with spinach fondue, wild mushrooms, and Meyer lemon emulsion — is perfectly complemented by a pleasant dining room thats seats up to 60 and sits adjacent to the wine cellar, which is a former bank vault. >> 8 High St., Boston, 617-426-1234, radiusrestaurant.com.
Catch the Mediterranean spirit at an afternoon gathering for up to 55 on this eatery’s enclosed brick patio, complete with herbs, flowers, a bubbling fountain, and a fig tree. Chef Ana Sortun serves up a multicourse mezze-style luncheon, meaning you won’t find any pigs in a blanket here: We’re talking chickpea crêpes with smoked cinnamon aioli, or lamb steak with Turkish spices and fava bean moussaka. It’s a home (far) away from home. >> 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505, oleanarestaurant.com.
As its name suggests, the Brahmin, which opened last summer, is all about the Boston of yore. Modeled after a Back Bay brownstone — it features exposed-brick walls, chandeliers, and tufted brown banquettes — this place calls to mind a New England manse at the turn of the 19th century. But everything else is thoroughly modern, including the shared plates — tuna tartare and steak frites, among others — and the flirty cocktails. With seating for nearly 100, it’s old-meets-new done right. >> 33 Stanhope St., Boston, 617-723-3131, thebrahmin.com.
This Newton restaurant, which has space for 38 in its semiprivate dining room, is stunning in its simplicity. The walls are adorned with black-and-white photographs of local farms. Sheer curtains let in natural light in the early evening. There’s no blaring music, no kitschy decorations, no over-the-top décor, and no glaring color schemes. Instead, the focus is on chef Michael Leviton’s French bistro cuisine, made from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. That means delicacies like a Northeast Family Farms hanger steak served with exotic mushrooms and balsamic vinegar sauce, or Rhode Island fluke tartare with soy-sesame vinaigrette. With food and ambiance like this, it’ll be love at first sight. >> 1293 Washington St., Newton, 617-244-9199, lumiererestaurant.com.
Grill 23 & Bar
We challenge you to find a guy who doesn’t walk into Grill 23 and grin like a fool. With its mahogany paneling, massive Corinthian columns, marble accents, brass detailing, oak floors, and new high-tech A/V system, this spot just feels undeniably manly. That’s not to say that women don’t also appreciate Grill 23’s clubby feel — and its prime dry-aged beef and extensive wine list. The Exeter Suite upstairs accommodates 26 and has a cozy fireplace perfect for evening affairs. Even better, the happy couple gets a dedicated chef and staff for the party. Now look who’s smiling. >> 161 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-542-2255, grill23.com. Photo by Person+Killian
If we could take one chef with us to a deserted island, it would be Erbaluce owner Charles Draghi. The man knows how to cook just about anything found in the wild: braised sunflowers with herbed ricotta; rack of wild boar roasted over walnut shells. When the rescue boat arrived, we’d wave it away and continue feasting. So just imagine the delicious morsels Draghi can dream up for your get-together. Erbaluce’s private dining room holds up to 75, and while the décor is low-key, the food is as vibrant as can be. >> 69 Church St., Boston, 617-426-6969, erbaluce-boston.com.
South End hot spot Mistral is a grand restaurant, with arched floor-to-ceiling windows and dramatic topiaries, but its private room for 60, Le Salon e Mistral, feels both intimate and chic. The standout menu showcases unfussy French-Mediterranean fare — e.g., Dover sole meunière with lemon and capers, sauté of spinach and onions, and fingerling potatoes — and the overall vibe is hip but not pretentious, even if Tom and Gisele do stop by the bar once in a while. >> 223 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-9300, mistralbistro.com.
A former city jail that once housed the Boston Strangler might seem like a questionable place to host a party, but hey, times have changed: Guests here now stroll through the Liberty Hotel’s luxe lobby past vestiges of holding cells to get to Scampo (Italian for “escape”). The private dining area seats 45 and boasts views of the bustling kitchen, where chef Lydia Shire and her crew turn out Italian-inspired dishes like lobster pizza and garlicky grilled clams over risotto. All in all, this is one place you’ll be glad you locked down. >> 215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com. Photo courtesy of Scampo.
What’s cool about a party in a wine cellar? Everything. With double-vaulted ceilings, a renovated Italian mosaic from 500 A.D., and hundreds of bottles to choose from (some vintages date to 1876), dinner at the Wine Cellar at Mooo is a high-class affair. Up to 50 guests can feast on modern steakhouse dishes from chef-owner Jamie Mammano — filet mignon with truffled Parmesan fries, or Cornish game hen with a side of creamed spinach, perhaps? — in this private dining room built on the foundation of a 1722 Beacon Hill mansion. We’ll drink to that. >> 15 Beacon St., Boston, 617-670-2515, mooorestaurant.com. Photo courtesy of Mooo
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