Best of Boston

2003 Best Al Fresco Restaurant, Upscale


The backyard patio of Oleana puts chef Ana Sortun’s superb North African- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine into context. Visually, the area is stunning. A weave of red brick is the canvas for umbrella-covered tables scattered just far enough apart to balance privacy and sociability. Large, multilevel beds of colorful flowers, herbs, garlic, and a thriving fig tree create the convincing illusion of the far-away Mediterranean. Chef Sortun and her kitchen staff put the garden’s gifts to good use, often cutting fresh lemon verbena for ice cream, infusing the prolific lovage into a rich tomato spread that goes atop grilled flatbread, or adding summer savory to a pickled vegetable mix. On Tuesdays, when local Turkish musicians play their traditional lutes, tefs, and zurnas, you’d swear you were in an exotic café in Bodrum.

134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505,