We've long lamented the disappearance of the three-martini lunch. But if such a luxury were still to exist, it would go down at Davio's. Since relocating to its current perch in Park Square, Steve DiFillippo's institution of Italian dining has reclaimed a position of power. Well-heeled Back Bay business types shuffle in each afternoon, scarfing down generous portions of pasta with glasses of house-filtered water, on the rocks. 75 Arlington St., Boston, MA davios.com/.
Does Boston need another Italian restaurant? If it's Umbria, the answer is a resounding yes. Chef Marisa Iocco is turning out flavorful cuisine from Italy's bucolic central region, which means straightforward grilled, slow-braised, or brick oven-roasted food. It also means melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, and moist, pan-seared cod loin with creamy celery root purée. And unlike its North End brethren, Umbria offers desserts—amazing ones, at that. 295 Franklin St., Boston, MA umbriaprime.com/.
In a neighborhood chock-full of great places to eat, Tremont 647 stands out as the community hangout for dinner, not to mention for its wacky come-dressed-in-your-pajamas Sunday brunch. Locals flock here in droves for chef Andy Husbands's menu of comfort food, from momós (Tibetan dumplings) and homemade tater tots to grilled skirt steak and garlic sausage pizza. 647 Tremont St., Boston, MA tremont647.com/.
Serving huge portions of flavorful curries and other Thai specialties at affordable prices, Brown Sugar is a perfect match for the tastes and budgets of the undergrads, musicians, and medical students who live in this neighborhood. In addition to less fiery offerings like "Siamese Twins" (shrimp and chicken in a sweet-and-sour sauce), there are such authentic dishes as laarb gai (minced chicken in a spicy lime sauce). Service is prompt but friendly, and the free parking—limited, but a rarity in these parts—means outsiders can enjoy one of the city's best pad thais, too. 129 Jersey St., Boston, MA brownsugarcafe.com/.
Used to be this hophead's delight was available only on the occasional tap at, say, F.J.Doyle's in Jamaica Plan. As of April, though, the good people at the Tremont Brewery, way over in Charlestown, started running product through their million-dollar bottling line. The ale is alty, extremely well-hopped and just the right shade of light copper. By now, it should be flying off the shelves at your neighborhood's finest packy.
For moms and dads who simply can't bear Ronald McDonald's plastic leer any longer, this French bistro is a godsend. A menu pour les enfants features beignets de poulet (chicken fingers) and tartine au fromage fondu (grilled cheese) with mounds of pommes frites. At brunch, brioche French toast with berries and baskets of fresh pastries will sate and soothe the hungriest toddler. Plus, the service ranks high with frazzled parents: Be it highchair requests or spill mop-ups, the waiters behave like saints. 255 State St., Boston, MA 2109, seldelaterre.com.
This family-owned ice cream parlor is a flashback to the '50s, but what better era to find a real New England ice cream frappe? Here they've perfected the art, with three straw-bending scoops of ice cream blended in a tall frosty frappe glass (five scoops for the extra-thick variety). Your choice of nine flavors, including mocha, black raspberry, mint, and cherry, or mixed with strawberries, banana, or pineapple. 743 Washington St., Newtonville, MA .
Valet parking and reservations? In the North End? Absolutely, at this house of refined and authentic Italian cooking tucked away in North Square. Better still, it's perfect for large parties, thanks to well-timed service and tables spaced just far enough apart to provide both privacy and a jolt of the room's energy. Add Rockwellian views of the neighborhood, the menu's mix of traditional and creative dishes, a diverse wine list, and you've got large-party dining nailed. 3 North Square, Boston, MA mammamaria.com/.
Its name means "Land of Eternal Youth" in Gaelic, but this smallish bar in Union Square hosts both young and old. Proprietors Robert Elliot and Patsy Wheelan run a welcoming pub, where those with a brogue out-number those without. Patsy's band Zozimus (starring Billy Bulger's son Brendan, on fiddle) rocks the house on weekends, and during Sunday seisiunsan Irish gentleman can sing an old folk song to the respectful silence of the whole room. Tasty food is available; parking is easy. 366A Somerville Ave., Somerville, MA .
Stripped down to its raw form, a martini is just a stiff belt of gin, which any jamoke can pull off a no-name bottle in an alley. So how to judge? Presentation and accouterments. The white-jacketed waiter at the plushy-not-stuffy Bristol pours each traditional martini tableside from its own chilled shaker with not one, not two, but three meaty olives. Utterly civilized. Keep in mind, while the martini is traditional, the $9 price tag is a tad nouveau. Four Seasons Hotel, 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
You could go to Pottery Barn. Or you could go to the Gifted Hand and—gasp!—buy something original. This well-lit Wellesley gallery sells handmade ceramic bowls, contemporary blown-glass vases, and hand-woven chenille throws that you won't find anywhere on the mass market. Pick up a vibrant tiled mirror, antique gold compass, or engraved wooden picture frame and add some unhomogenized touches to your home. 32 Church St., Wellesley, MA 2482, giftedhand.com.
It doesn't take a very discerning eye to look at Sarah Cihat's reglazed vintage plates and know that they are cool. Knowing whether they'll look good on your dining room table paired with a particular Michael Aram eucalyptus-branch candlestick—now, that requires talent. Koo de Kir's straight-out-of-a-Dwell-spread salesclerks take the intimidation out of mod design with their friendly, helpful hints and advice, letting shoppers spice up their abodes with confidence. 65 Chestnut St., Boston, MA 2108, koodekir.com.
Contemporary doesn't have to mean mod. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams gets this, and sells a mix of retro furnishings alongside pieces with cleaner, more classical lines. There are sophisticated neutrals and playful colors, accent pillows and striking lamps, even stylish "seating" for your pet. Best of all, many of the items we like most are affordable. 142 Berkeley St., Boston, MA mgbwhome.com/.
A Vineyard Haven mainstay, the Artcliff Diner is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Try the popular almond-crusted French toast; get indulgent with the Green Monster, which loads scrambled eggs, cheese, avocado, and spinach on top of tortilla chips; or go big with the hearty Irish breakfast. Brunch is served daily, and staffers never allow your coffee cup to dip below half full. 39 Beach Rd., Vineyard Haven, MA .
It doesn't take a very discerning eye to look at Sarah Cihat's reglazed vintage plates and know that they are cool. Knowing whether they'll look good on your dining room table paired with a particular Michael Aram eucalyptus-branch candlestick—now, that requires talent. Koo de Kir's straight-out-of-a-Dwell-spread salesclerks take the intimidation out of mod design with their friendly, helpful hints and advice, letting shoppers spice up their abodes with confidence. 65 Chestnut St., Boston, MA koodekir.com.