Top New Restaurants in Boston 2017: The List
THE EURO ESCAPE
17. Frenchie Wine Bistro
560 Tremont St., Boston, 857-233-5941, frenchieboston.com.
Every neighborhood in Paris has a Frenchie: an overachiever all-day café that will serve you beyond-solid renditions of a dozen or so classics. With thoughtfully chosen by-the-glass wines. Even if you show up famished at 3 p.m. Highlights of the menu at this cozy subterranean gem include escargot toast on grilled country bread lavished with garlicky snail butter, the requisite steak frites, and generously portioned small-plate takes on boeuf bourguignon and “drumstick coq au vin.” Here’s hoping the neo-French craze ushers in like-minded spots in every Greater Boston arrondissement. (Until then, the South End’s the lucky one.)
THE CUT-ABOVE COUNTER
16. Il Pesce
Prudential Center, Boston, 617-807-7300, eataly.com/boston.
The power of unfussy food is alive and well at this Mario Batali–Barbara Lynch seafood counter nestled inside Eataly Boston. Here, the two culinary pros (along with the complex’s executive chef, Jason Neve) abide by the ethos that the best thing you can do with super-fresh New England catch is, well, not too much. The result is basic in the best way possible—perfectly golden fritto misto, sea scallop crudo dressed with little more than peppery olive oil and fresh apricot, and al dente tagliatelle ribbons swimming alongside cubes of sustainably caught bluefin tuna.
15. Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
270 Third St., Cambridge, 617-945-0907, sumiaohunan.com.
Remember when Sichuan cuisine broke through the Hub’s largely Cantonese-American monotony, one numbing-hot bowl of mapo tofu at a time? Well, Kendall Square’s Sumiao is now blazing a trail of its own, this one marked by the distinctively Hunan mash-up of fermentation, heat, vinegar, and wok hei smoke. It might be the only local outpost where you can tuck into regional gems like thin-sliced pork belly spiked with fresh green chilies; translucent sticky-rice shumai seasoned with shiitakes and cracklings; and wrinkly garlicky-sauced green beans and purple eggplant—and it is certainly the only place to do so from a spacious patio or an electric-blue barstool.
NEW-GUARD NORTH END
14. North Square Oyster
5 North Sq., Boston, 617-829-4975, northsquareoyster.com.
With this modern, seafood-focused destination, second-generation North End restaurateur Nick Frattaroli and executive chef Douglas Rodrigues (a Clio and Liquid Art House alum) are bringing something fresh to the area’s pasta-packed streets. Rodrigues’s raw selections, in particular, typify his fine-dining background: think salmon crudo slicked with Chinese hot mustard and adorned with raspberries, and tuna poke dusted with foie gras powder. He’s even given neighborhood classics like Bolognese an upgrade—here, it’s beefed up with oxtail and parsnip and topped with sweet, succulent lobster.
DOUGH WITH A SHOW
13. Prairie Fire
242 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-396-8199, prairiefirebrookline.com.
Pizza-making…as dinner theater? It’s a reality at this Brookline hot spot, where pizzaiolos toss pies loaded with charred greens and fennel sausage into the wood-fired oven that takes center stage behind the bustling bar. But the real star at Prairie Fire—the latest from the team behind Milton’s acclaimed Steel & Rye—is the tightly edited list of intricate house-made pastas: strands of earthy spinach bigoli tossed with duck ragu and an egg yolk; lemon gemelli laced with zucchini, arugula pesto, and smoked potatoes. The candlelit tables and lively neighborhood vibe, meanwhile, are the perfect formula for a night out on the town with the kiddos, a blind date, or any occasion in between.
243 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-945-7448, moonarestaurant.com.
Fragrant orange-blossom water. Smoky-hot harissa. Intensely citrusy preserved lemons. At Mohamad El Zein and Radouan Ouassaidi’s Inman Square mezze spot, everything on the menu revolves around the bold flavors of the Arabic pantry, or mouneh. In collaboration with chef Rory Lee, the duo, who hail from Lebanon and Morocco, respectively, apply the region’s red-hot-right-now culinary color palette in transportive ways. Highlights include sweet-savory phyllo-wrapped chicken bastilla (an Arabic chicken pie of sorts); taklia potatoes swimming in a rich lemon-garlic sauce; and charred grape leaves that get a zing from the tart currants hidden inside.
THE LOCAL KNOCKOUT
782 Tremont St., Boston, 617-936-3490, midaboston.com.
Neighborhood restaurants are a funny genre, beloved as much for their consistency, price point, and proximity as their culinary ambition. Then there are the next-level down-the-blockers that elevate the game so high they make other enclaves envious. Case in point: Mida, the cozy South End overachiever where everything is better than it needs to be. There’s the four-star service and wine-geek-friendly bottle list, the all-you-can-eat-pasta Mondays, and, of course, owner Douglass Williams’s finesse with Italian-ish comfort food, from striped-bass crudo with olives and crispy potato to garlic-butter-slathered focaccia dreamy enough to, you know, troll your average Back Bay resident.
THE TECHNICOLOR TRIP
505 Washington St., Boston, 617-266-0102, rukarestobar.com
This Peruvian-Japanese spot in the Godfrey Hotel boasts bright, photogenic flourishes all around. In the rainbow-hued, Incan-fantasyland-themed dining room. In the splashy cocktail program with accoutrements like smoldering cedar rose garnishes and alligator drink pitchers. And, of course, in the stacked menu of showoff-y dishes such as Wagyu maki served over flames, octopus lomo saltado plated to resemble a mountain, and long-bone short rib garnished with waves of watermelon radishes. Fortunately, the Latin-accented sushi rolls, bold anticuchos, or skewers, and dramatic desserts (try the fish-shaped waffle with banana brulée, prickly pear sorbet, and spicy peanut brittle) taste just as good as they look on camera. Not that we’d expect anything less from this team, which is also behind the equally over-the-top Yvonne’s.