To be clear, the word " delicatessen" in Moody’s moniker is not meant to imply eats of the kosher Jewish variety (though after a bite of the piled-high pastrami sandwich or peppery corned-beef version, you may be convinced otherwise). No, this Waltham destination sets out to celebrate every kind of animal protein, with the most astonishing breadth of fastidiously house-cured and smoked meats you’ll find anywhere in the area (all of which, of course, still pair perfectly with a side of house bagel chips and a can of Dr. Brown’s cream soda). 468 Moody St., Waltham, MA 2453, moodyswaltham.com.
When it comes to customer service, Bentley's is peerless. The Copley Place store manager, Berge Ounjian, is on hand to offer personable, expert advice, and is always attentive to your needs and budget. It's refreshing to find a store that offers top-of-the-line variety (Tumi, Hartmann) and its own custom gear, as well as quality mid-range alternatives, matched with a staff that knows when to offer advice and when to let your browse. Also worth nothing is Bentley's Luggage and Gifts, the larger sister store in the Mall at Chestnut Hill, which has an equally warm and knowledgeable sales staff. Copley Place, Boston, MA .
There are no ocean breezes or views of passing sailboats at Grillfish's location in the Back Bay. But the fried calamari melts in your mouth without leaving a coating of grease on your fingers, the pan-seared scallops are plump with an appealing crisp on the outside that seals in their juicy flavor, and the grilled fish—from trout to mahi-mahi to catfish—is light, flaky, and cooked to perfection. Who cares if the plates don't match, the wine list is written on a chalkboard, and the columns in the dining room are meant to look like the masts of lobster boats? A little kitsch is not such a bad thing when the fresh fish is so good. 162 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA .
Admit it: Even the inevitable grass, food, and spit-up stains won't discourage you from dressing your tot to the nines. And who can blame you? A trip to Lester Harry's could persuade every parent that the little pumpkin should be outfitted in the finest of European fashion: Bienvenue sur Terre shirts and tees, Marcel et Leon linen shorts, Lili Gaufrette sundresses. While you're at it, pick up a couple of sets of custom-tailored crib sheets. By the time you leave, you won't know what's cuter: your angel-faced nipper—or the store. 140 Washington St., Marblehead, MA lesterharrys.com/.
It could be the soft lighting and rich hues of creamy taupe, burgundy, and deep orange in the dining room. Maybe it's the Francophile's dream of a wine list. It might even be the comfortable and confident service. But ultimately we think it's chef Mark Allen's food that pushes the romance quotient at his Newton restaurant Le Soir to hot and steamy. The heady aromas of chanterelle mushrooms, truffle oil, and even slowly cooked rabbit potpie fill the air while the sensuous textures of crispy-skinned roast duck fill your mouth. A meal here with anyone is special, but with your significant other, it's a night to remember. 51 Lincoln St., Newton, MA .
You do a mean AC/DC, and the world deserves to hear it. Even if you must endure a couple's lovingly howled 'Summer Nights' duet before taking the stage, there's no better platform for your talents than the Courtside: Its expansive karaoke room is populated by a vocal audience Thursday through Saturday, and the refreshments—a large pizza and a pitcher of PBR for $13—are ample incentive for everyone to stick around. If you tend to dampen your pre-performance jitters with too much brewski, rest easy knowing that the teleprompting screens are enormous enough to be read even through beer goggles. 291 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 2141, .
Sometimes it's impossible to resist buying something fabulous when the price has plummeted. That's when your tailor becomes your best friend/ The mark of a great tailor is the ability to pare something several sizes too big down to size without sacrificing the design. This small shop (located in the garage of The Atrium) transformed a heavily discounted Donna Karan skirt and made it look practically custom-made. The pros here also altered a heavily beaded bodice, work that required a large degree of finesse, and they did it in less than a week. The Atrium Mall, 300 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, MA .
Call it whatever you want—the Puppy Palace, the Kitty Kastle—no euphemism will ever fool pets into believing a kennel is as good as their own bed (or yours). But when you just can't bring them along on the family trip to Cabo, this is the next best thing. Indoor and outdoor play spaces, trained staffers, and stimuli aplenty make for boarding that's almost fun; at-home visits cater to the finicky, moody, or antisocial. Plus, the DogScoop's handy pickup/drop-off service makes coaxing Cupcake into the car or crate their problem, not yours. 216 Webster St., Newton, MA 2465, thedogscoop.com.
For everyone out there who thinks you're attractive, chances are there's someone else who thinks you look like Shrek. Makeup tilts the odds in your favor. Fifteen-year vet Wagener works with your best features—and plays down the rest—to produce a flawless, universally appealing visage. Plus, the top-quality mineral-based products from fanatically beloved Japanese skin-care line Shu Uemura stand up to the hottest public spotlight, as well as those more prosaic 9-to-5 fluorescents. 130 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .
Choosing a new pair of glasses or sunnies is one of the most difficult shopping tasks, second only to shopping for jeans. One glance in the mirror is hardly enough to determine whether you’ll like this new addition to your face next month—to say nothing of whether the style will still look au courant next year. Enter Spectacle, a small shop that sells logo-free, non-branded glasses in a bevy of timeless shapes and colors. Its 60-day exchange policy lets you actually live with your new look before making any major commitments. Imagine if the same rules applied to denim. 505 Tremont St., Boston, MA spectacle-eyeware.com.
Walk your pooch within a block of any Polkadog location, and you’re guaranteed to feel a sharp jerk on the leash pulling you toward the store’s front door. Perhaps Fido can smell the drool-inducing Clam Chowda strips. Maybe he remembers the free snacks generously doled out by pet-loving staffers. Whatever the reason, it’ll be worth the embarrassment of being walked in by your dog, given that you’ll also love browsing the shelves stocked with colorful toys and leashes. Too bad most cats don’t go for walks, because a lot of this is available for felines, too. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA polkadog.com.
Some couples just aren't black-type-on-ecru people. Enter Rugg Road, a shop chock-full of carefully chosen papers and paper accessories far more unique than formal. Distinctive options abound, including hand-pressed floral papers, silvery-hued sheets, and gampi paper made from a plant found in the mountains of Japan. The process of custom-designing your own invitation can be daunting, so the staff will assist at every step of the way, from helping to select the perfect font to cutting your paper to just the right size for laser printing. 105 Charles St., Boston, MA ruggroadpaper.com/.
Few people bother to write the Better Business Bureau to impart praise, but Gentle Giant, which gets 80 percent of its customers from repeats and referrals, inspires fierce and outspoken loyalty. "The 'giants' are impressive!" reads one client's testimonial for the Somerville-based chain on the bureau's website. "Their presence actually reduces the stress level!" With a number of standout amateur athletes (big ones) in their ranks, these guys can really hustle, yet they won't drop your mom's antique vase or sweat-stain your suede couch—and they frequently come in below estimate. 29 Harding St., Somerville, and other locations, MA 2143, gentlegiant.com.
Your great-aunt Mildred has just passed onto that great anti-macassar in the sky, leaving you with a marble-tipped, ormolu-encrusted dresser the size of a Peugot. Your entire studio apartment could fit into the bottom drawer. What to do? Call Stuart Whitehurst. if you want some idea of the quality of Skinner's sales, visit its showroom. But not to worry, even if all that ormolu turns out to be dross, press on. Skinner has a large facility in Bolton, where treasures of less-distinguished pedigree can be found in its monthly "Discovery" sales. Skinner, 63 Park Plaza, Boston, MA .
From the second the linen hits your lap to the last spoonful of velvety chocolate dessert soup, Salts is a downright lovely experience. Before that soup, though, comes everything else: the warm, chewy, promptly delivered potato bread, the educated and accommodating staff, the subdued yellow décor, and the daring and well-priced wine list. All of the above are mere groundwork for chef Steve Rosen's bold and delightful savories—the honey-seared salmon with chamomile and preserved lemons, for example. Or his roasted rabbit sausage with artichoke confit and fennel. It's like Mother always said: Eat your lavender-glazed duckling with rhubarb preserves, and then you can have dessert. 798 Main St., Cambridge, MA saltsrestaurant.com/.