Just because you're bringing home a bambino doesn't mean you have to turn the place into a romper room. This modern furniture store offers colorful French and Italian items that can make a nursery seem as hip as a South End loft. The goods aren't cheap, but they're long-lasting, and many pieces are designed to grow along with your kids. The DucDuc Dylan set, for example, begins as a crib and changing table, transforms into a toddler bed and dresser, and ends up a coffee table and bar your little nipper can take off to college. 82 Boylston St., Brookline, MA .
Linda Reisert likes to say she cleans closets for a living—which she does—but that covers only a fraction of her work. In reality, Reisert gets paid to think for her clients, and to know precisely when and where they'll reach for life's necessities. Her roster of VIPs draws heavily upon the city's business elite, people who value her talent for tailoring services: In the case of working moms with a tendency to hoard, Reisert is equal parts therapist and taskmaster; for globe-trotting money managers with multiple offices and homes, she's an invisible ally who streamlines personal calendars and business files. 38 Hancock St., Boston, MA 2114, .
Giacomo's South End location is just like its bustling counterpart on Hanover Street, only without the tourists lined up at the door. Affable co-owner John Taglieri makes guests feel at home as waiters whisk perfectly seasoned pasta dishes and sophisticated dinner specials to their tables. Portions are generous, so sharing is advised—particularly if you plan on taking advantage of another feature that makes this red-sauce joint stand out from most of its North End rivals: It serves dessert, including a killer tiramisu. 431 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA .
This spanking-clean Chinatown eatery makes neophytes feel welcome without sacrificing neighborhood authenticity. Even better, the food leaves us so invigorated that we'd swear it has health-boosting effects—xinh xinh means 'young and beautiful,' after all. Start with the fortifying chicken or beef pho (sure to put a glow in your cheeks), move on to more-substantial dishes like ca kho to (caramelized catfish) and banh mi bo kho (beef stew with crusty rolls), and head home in a perfect harmony of serenity and satiety. 7 Beach St., Boston, MA 2122, .
With the steady proliferation of Whole Foods, Bruegger's, and Panera, there's no shortage of places to stock up on baked goods out west. Bread & Chocolate, a three-year-old independent outfit in Newtonville, rises above all that mass-produced stuff on the strength of such house-made offerings as fluffy Irish soda bread, pecan-studded sticky buns, glossy fruit tarts, whoopie pies, and gigantic coconut cupcakes filled with lemon curd. The coffee shop atmosphere here goes a long way, too—and the ultracreamy cappuccinos help wash down every last bit of those oh-so-crumbly raisin scones. 108 Madison Avenue, Newtonville, MA 2460, .
Notice how you never see entrepreneurial vegans hawking tempeh off the side of a truck? The reason is simple, really: To get people to follow you to random parking lots, to eat from Styrofoam cartons, to endure absolutely zero ambiance, the food has to be freakin' amazing—and that usually requires the involvement of fatty animal parts. M&M Ribs nails the whole formula, with chopped smoked pork tossed in tangy barbecue sauce and those namesake ribs, which make for smoky, (plastic-)fork-tender racks of carnivore heaven. Corner of Hampden Street and Norfolk Avenue, Dorchester, MA 2119, mandmribs.com.
You'll probably be underwhelmed by the squat, nothing-special exterior, but trust us when we say your reaction to chef Job Yacubian's Mediterranean cuisine will be quite the opposite. In fact, it's the whole diamond-in-the-rough appeal that makes the BYOB meals her—spring pea pudding, potato gnocchi in Parmesan broth, bacon-wrapped yellowfin—so spectacular. Judging by how hard it is to get a reservation and Bittersweet's celebrity clientele, it's safe to say this ever-changing West Tisbury spot (formerly the Red Cat, then Ice House) has hit its stride. 688 State Rd., West Tisbury, MA 2568, .
Its name may sound utilitarian, but don't be fooled. This homey café makes the most tempting sandwiches on the island, like the aptly named Turkey Terrific: Thick, home-baked wheat bread topped with smoked turkey, buttery stuffing, cranberry sauce, and just enough mayo creates portable perfection for the beach or taking in the Straight Wharf view. Our only advice: Try not to order it every day; the entire sandwich menu, as well as the homey, baked goods and sweets (lemon squares, cranberry-walnut pound cake), deserves your full attention. 3 Harbor Sq., Nantucket, MA 2554, .
Sure, you can find a crib or changing table at any old baby-furniture warehouse, but here's what you'll be missing: design staffers who will come to your home, interview your child (who may or may not answer back), and determine the best furniture match for her budding personality. Meanwhile, they'll scope out the rest of your pad to ensure the nursery jibes with your carefully chosen décor. Expect high-end contemporary pieces by the likes of Oeuf and Monte, streamlined beauties that are still comfortable enough to take the edge off those 3 a.m. feedings. 82 Boylston St. (Rte. 9), Brookline, MA 2445, bellabambinidesign.com.
For anyone over 30, the mere mention of 'the Alley' might evoke bad memories of sweaty, oversexed undergrads. Indeed, that scene lives on—but not at the Estate, a two-story nightclub a cut above the rest. It offers upscale bottle service in its six VIP areas overlooking the dance floor; the ultraexclusive Kiki and Shag rooms also come with private servers, cushy seating, and guest appearances by Paris Hilton, The Hills star Audrina, and assorted other celebutantes, Wahlbergs, and Red Sox. To get in, you'll have to either reserve ahead (an AmEx black card comes in handy) or catch the eye of the discerning bouncers. A tip: Leave the tank tops and ripped jeans at home. 1 Boylston Pl., Boston, MA 2116, theestateboston.com.
You could go for the smoked quail and date appetizer. You could go for the now-famous undulating wood ceiling. But the best reason to go to Banq is to simply sit, and watch the social hopefuls preen. When the French-Asian fusion spot made its debut in the South End this winter, boldfacers came from far and wide. These days, Banq still draws its share of top chefs, fashion insiders, and media darlings—who cluster around the low-lit tables, sipping Collalbrigo prosecco and air-kissing passing acquaintances—but the dressed-to-the-nines newcomers looking to hobnob are themselves the best show on all of Washington Street.
Tracy Bonham began her career in music playing violin at age 9. Originally from Oregon, Bonham came to Boston to attend Berklee, and paid her tuition by recording jingles for radio airplay. But true success came when she picked up a guitar and began writing her own songs. She was discovered quickly and hyped madly until, after a bidding war, she landed on Island Records (home of U2 and PJ Harvey). But Tracy has not forsaken her fiddle—her violin is still omnipresent in her first CD, The Burdens of Being Upright.
The Poet Laureate of Beacon Hill, the Oracle of Joy Street belongs in the ranks of Boston's most distinguished literati. His remarkable first book, The Hotel Wentley Poems (1959), made him an overnight star of the Beat generation. He hobnobbed with Ferlinghetti during San Francisco's late 1950's Poetry Renaissance, and was a longtime crony of the late Allen Ginsberg. Known as both Genius and Holy Mad Man, he inspired an entire generation of younger poets with his wit and delicate lyricism. This year, after more than a decade of silence, he published a splendid new collection, 707 Scott Street.
When he took over the storied Casablanca space in Harvard Square, chef Michael Scelfo promised that for his first solo venture, he’d serve fare inspired by the dinners he makes for his family at home. We can’t help but wonder—is the Scelfo clan really supping on briny Woodbury clams coated in a rich pig’s-tail-laced sauce, crunchy chicken-fried rabbit drizzled with chili oil, and cocoa-rubbed lamb sirloin? It’s perhaps unlikely—but if true, then they’re as lucky as we are to experience Scelfo’s inspired, flavor-jammed brand of cooking. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, aldenharlow.com.
Ellen Kempner’s vocal melodies have a tendency to shoot up high without warning, just like her hands on the fretboard of her guitar during bouts of frenzied rocking. It’s this unpredictability that brings excitement to Dry Food, the debut album from her band, Palehound. The trio recently made an appearance at Boston Calling, where after their last song, Kempner said, appropriately enough, “We’re Palehound, from right here!” The band plans to record their follow-up in the fall. Here’s hoping they go far, but always remain nearby. palehound.bandcamp.com.