Five Things You Need to Eat, Drink, and Do This Weekend in Boston

Picnic-ready takes on a traditional North End feast, refreshing canned cocktails, and more.


Admittedly, and especially if you’re now working primarily from your kitchen table, days tend to blur together a bit more than they used to lately. But there’s still a certain kind of exhale that comes with the arrival of the weekend—and though Boston’s restaurant scene is certainly doing things differently during the pandemic, there are still fun experiences, flavorful new menus, and other options out there to fill your now-lean social calendar. You just have to know where to look! So here are five dining ideas to help you eat, drink, and be merry—or at the very least, give you an excuse to get out of the house.

Best of Boston 2020 winner Jamaica Mi Hungry is featured in the Boston Black Restaurant Month initiative. / Photo by Michelle Schapiro

Take part in Boston Black Restaurant Month

At least while the weather’s good, all those populated restaurant patios around town might lead you to think that everything is fine in the dining world. It’s not. Restaurants are struggling big-time in the COVID-19 era, and Black-owned restaurants have been made particularly vulnerable, say the leaders behind the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition. To help, the coalition has launched Boston Black Restaurant Month, an August-long initiative encouraging folks to dine at exciting options around town—and in the process, discover some new favorites to frequent going forward. (The coalition also has plans to launch a few associated beer gardens around town.) Among those restaurants highlighted by the effort are Blue Nile, Jamaica Mi Hungry and M&M’s BBQ, all of which just earned Best of Boston awards; Mida in the South End, whose chef-owner Douglass Williams was named one of the country’s best by Food & Wine this year; and Dorchester’s 50Kitchen, whose chef-owner Anthony Caldwell we recently profiled for his inspiring backstory and determination to persevere during a pandemic. Find more info on Boston Black Restaurant Month here, then check out more in-depth details on some excellent Black-owned restaurants in the city and suburbs.

A North End Feast To-Go. / Photo courtesy Ristorante Lucia

Take a “North End Feast To-Go” from Ristorante Lucia

During a normal Boston summer, North End streets would be packed with a series of weekend feasts celebrating the neighborhood’s Italian-American culture—including the most famous event, St. Anthony’s Feast, which was cancelled for the first time in its 100-plus-year history. It may not be quite the same as hanging with your best paisanos in the thick of the fun, but now you can plan your own socially-distanced, picnic-style version with a “North End Feast To-Go” package from Ristorante Lucia. To coincide with the traditional dates of each feast, the Italian eatery is offering $30 kits with some of the classic foods found at each event: Saturday, August 8 through Friday, August 14, for instance, will honor the St. Agrippina Feast with an assortment that includes pizza; manicotti with spinach and cheese; sausage, onion, and pepper sliders; and souvenirs like an Italian flag. Plus, $5 from every sale benefits the organization behind the respective event—in this case, the St. Agrippina Di Mineo Society.

415 Hanover St., 617-367-2353, luciab.st.

Piattini gelato to-go. / Photo courtesy Piattini

Snatch up Italian “hoodsie”-style cups from Piattini

Childhood summers were always made sweeter by Hoodsie Cups, those single-serve ice cream delights that were, for reasons still unknown to mankind, made inordinately charming by the mere presence of a wooden stick. (You know it’s true.) Now Back Bay Italian restaurant Piattini is taking a cue from those cups by offering their Italian iteration: takeout gelato and sorbetto in flavors like basil lavender, olive oil, and biscotti dough—served in a nostalgia-evoking container with wooden spoon (squeal!) included.

226 Newbury St., 617-536-2020, piattini.com.

Amaro Spritz from Bully Boy Distillers. / Photo provided

Drink down the first canned cocktail from Bully Boy Distillers

By now, you’ve probably been using Bully Boy Distillers’s Boston-made bottles of rum, whiskey, gin, and vodka to whip up cocktails for virtual happy hours. (If not, your home bar needs an upgrade.) This week, though, the spirit maker released its very first canned cocktail—ideal for the era of backyard hangouts and front-stoop socializing. The Amaro Spritz is a citrus-forward, bubbly taste-trip to the Amalfi Coast, whether sipped from the can or poured over ice. Four-packs are available at retailers like the Best of Boston-winning wine shop Urban Grape, or you can snag them at Bully Boy’s outdoor cocktail garden (where boozy popsicles are among the cool treats on our current list of must-try Hot Plates to try around town).

35 Cedric St., Roxbury, 617-442-6000, bullyboydistillers.com

Book a quarantine-pod dinner and cooking class at Shiso Kitchen

Unless your name rhymes with “Reyoncé,” you probably don’t have the pull to buy out an entire restaurant for a private dinner on a (relatively affordable) whim. Well, take note: Somerville’s Shiso Kitchen has made a COVID-era pivot with its format, reopening exclusively for private cooking class-accompanied dinners. Parties of 4-8 people get the full run of the place (at $99 per person), and can choose from about 20 themed experiences and menus: “Basque Dinner Party,” “Thai Style Favorites,” “New Orleans Creole Cooking,” and “Rustic American Vegetarian Supper” are just a few of the globe-spanning options. All are a showcase for chef-owner Jess Roy’s myriad talents in the kitchen, and a chance for groups of single ladies, couples on double-dates, or families who desperately need a dinner out to have a worry-free private meal—while learning some new knife skills in the process.

374 Washington St., Somerville, 617-999-9971, shisokitchen.com.