15 New Full-Service Boston Restaurants We Loved in 2022
For date nights, long meals in cozy dining rooms, and multi-course feasts, these are the new full-service restaurants that wowed us in 2022. (Plus, 17 notable expansions and revamps.)
What a good year for eating. 2022 took us around the globe with new restaurants hyper-focused on regional cuisines previously underrepresented in Boston: We’ve now got a Yemeni restaurant in Kenmore Square, Yunnan cuisine (from southwestern China) in the South End, and an offshoot of Neapolitan pizza not previously available here. Greater Boston’s already impressive Peruvian and Thai scenes got even better, and we saw unique additions to the Japanese, Irish, and Sichuan Chinese scenes, too. And, because Boston loves seafood and Italian food, we got lots more of those.
This is part one of our year-end reminiscing about our favorite new openings of 2022; here, we focus on the sit-down restaurants—some casual (but with waiter service), some fine-dining, all delicious.
This Kenmore Square spot is one of the only Yemeni restaurants in the region, and it happily fills that niche with roasted meats, warming stews, and absolutely enormous pieces of fresh bread. Our top pick is the lamb haneeth, slow-roasted and spiced lamb served with rice, which is garnished with fried onions. Start with lentil soup—livened up with a squeeze of lemon—and end with a glass of adani tea, a milky tea spiced with wintery flavors like cloves and cardamom.
468 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston, 857-250-2943, babalyemenboston.com.
Call it a clichéd order, but we fell in love with a dinner of French onion soup, steak frites, and a nice glass of red. It was a perfect combination on that recent December evening with Greater Boston’s first bit of real snowfall. Batifol, from the Petit Robert Bistro team, opened in Kendall Square this fall, and it serves the kind of French food Cambridge needs. You’ll find the classics, sure, but you’ll also find cashew-crusted red perch in a Thai-style red curry or fried cauliflower with capers and saffron aioli—and you’ll eat it all in a trendy, comfortable space with Parisian subway vibes.
291 Third St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-945-0345, batifolcambridge.com.
This tiny Thai restaurant and market only has a few tables, but settle in for a meal and you’ll be happy you did. The staff is extraordinarily friendly, and you’ll want to take some time to browse the market shelves while you wait for your food. (Anything from Thai cutlery to packaged noodles to dried herbs might be there.) We love the northern Thai dishes on the menu—ua lao (sausage) and khao soi—and the peanutty spicy satay noodles are a fun pick, too. Or just go for whatever’s on special that day; there’s always something exciting.
161 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-316-0059, boonnoonmarket.com.
Bosso Ramen Tavern
One chilly, rainy Tuesday night this fall, we were delighted to find Bosso jam-packed and lively. This restaurant is just plain fun. And the menu isn’t limited to ramen, despite the name (although the ramen is very good and worth ordering!): There’s also sushi (big pieces closer in style to temaki than neatly wrapped maki), creative small plates with a seafood focus, sake-based cocktails, and more.
24 Holyoke St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 857-999-6867, bossoramentavern.com.
This sprawling modern Irish restaurant in City Hall’s shadow features everything you’d want from an Irish pub: live music, plenty of Guinness, and hearty portions of entrees like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie. But chef and partner Aidan McGee, whose resumé includes stints at Michelin-starred restaurants in Great Britain, is kicking things up a notch with dishes like roast pork for two and an elegant seafood chowder. Don’t miss the Sunday roast.
2 Center Plz., Downtown Boston, 857-317-2695, thedublinerboston.com.
Faccia a Faccia
The latest bit of magic from restaurateurs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette is Faccia a Faccia—née Faccia Brutta but quickly changed due to a challenge from a similarly named amaro brand in New York. The Newbury Street restaurant highlights that vague genre of “coastal Italian” that tends to include lots of seafood. (Or, as our critic Jolyon Helterman put it in a September review, the place has a “sprawling Italian-ish menu with … Mediterranean flair (harissa, saffron, etc.)” And, as he notes, Faccia Brutta usually nails it, with “terrific” food and “polished” recipes. Try the ruby red prawn crudo or grilled lobster with clams and chili butter.
278 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, 857-991-1080, facciaafacciaboston.com.
The Celeste team can do no wrong, and their second local restaurant—third if you count Vermont as local—is another winner. (Esquire agrees.) This hip, hospitable Cambridge spot, tucked away in quiet Huron Village, features Peruvian dishes from all over the country—whether you’re looking for an Amazonian fish dish or a northern rice and duck combo. And there’s plenty of pisco to go around.
221 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-823-1595, laroyalcambridge.com.
Head to the pint-sized former KO Pies space in Southie for an impeccable five-course tasting menu of what the Lenox Sophia team simply describes as “modern American fare.” That might mean plump king trumpets brought into another plane of existence with honey fermented garlic, elderflower miso, and dried plum. Or perhaps it means a homey pile of tagliatelle smothered in a mountain of grated truffles. Whatever it means, bring your own wine: Lenox Sophia has an extraordinarily-rare-for-Boston BYOB license.
87 A St., South Boston, 617-597-2170, lenoxsophia.com.
Chef Tao Liu hails from Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province and brings a flavor-packed taste of Sichuan cuisine to this tiny Allston space. The restaurant does plenty of takeout and delivery, but you’ll want to dine in to enjoy the showstopper fresh: the smoky tea-flavored half duck. The Tao Tao noodles—minced pork, chickpeas, and chili sauce—are another must-try.
1153 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, Boston, 617-207-2781, mylittletao.com.
Boston loves seafood, and Boston loves Italian food, so why not a new seafood restaurant from the team behind an Italian favorite? The Giulia folks opened Moëca right around the corner this year, aimed at highlighting seasonal, sustainable seafood dishes influenced by a variety of cuisines around the globe (not just Italian). Be sure to save room for pastry chef Renae Connolly’s always-amazing desserts.
1 Shepard St., Cambridge, 617-945-0040, moecarestaurant.com.
Speaking of seafood: Enter Pescador. This is the second of three restaurants to open in Kenmore Square from New York’s Blue Ribbon Restaurants group, and it’s a new concept for the company, featuring a seafood-focused menu drawing inspiration from coastal cuisines in Central and Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and beyond. Our early favorites are the head-on shrimp with Baja butter and the corn “ribs”—and don’t miss the extensive selection of agave spirits.
498 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston, 617-532-1050, pescadorkenmore.com.
From SRV’s Michael Lombardi comes a cozy, date-night, pizza-and-wine spot in Central Square, featuring a pizza genre new to Boston: canotto-style. It’s like Neapolitan, but with an extra-puffy crust, and Lombardi embellishes it with creative topping combos, like mushrooms with taleggio and leek kimchi. Pair it with a big glass of natural wine. Try the garlic bread and arancini, too.
425 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-7629, sicarapizza.com.
There’s lots to enjoy at this comfortable new Thai restaurant and bar in Brighton’s Oak Square (located in the former Twelve Hours space). Start with the crab fried rice and the tum tard, grilled pork with herb sauce, papaya salad, and sticky rice.
559 Washington St., Brighton, Boston, 617-208-8184, toasttab.com/thonglor.
Neighborhood vibes, an intimate space, hearty bowls of pasta: What could be better? Try to reserve a spot at the two-seat chef’s counter for a front-row view of the kitchen, and start with the littleneck clams with guanciale, Calabrian chili, garlic, and basil (and plenty of bread for dipping into the remaining broth)—it’s one of our favorite dishes of the year. Next: any pasta. You can’t go wrong.
669 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, 617-524-9217, toninojp.com.
We can’t get enough of this South End newcomer, one of Boston’s only tastes of Yunnan (or Dian) cuisine from China’s southwest. Must-tries include the crispy Dali fried pea jelly, wood ear mushroom salad, mint beef, and sticky rice pancakes with condensed milk. The food here is quite unlike most of the regional Chinese cuisines that Boston’s more familiar with, and you’re going to want to get to know it.
1721B Washington St., South End, Boston, 617-936-4123, yunnankitchensouthend.com.
Notable Expansions and Revamps
These full-service stunners aren’t complete newcomers; they merely expanded or changed in 2022. But they’re worth a mention—and definitely worth a visit.
- Barcelona Wine Bar: This growing national chain has quite a hold on Boston, with long-running Brookline and South End locations always drawing crowds. This year, an already-bustling Harvard Square location joined the mix.
- Blue Ribbon Sushi: This is step one of New York-based Blue Ribbon Restaurants’ Kenmore Square takeover (followed by Pescador; see above). Try the scallops with miso butter and the crispy rice with spicy tuna.
- Gopchang Story: Boston got a location of this popular South Korea-based chain this year; the menu showcases offal in a variety of cooking styles, such as marinated and grilled, or in a soft tofu stew.
- The Haven: Jamaica Plain’s favorite Scottish restaurant and bar moved to a new, much bigger JP space this year, and it’s still awesome—and now there’s a lot more room for events, like whisky tastings and comedy shows.
- Himalayan Kitchen: This casual Union Square staple for momo and more renovated its small dine-in area this year—and added booze. Hard mango lassi? Sign us up.
- Juliet: Another Union Square favorite! Juliet, a French-ish neighborhood spot with a particular love of Nice, moved one door down into a bigger space that better encompasses its full vision and delightful, ever-changing prix fixe menus.
- Laughing Monk Cafe: This Japanese and Thai restaurant with Mission Hill and Wellesley locations expanded to the tiny former S&I Thai space in Allston, where it’s focusing exclusively on the fiery, herby cuisine from Thailand’s Isan region.
- Little Whale Oyster Bar: Restaurateur Michael Serpa closed his Newbury Street bistro Grand Tour and replaced it with a New England seafood spot, although some Grand Tour favorites—including, thankfully, the steak frites—remain on the menu.
- Mecha Noodle Bar: This small Connecticut chain dropped not one but two locations in Greater Boston this year (Fort Point and Brookline) and draws inspiration from street foods and comfort foods around Asia. Plus, there’s boozy boba.
- Mooo: Silly name—and we didn’t even include the four periods after the three Os, as it’s officially styled—but excellent steakhouse. The upscale Beacon Hill spot added locations in the Seaport District and Burlington this year.
- Pasta Beach: This Waterfront Italian spot with two Rhode Island siblings finally reopened in 2022 after a 2019 fire, boasting a pretty snazzy redesign and a revamped menu that includes pinsa, a Roman-style pizza.
- PlantPub: Beer and comfort food in a massive space right by Fenway Park—and it’s all vegan. PlantPub expanded from its tiny Cambridge digs to the old Fenway BeerWorks space this year.
- Ramsay’s Kitchen: Restaurateur and television personality Gordon Ramsay opened his first Boston restaurant early in 2022, bringing his well-known beef Wellington and more to the Mandarin Oriental.
- Shy Bird: The homey rotisserie chicken spot, sibling to Watertown’s Branch Line, expanded from Kendall Square to South Boston’s bustling Iron Works development.
- SubRosa at Wink & Nod: Surprise! The South End cocktail bar and “culinary incubator” reopened this fall for the first time since March 2020. Chef Louis DiBiccari, who formerly owned Tavern Road and Create, is in the kitchen with his Mediterranean- and Middle Eastern-inspired pop-up SubRosa.
- Tenderoni’s: Tiffani Faison opened a new restaurant in her former Tiger Mama space—a full-blown version of the Tenderoni’s pizza joint she operates at the food hall High Street Place. There’s “big disco energy” and throwback roller-rink vibes.
- Yellow Door Taqueria: This high-energy taqueria and bar became a trio in 2022, adding a Mission Hill location as its third outpost.