The 50 Best Restaurants 2009

It's a simple question: "Where should we go for dinner?" Yet ask it and brace for a cacophony of opinions, as every magazine, newspaper, and user-generated-review website vies to serve as your gastronomic guru. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to pull it all together, to herd that surfeit of recommendations into one single, convenient, yet statistically meaningful index? To have a Metacritic, of sorts, for local grub? We thought so, too. Presenting the ultimate ranking of Hub dining, as determined by every major dining expert and amateur critic out there.

35. Rendezvous

Score: 59.57
High: Phoenix **** Low: Yelp *** 1/2
Our score: 3.75

Steve Johnson calls on Mediterranean flavors from North Africa to Italy, yet his best dishes come from local ingredients, like the rosemary grown on his roof.

ORDER THIS: Gascon duck three ways.


L’Andana’s sleek dining room and top-quality steaks and pastas represent a more luxurious style of Italian-American cooking. (Photograph by Bob O’Connor)

36. L’Andana

Score: 58.66
High: Phantom 91 Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 4

Jamie Mammano of Mistral and Sorellina brings haute cuisine to the ’burbs, with a Tuscan-inspired menu of pastas and grilled meats. Of his three properties on the list, this one is Boston’s favorite.

ORDER THIS: Veal chop with mushroom Marsala and polenta.

37. The Butcher Shop

Score: 58.42
High: Boston 4; Yelp ****
Low: Chowhound 2.8

This ultimate carnivore’s haunt (and none-too-shabby wine bar) turns out expert charcuterie, plus pasta and meaty entrées like Kobe tri-tip with sweet-and-sour shallots.

ORDER THIS: Truffled tagliatelle.

38. Via Matta

Score: 56.82
High: Yelp **** 1/2 Low: Herald **
Our score: 3.75

When Via Matta hits its groove, it produces the most authentic Italian food in the Hub; a standout is fedelini with tiny clams.

ORDER THIS: Crunchy eggplant with basil-marinated tomatoes and Reggiano.

39. Dante

Score: 56.81
High: Phoenix **** Low: Herald B-
Our score: 3.75

This riverside hotel restaurant serves just-tweaked-enough Italian classics. Our pick for “Best Italian” in 2008.

ORDER THIS: Any of the house-made spaghetti dishes.

40. Scampo

Score: 56.39
High: Herald B+ Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 4

Lydia Shire is all about big flavors and big portions, but she always manages to stay her hand before things get too wacky. The result: creative dishes that still flat-out work.

ORDER THIS: Kurobuta pork.

41. 51 Lincoln

Score: 56.05
High: Phoenix **** Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 3.5

Jeff Fournier is the best kind of hands-on chef, making his own pasta and charcuterie and imprinting all his dishes with an independent flair. We might not go as far as the Phoenix’s four stars, but the food is terrific all the same.

ORDER THIS: The updated caesar.

42. Lineage

Score: 55.11
High: Phoenix **** Low: Chowhound ** 1/2
Our score: 3.5

We loved Jeremy Sewall’s cooking at Great Bay, and his modern eatery brings a welcome don’t-mess-with-a-good-thing restraint to the bistro standards.

ORDER THIS: Cod cheeks in smoky tomato sauce.