The next best thing to box seats is a booth at the Four's. Here, the dining room and bar feature warm woodwork and tasteful displays of sports photography, while the menu has an upscale edge—grilled chicken wraps, mussels fra diavolo. On game days, this Garden-area institution is as dressed up and well mannered as the folks in the good seats. 166 Canal St., Boston, MA 2114, thefours.com.
Stop us if you've heard this one before: City chef heads to the 'burbs, ditches fine dining for comfort fare, and watches culture-starved locals pour in. Original or not, we're smitten with Il Casale, which opened this spring in Belmont's old fire station. Maybe it's because owners Dante deMagistris and brothers Filippo and Damian grew up in the neighborhood. Or it could be the simple family recipes. Who cares? We just want some more of that gnocchi with porcini cream, burrata with pistachios, and fluffy tiramisu. 50 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, ilcasalebelmont.com.
When dining at Il Casale, don't be surprised if your companions—having mopped the last bit of tangy, rich marinara from their plates—start hatching a plan to move to the suburbs. Who wouldn't want to get closer to food like this? Dante de Magistris's newest venture is not only stylish and affordable, with most entrées under $20, but it also does full justice to the Italian home cooking that inspired it: rustic minestra, feathery gnocchi, seriously good meatballs. 50 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, ilcasalebelmont.com.
This converted firehouse now sports all the trappings of a rustic Italian ristorante, including thick wood tables, exposed brick, and soft lighting. And the food is just as appealing: Notable dishes include gnocchi enrobed in fontina cream sauce and walnut pesto, crisp arancini stuffed with scamorza, and Silician roast chicken doused in a tangy lemon-caper sauce. The genial servers, meanwhile, make every meal at this bustling Belmont restaurant memorable. 50 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, ilcasalebelmont.com.
The rustic ambiance of chef Dante de Magistris's ode to homestyle Italian cooking belies the refined dining experience here. Service is warm and knowledgeable—and the food ethereal, from the tangy tomato bread pudding to the gnocchi with a basil-pistachio pesto that's as fresh as spring. 50 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, ilcasalebelmont.com/.
There may be a better Italian wine list in Italy, but maybe not. 53 Prospect Street, Waltham, MA .
Co-owner Jeannie Rogers should be every restauranteur's model sommelier. 53 Prospect Street, Waltham, MA .
Maurie Warren used to run a Le Bocage, and before that was a Kamman protégé. Now he's turning out terrific veal and seafood entrées. 53 Prospect St., Waltham, MA .
Tiny, with northern Italian specialties. Chef Maurie Warren is outstanding. 53 Prospect St., Waltham, MA .
Rogers' unsurpassed knowledge of Italian wines makes her a living treasure for the wine connoisseur. A co-owner of this suburban Italian oasis, Jeanne is responsible for the lengthy and impressive wine list, one of the finest such collections in the country. Most of the wines come from northern Italian "craft" wineries and splendidly complement the northern Italian menu. 888 Main St., Waltham, MA .
Here, genre-bending hard cider is finely crafted in gorgeous steel tanks or a phalanx of barrels. A visit to the tasting room ($6 per pour, or $10 for a flight of five tastes) is the best way to swirl and sip the vast spectrum of Bantam's oeuvre—from a lightly effervescent cider with hibiscus flowers and fresh mint to a sour, funky wild-yeast variety. Snack away on complimentary pretzel rods stylishly splayed in Mason jars, and once you've identified your new favorite cider, take home a bottle, a four-pack, or a growler for the perfect souvenir. 40 Merriam St., Somerville, MA 02143, bantamcider.com.
A lack of hassle is one major thing to look for in a cleaning service; the other, sparkling results. The Maids are the sole local pros in the tidying-up business who nail both every time. Armed with a serious stash of cleaning products, the uniformed crews deploy from their sunny yellow vehicles with a speed-oriented, no-fooling-around plan that leaves every corner of the target home immaculate. And unlike some experiences we've had with other, larger services, the Maids have yet to mix up our keys with another client's, or let our indoor cat outside. 179 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, .
We aren't ones to cry over spilt milk, as our floors can attest; our couch has more hair on it than our cat. Without a speck of judgment, the Maids clean up our act month after month, dusting baseboards, degriming showers, and all but eliminating any traces of pet (except for, of course, the pet itself). They're quick, well priced, and unobtrusive: Aside from the preternatural sparkle and neatly triangled toilet paper, you'd never know they'd been there. 179 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, .
Five floors house an Italian bistro, a formal dining room, a glitzy dance club, and prime people watching. 295 Franklin St., Boston, MA .