It's the perfect equation: Good food plus a great cause means everybody wins. The Place: Pammy's The Order: Chef Chris Willis’s artisanal breads (rustic Pugliese, please!), available for $20 a loaf. The Cause: Half the bread-loaf proceeds benefit a weekly-changing charity supporting BIPOC communities, like the American Civil Liberties Union. aclu.org The Place: Trina's Starlite Lounge The Order: Chill out during a socially distant summer with the frozen whiskey smash ($12). It gets a hit of crème de cacao alongside the standard lemon and mint. The Cause: Two bucks per drink—made with booze from a Black-female-run Tennessee distillery named for Nathan “Nearest” Green, an enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels whiskey making in the 1850s—goes to Black Lives Matter Boston. blacklivesmatterboston.org The Place: The Picnic Grove at Cambridge Crossing The Order: Take your pick! At this two-month-long al fresco pop-up, chef Will Gilson will preview multiple menu highlights from the Lexington, his restaurant/café/rooftop bar juggernaut that is slated to open in September. The Cause: A portion of all July and August proceeds goes to Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a food-rescue organization marking its 10th year of service. lovinspoonfulsinc.org
In the four years since Michael Schlow moved to Boston, he has become not just a major figure on the local culinary scene, but on the national ones as well. So when he left Cafe Louis to plan his own place, foodies eagerly awaited his next move. The impeccably designed Radius more than survived the attendant hype to become the restaurant sensation of the year. Offering a distinctive counterpoint to Boston's culinary old guard, Schlow's strength is his understanding of flavors and texture. To that end, he finds the finest ingredients and uses his mastery of technique to treat them with the utmost respect. His pork confit is memorable, meltingly soft and sweet, made in a classic confit technique of cooking the meat in its own fat, which, paradoxically, heightens the flavors without making the confit fatty. As for his striped bass, Corby Kummer wrote that "the impeccable conception, execution, and presentation would be hard to find in any arrondissement [in Paris.]" With food like that, he added, "I'll fight for a table wherever [he's] cooking." 8 High St., Boston, MA .
Like moths to a flame. That's how we're drawn to Michael and Jill Leviton's extraordinary Newton restaurant, Lumière. The couple's recipe for refined simplicity and excellent service starts with the crisp, white-on-white tones of the dining room, tempered with warm-hued upholstery you can't help but run your hands over. But the main ingredient is chef Michael Leviton's cuisine. His menu is mostly French in inspiration, though he dips into other parts of the Mediterranean, and occasionally into Asia, for plates that are minimalist in design and void of fussiness, yet bright and bold in flavor. He lets the principal ingredient anchor a dish like pan-seared, pristine sea scallops, then surprises us with rich and sweet truffled foie gras butter or a taste of caramelized fennel. He also keeps a watchful eye on everything from the homemade bread to the desserts. The cherry on top is the calm, efficient, confident, thorough, and knowledgeable service. We wish there were more restaurants like Lumière on this side of the city limits. 1293 Washington St., Newton, MA lumiererestaurant.com.
There would be a lot more strangers in Boston without this multicultural networking group, which aims to remind business leaders of all backgrounds that our economy is a web, stronger when we work together. Run by public relations maven Colette Phillips, the organization has long linked a diverse range of professionals through job listings, a digital magazine, and high-profile events honoring influential people of color. Now it’s doing so through webinars about how small businesses can survive the pandemic, mentoring sessions with senior execs, and more—all online for everyone to take part in. getkonnected.com.
Partisans know Christina's does weird very, very well. Honey-lavender? Refreshing. Kaffir lime? Luscious. What truly sets it apart, however, is its finesse with more-familiar flavors, like coffee, pistachio, even vanilla—not to mention a frozen chocolate mousse that's better, and cheaper, than any we've found on a restaurant dessert menu. Our favorite scoop, peanut butter chip, is so thick and creamy you half want to eat it with a knife and fork, though in the end the standard cone does the job nicely. 1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 2139, christinasicecream.com.
Scientists theorize that cute babies have had an evolutional leg up, as our Stone Age ancestors were less likely to abandon them. Modern-day parents are obviously far more civilized—but all the same, one could argue that Olivia Rose owner Gloria Peotrowski does give her tiny customers an edge. Her racks of darling yet functional clothing and accessories—including tees from California brand Le Top, colorful leggings by Mulberribush, and jumpers by Sweet Potatoes (tagged with product names like 'You're My Pumpkin Pie')—make their wearers so adorable, they'll be able to get away with anything. 1945 Ocean St., Marshfield, MA 2050, oliviarosechildrensboutique.com.
Even if this nationally lauded salon relied only on the coifing talents of Russo himself, it could top our list. But with the same perfectionist style and daring he brings to a haircut, Russo has assembled a powerhouse of crackerjack stylists. There's master colorist John Brosnan. Experts like Corey Henderson and Michael Casey (who just grabbed a Best of New York for his work as head colorist at Oribe salon) shuttle regularly between Manhattan and Newbury Street. Then there are the smaller (but no less appreciated) perks, like terrific manicures from Maria Rodrigues, and the best head massages known to man. 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA mariorusso.com/.
Some Sunday mornings require a little time spent catching up with our favorite sister, bloody mary. And the best place to find her in these parts is at the East Coast Grill. The bloody mary bar here goes beyond the traditional to offer tipplers a choice of ingredients—citrus squeezes, herbs, spices, vegetables, and hot sauces—to add to their base of vodka and tomato juice. From there you can get to the next order of business: pulling up to a hearty plate of grilled sausages, tropical fruit pancakes, a fluffy avocado—black bean—salsa omelet, cornbread-crusted French toast, and the Sunday paper. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.
In our fish-fanatic city, it seems unlikely that many diners would chose to trek to a landlocked town for seafood. That a lot of people do make the trip to Winchester says a lot about Catch, where the clean décor is as calming as waves crashing on the beach and wholesome, seasonal ingredients enliven each of chef Chris Parsons's satisfying dishes. Don't miss the summer braised lobster, which arrives atop a crepe stuffed full of fragrant maitake mushrooms, spinach, and mascarpone cheese, or the flaky halibut accompanied by yellow beans, fingerling potatoes, and fragrant green garlic. 34 Church St., Winchester, MA 1890, catchrestaurant.com.
Boston is blessed with a bumper crop of young culinary talent injecting our food scene with energy and enthusiasm. But while many seem to spend as much time on the party circuit as they do in the kitchen, Robert Sisca has retained a singular focus: turning out exacting Provencial fare. The deceptively simple plates he creates at Bistro du Midi—pan-roasted cod with golden raisins and chorizo; grilled Mediterranean sea bass with slow-cooked fennel—employ the meticulous French technique he honed under chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York. 272 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, bistrodumidi.com.
We Bostonians didn't need Frank Bruni to tell us that O Ya is extraordinary. But when the New York Times food critic named it the best new U.S. restaurant outside New York City, he shined a klieg light on just how good the place is—and repositioned our fair city as a worthy dining destination in the bargain. Husband-wife team Tim and Nancy Cushman have created a gastronomic jewel box full of dazzling innovations like ivory salmon with red curry and toasted garlic, and foie gras with chocolate-balsamic sauce. And Boston is richer for it. 9 East St., Boston, MA 2111, oyarestaurantboston.com.
Of course, the better story would have been some cheese sliceslinging hole in the wall beating out the gourmet spots as our pizza parlor champ. Maybe next year. For now, you can't do better than the thin, chewy-crusted pies at Stone Hearth Pizza. If rarified toppings like arugula, white beans, Yukon gold potatoes, hot Thai peppers, and all-beef, nitrate-free pepperoni sound a smidge pretentious—well, yeah, they are. But they also make a mighty tasty pizza. And with a price tag of about $11 for a whole pie, you can afford to keep it real with a $4 draft. (A $4 artisanal microbrewed draft, but still.) 57 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, stonehearthpizza.com.
In the traditional-furniture smackdown, the allure of an artisan hunched over his work right here in Massachusetts always wins out. So in Dovetail, a 20-year-old family-owned company based in Holden, just 50 miles from Boston, it was clear that we had our champ. Using hand-selected hardwoods, these folks turn out masterfully crafted, individually signed Shaker, Mission, Arts and Crafts, and Prairie furnishings, as well as custom work fit for any Ivy League reading room. Which, since Dovetail counts Harvard, Yale, and Princeton among its customers, only stands to reason. 2284 Washington St., Newton Lower Falls, MA 2462, furniturebydovetail.com.
Whether you’re a cacao purist or someone who thinks outside the standard chocolate box, you’ll no doubt find something to savor from this Somerville-based online chocolatier. Cofounders Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney have a knack for inspired flavor pairings (pomegranate, jasmine tea, and Guinness Stout have all shown up in their chic bonbons), but their more-traditional varietieshazelnut bark, single-origin dark chocolate "pods," chocolate-chew candy barsare just as fun to savor. And because the duo recognizes that we eat with our eyes first, each handcrafted confection is as strikingly beautiful as it is delicious. ehchocolatier.com.
Call it meal-on-a-bun fatigue: Occasionally we grow weary of gyros, grilled cheeses, and Maggi-splattered bánh mì—no matter how good they are. Hence our obsession with this truck’s Iraqi and Middle Eastern street food, which features feta-stuffed phyllo, fattoush salads stippled with sumac and fresh herbs, and Persian specialties like khoresht-e bademjan brimming with hunks of beef and roasted eggplant. Correction, July 1, 9 a.m.: A previous version of this post stated that Burke Weston is the chef of Sheherazad food truck and that the truck serves no sandwiches. In fact, Weston is no longer the chef, and the truck serves wraps. We regret the error. sheherazadfood.com.