Ask the Editor: Graduation Day Lunch with Great Ambiance in Boston

This family is looking for a special place to spend the afternoon celebrating with a feast of Italian or Mediterranean cuisine.

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

An airy environment and live-fire cooking are the elemental draws of Terra, a top-floor restaurant at Eataly Boston. / Photo by Jim Brueckner


My son is graduating from Northeastern University in May and I am trying to find an excellent Italian or Mediterranean restaurant with excellent food and an unusual ambiance/décor in Boston for a late lunch on Friday, May 3.


Congratulations to your son—and to your entire family. Graduating college is certainly something to celebrate, and there are plenty of places to do that over a leisurely lunch with high-quality food and hospitality in Boston.

Though Northeastern University hosts its graduation at TD Garden this year, the first suggestion that comes to my mind is not too far from the school itself: Terra is the third-floor restaurant at Eataly Boston, located at the Prudential Center. Its skylit, plant-filled dining room definitely checks the box for unusual décor; and the Italian-influenced menu is built around a wood-burning Italian grill, which also adds to the ambiance. At the No. 19 Best Restaurant in Boston, chef Dan Bazzinotti and his team offer seasonal, rustic cuisine, like herb-marinated lamb skewers with shaved Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, and pistachios; and house-made rabbit agnolotti (filled pasta). Terra takes reservations and serves lunch daily until 3 p.m.—note that on Fridays, though, it closes down before dinner begins at 5 p.m. (800 Boylston St., Prudential Center, Back Bay, Boston, 617-807-7307,

Select Oyster Bar is another option not too far from NEU (and it’s No. 18 on our Best Restaurants list). Tucked into a brownstone on a side-street off of Newbury, Select has a seafood-focused menu with Mediterranean influences. It’s offered all day on Fridays (and reservations are available), with dishes like blue crab salad with whipped avocado, pickled fennel, and aleppo pepper; and Gloucester swordfish with rose harissa and crispy chickpeas. The small, chic dining room is cool but comfortable, with irreverent art hanging on the exposed-brick walls, and a hidden terrace out back for open-air dining. (50 Gloucester St., Back Bay, Boston, 857-239-8064,

Just a short walk from the TD Garden is Boston’s version of Little Italy, home to literally hundreds of Italian restaurants. One of our absolute favorite North End restaurants is Carmelina’s, where chef Damien DiPaola reimagines family recipes with bold, modern flavors, like a Roman-style arrabbiata sauce for potatoes and fresh ahi tuna; creative pastas; and pistachio-crusted roasted market fish with citrus sauce. Here’s hoping your May lunch date will be prime weather for the retractable walls to be open overlooking Hanover Street, but the open kitchen nevertheless lends itself to an engaging atmosphere inside. The compact dining room takes reservations, and opens daily at noon. (307 Hanover St., North End, Boston, 617-742-0020,

Alcove is a new restaurant positioned right across the street from the TD Garden, overlooking the Zakim and Charlestown bridges. Hopefully the highly anticipated, harborside patio will be open by early May, but the ambiance inside of cool blues, grays, and earth tones and textural wood and metals is also quite relaxing. Wherever you sit, chef Maxime Fantome’s cooking is inspired by places where the sea meets farmland—expect house-made pasta like squid ink creste di gallo (shaped like a “rooster’s crest”); daily crudo and raw bar selections; grilled meats; and expertly roasted vegetables. Lunch is served until 2:30 p.m., and reservations are available. (50 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston, 617-248-0050,

Cheers to your son and his accomplishments, and enjoy the day in Boston.