Cries of fine dining’s demise flooded the foodie ether when Ken Oringer closed Clio just short of its two-decade anniversary. But that decision has given the chef, as well as partner Tony Messina, the space to more fully develop the restaurant’s award-winning sister concept next door. Along with new street foods like a Vietnamese bologna bánh mì tartine, Oringer has expanded his sushi program to include cutting-edge nigiri (roasted carrot with vadouvan crème fraîche), maki (pickled sweet potato), and sashimi sourced straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, uni-boston.com.
Calling all plant lovers: This sweet Salem boutique has everything you need to transform your home into a garden oasis you’ll (really!) never want to leave. The best part? You can order its birds-of-paradise, philodendrons, and ferns online—as well as gorgeous planters to keep your new additions happy—then safely pick up curbside. And if you’re not sure your thumb is green enough, the shop also stocks home goods such as cheeky throw pillows and hand-poured candles to liven up your space. 143 Washington St., Salem, MA 01970, oakandmoss.com.
The sheer variety of intimates from Aubade, Eberjey, Cosabella, Skin, and Hanky Panky (still the most comfy thongs around) that you'll discover at this pretty, boudoir-size boutique, discreetly located in the flat of Beacon Hill, would be enough to set it apart from the competition. It's the honest, practical, and rather sweet caretaking by proprietress Brenna Graham, though, that's truly prizewinning. If you bring in your gauziest blouses and slinkiest dresses, she'll even help you avoid a Tara Reid moment by assisting you in choosing the appropriate underpinnings. 49 River St., Boston, MA 2108, frenchdressinglingerie.com.
Your bathroom never had it so good. Every inch of Waterworks is dedicated to the senses, and every item—each perfectly placed and folded—is luxury incarnate. The sweet aroma of French soaps welcomes you first. Then come bath towels so soft, you'll think you're back in the womb. Next up: gleaming shower fixtures, faucets, tiles, and tubs—in as many classic styles as newfangled modern designs. The staff is informed and charming, and if you absolutely must have those frosted glass tiles by the weekend, many of the items are available for delivery within eight days of the date of purchase. 103 Newbury St., Boston, MA waterworks.com/.
Like early 19th-century vintage and all the glamor it entails, the Bristol Lounge is back. Actually, like the classic pearls and impeccably cut suits you'll find around its tables, the Bristol never really went away. But after losing this category last year to the Harvest, the Four Seasons' lounge and its burger have reclaimed their places in our hearts, and the reason why is simple: sweet beef that fills your mouth with so much flavor it's almost surreal. Toppings—from the thick and fruity slice of ripe tomato the specialty mustards and perfectly toasted bun—are first rate. Service is prompt and polite, and the setting is pure suave sophistication. Four Seasons Hotel, 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA fourseasons.com/boston/dining/the_bristol_lounge/.
With comfort food topping the cravings charts these days, it's no wonder that getting a table at Bartley's has become an Olympic sport. The crowds come for the addictive handcut fries (regular or sweet potato), extra-thick mocha frappes (spoon required), and fun, pretense-free atmosphere. But most of the mob is here for the burgers, each meaty special dolled up according to the politico or celeb it's named after. (The Mike Tyson is a turkey burger; the Ted Kennedy, "a plump, liberal amount of burger.") The fresh-ground sirloin comes perfectly grilled, its center tender, deeply flavored, and juicier with every bite. 1246 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA mrbartley.com/.
The three-course prix-fixe menu is everything brunch should be: a selection of sweet and savory breakfast and lunch dishes and an assortment of chilled seafood (Wellfleet oysters, countneck clams, shrimp) with a Bloody Mary or mimosa to wash it down. Dine inside for a plush, low-lit and serene atmosphere or outside on the secluded patio. Start with roasted oysters with mascarpone, pancetta, and spinach; granola and fresh fruit; or a Caesar salad with—hallelujah!—white anchovies. Move on to crab cakes with perfectly poached eggs, hollandaise, and ossetra caviar; French toast with spiced apples and sausage; or a smoked-salmon sandwich on toasted French bread with tomato, red onion, and parsley-caper egg sauce. Then prepare to nap away the afternoon. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA .
An enclave of high-wattage style in a region otherwise devoted to Talbots, Crossing Main covers all the bases. Racks of Tolonen tulle-covered miniskirts and Tracy Reese paisley tops do double duty as both edgy and pretty, Kay Unger and Laundry shifts play to the prim and sweet set, and Nanette Lepore floral pants and Vanessa Fox cocktail dresses have sophisticated all wrapped up. Of course, this is still Hingham, so the boutique gives ample space to neopreppy rants like embroidered cords in—what else—bright pink and green. 5 Main St., Hingham, MA crossingmain.com/.
If the rustic-meets-modern, exposed-brick décor doesn't get you, there's always the savory Gorgonzola-stuffed olives. If those don't do the trick, a bite of chef Billy Brandolini's citrus-poached halibut with squash blossoms just might. Still not feeling amorous? Trade a few spoonfuls of the sweet, crackly banana brûlée. And if even that doesn't cut it, the superb wine list will finish the job, leaving you head over heels for the team that opened this chic new Newburyport boîte (if not for the person sitting across the table). 38 State St., Newburyport, MA 1950, ceiakitchenbar.com.
Leave it to the ever-professional Ellen Bartlett to create a confection as sweet—and original—as your wedding. Bartlett knows the pain suffered by so many wedding guests forced to eat flavorless wedding cakes the texture of Styrofoam. Her antidote: fresh, delectable cakes in any shape you can dream up. Maybe it's a Frangelico-soaked hazelnut dacquoise with mocha buttercream—in the shape of a sailboat. Or a deep chocolate framboise with fresh raspberries, festooned with delicate fondant flowers. You want it, odds are she can make it—and make you happy ever after. 248 Cypress St., Brookline, MA cakestoremember.biz/.
More than 20 years ago, Holly Safford decided that celebrations deserved better than the substandard fare served by many caterers. That may have been a revolutionary notion at the time, but these days, brides and grooms expect spectacular food for their spectacular Big Days—and Safford delivers. With executive chef Robert Smith and a smart, hard-working staff behind her, Safford provides impeccable service and foods that go far beyond formula menus—picholine olives stuffed with sweet sausage and goat cheese, chocolate profiteroles with caramel chip ice cream, and practically anything else a couple might desire. 70 Reservoir Park Dr., Rockland, MA thecateredaffair.com/.
Emma's may have moved from Huron Avenue to Kendall Square, but it still boats the same great thin-crust pizza and 21 imaginative toppings, including smoked chicken, dried cranberries, calamata olives, and roasted sweet potatoes (as well as standbys such as sausage, onions, and pepperoni). The service is also friendly and attentive. And while it still isn't exactly spacious, the new location near the Kendall Square Cinema is big enough to fit 10 tables; the waiting area has the original counter from the old Huron Avenue store, a nice touch. 40 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA emmaspizza.com.
Loyal sidekicking is hard work. So is giving a cat a bath (something we've learned the hard way). Make life a little easier for both you and your furry, filthy pal with a visit to 'sPoochies, where the gentle techs will get even the most hygiene-averse animal into show-ring shape: clipping nails, cleaning ears, decrusting fur, trimming those unsightly under-chin spots where drool goes to die. A generous selection of sweet-smelling grooming products provides the necessary tools for ambitious owners to try again at home, if they must. 400 Tremont St., Boston, MA .
Let the gourmets pile on their trendy precious toppings; the best serious classic pizza is the kind that gets the basics right. This barely decorated brick storefront in Jamaica Plain has its thin, simple pizzas down to a science: They're doused with herbed olive oil and scattered with cornmeal, then slathered in a tomato sauce that's tangy and slightly smoky. The crowning mozzarella starts out blistering hot, then cools to a smooth, gooey sweetness. If you really want it, you can get a version decked out with spicy sausage and such, but with flavor as pure as this, why bother? 8 Perkins St., Jamaica Plain, MA oggigourmet.com.
Set your GPS: Chef Ernie Campbell’s beloved Jamaica Mi Hungry truck (pictured) is now permanently parked at an Allston lot, outside the address where a second restaurant is set to open this fall. (There’s already a brick-and-mortar joint in Jamaica Plain.) Speed by to snag signature, heat-seeking jerk chicken, hearty and comforting goat curry, or stellar sides like sweet plantains from Campbell, whose hardly idle hands are also busy managing kitchen operations for CommonTable, a citywide initiative to feed vulnerable communities during the pandemic. 182 Western Ave., Allston, MA 02134, jamaicamihungry.com.