Ask the Editor: Where to Dine with Colleagues Near Copley Square?

This local is seeking a dining spot near the Fairmont Copley Plaza, but one that's off his associates' beaten path.

Welcome to Ask the Editor, Boston magazine’s new dining advice column. Need a restaurant recommendation? Ask a pro.


Terra's skylight-topped dining room

Terra’s skylight-topped dining room. / Photo by Jim Brueckner for “Review: Terra”

Question:

I have out-of-town business associates staying at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel. Can you recommend a very good restaurant—not Sorellina—within a reasonable walking distance to Fairmont?

—C.G.

There is no shortage of restaurants nearby the Fairmont, a century-old landmark in Copley Square. In fact, I just wrote about a new Italian trattoria and pizzeria landing there in the coming days; perhaps Orá Trattorizza should go on your list for a future visit.

I say “future visit,” because, while your letter arrived in my inbox some weeks ago, your mention of the lovely, 12-year-old Sorrellina suggests you’re familiar with the ’hood. I’ll select some relative newcomers for you, then. The Back Bay is one of the most dynamic areas of Boston in terms of fast-paced change and development. And much of it is prime real estate for well-financed companies looking to gain a foothold in New England—Copley Square was the first Boston stop for both hip, healthy chains Sweetgreen and Dig Inn, for example.

Eataly Boston is also nearby, inside the Prudential Center. The food emporium is in fact part of the world’s largest Italian marketplace, starting in Turin and expanding into the U.S. via New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and here. (For the record, Mario Batali is no longer involved.) There is plenty to eat in the 45,000-square foot space, including at sit-down restaurants with menus designed by local celeb chefs Michael Schlow and Barbara Lynch. But try not to get distracted—you have business to do—and head for the staircase to Terra.

Helmed by chef de cuisine Dan Bazzinotti, the third-floor restaurant menu is full of wood-fired, “elegant minimalism,” as Boston magazine critic Jolyon Helterman said. Think skewers of grilled stone fruit with basil pesto and ricotta salata; veal and pork meatballs with smoked tomato sauce; fire-roasted peperonata crostini; and herb-marinated lamb leg with salsa verde. It’s a great place to share family-sized plates, but there are entrée-like pastas and proteins as well. Plus, a really cool beer program, excellent wines, and herbaceous cocktails. (Prudential Center, Boston, 617-807-7307, eataly.com)

Mooncusser Fish House is another third-floor oasis, located just over a quarter mile from the Fairmont. The ascendent dining room—it’s separated from a casual takeout window and the Moon Bar by a kitchen—is the latest from a trio of Metrowest power players. Vincent Vela, Ian Calhoun, and chef Carolyn Johnson of Concord’s 80 Thoreau have given Boston an upscale seafood spot that plays on New England fish house familiarities with quality sourcing and refined subtlety. Nice view of Stuart Street below, with lovely jazz on the stereo during my last visit. (304 Stuart St., Boston, 617-917-5193, mooncusserfishhouse.com)

Speaking of New England fish, I would be remiss not to suggest Saltie Girl to someone seeking something new to eat in Copley Square, though not certain the vibe fits your business dining needs. The all-day raw bar is also a reliable spot for casual, but classy snacks like sardines on toast with torched boucheron. This gem from Sidell Hospitality Group doesn’t take reservations, but we can imagine an out-of-town business associate being impressed with your ability to snag a couple bar stools for some pre- or post-dinner networking. (281 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-267-0691, saltiegirl.com)

Select Oyster Bar is the place to make a reservation for fresh and creative crudo, Mediterranean-inflected mains, and smartly selected wines from chef-owner Michael Serpa, and the ambiance of the lively, but relaxed, off-Newbury brownstone makes me want to stay in the Back Bay all the time. (50 Gloucester St., Boston, 857-239-8064, selectboston.com)

Here’s to showing your associates a nice time next time they’re in Boston—and here’s hoping they’re up for seafood.