Boston Restaurants

In a city synonymous with tradition, Boston chefs have spent recent years rewriting culinary history. The stuffy, wood-paneled formality is gone; the endless renditions of chowdah, lobster, and cod have retired; and the assumption that true foodies better hop the next Amtrak to New York is also—thankfully—a thing of the past.

In their place, a crop of young chefs has ascended, opening small, upscale neighborhood spots that use local New England ingredients to delicious effect. Traditional eats can still be found (Durgin-Park remains the best place to get baked beans), but many diners now gravitate toward innovative food in understated environs. Whether you're looking for casual French, down-home Southern cooking, some of the best sushi in the country, or Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Boston restaurants are ready to deliver. Eclectic Japanese spot o ya and iconic French restaurant L'Espalier have garnered widespread attention, while a coterie of star chefs like Barbara Lynch, Lydia Shire, and Ken Oringer have built mini-empires and thrust the city to the forefront of the national dining scene.

The fish and shellfish brought in from nearby shores continue to inform the regional cuisine, along with locally grown fruits and vegetables, handmade cheeses, and humanely raised heritage game and meats. But don't expect boiled lobsters and baked apple pie. Today’s chefs, while showcasing New England’s bounty, might offer you lobster cassoulet with black truffles, bacon-clam pizza from a wood-burning oven, and a tomato herb salad harvested from the restaurant’s rooftop garden. In many ways, though, Boston remains solidly skeptical of trends. To wit: the cupcake craze and food truck trend hit here later than other cities; the Hawaii-inspired poke movement has only recently arrived. And over in the university culture of Cambridge, places like the Harvest and Oleana espoused the locavore and slow-food movements before they became buzzwords.

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  • 1. Antico Forno

    $$ | North End | Italian

    Many of the menu choices here come from the eponymous wood-burning brick oven, which turns out surprisingly delicate pizzas simply topped with...Read More

  • 2. Caffe Vittoria

    $ | North End | Italian

    Caffe Vittoria is rightfully known as Boston's most traditional Italian café. Gleaming brass, marble tabletops, and one of the city's best selections...Read More

  • 3. Davio's

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Italian

    Comfy armchairs and a grand, high-ceilinged dining room give diners a heightened sense of self-importance, beginning with lunch when the city...Read More

  • 4. Posto

    $$ | Italian

    A central wood-burning oven at this Davis Square spot churns out over a dozen varieties of excellent tomato or "white" bubble-crusted pies ...Read More

  • 5. Babbo Pizzeria

    $ | Downtown | Italian

    With his signature ponytail and orange clogs, celebrity chef Mario Batali is the name behind this bountiful pizzeria with three bars and a 1...Read More

  • 6. Bella Luna & The Milky Way

    $$ | Jamaica Plain | Italian

    Tucked away in The Brewery Complex, home to myriad small businesses, including Samuel Adams beer, this restaurant-cum-nightclub offers sci-fi...Read More

  • 7. Bova's Bakery

    $ | North End | Italian

    The allure of Bova's Bakery, a neighborhood institution, lies not only in its takeaway Italian breads, calzones, and pastries, but also in its...Read More

  • 8. Bricco

    $$$$ | North End | Italian

    A sophisticated but unpretentious enclave of nouveau Italian, Bricco has carved out quite a following. And no wonder: the handmade pastas alone...Read More

  • 9. Centre Street Café

    $$ | Jamaica Plain | Italian

    Nearby farms provide the bulk of the ingredients for simple yet sublime appetizers, homemade pastas, and main dishes at this laid-back, 34-seat...Read More

  • 10. Mamma Maria

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Don't let the clichéd name fool you: Mamma Maria is far from a typical red-sauce joint. From the handmade pappardelle layered with braised rabbit...Read More

  • 11. Prezza

    $$$$ | North End | Italian

    Chef Anthony Caturano pays homage to his Italian grandmother at this warm, convivial eatery by naming it after the tiny Abruzzese village where...Read More

  • 12. Regina Pizzeria

    $$ | North End | Italian

    This North End institution owned by the Polcari family has been doing what it does best since 1926—creating thin-crusted, brick-oven-charred...Read More

  • 13. Ristorante Euno

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Unassuming and friendly, Euno is the North End's culinary mouse that roars, hitting just the right notes from the starter bowls of buttery olives...Read More

  • 14. Scampo

    $$$ | Beacon Hill | Italian

    In the Liberty Hotel—the former site of the infamous Charles Street Jail—this Beacon Hill hot spot has a prison-chic vibe, complete with barred...Read More

  • 15. Sorellina

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Italian

    Set in an all-white dining room, everything about this upscale Italian spot is oversized, from its space near Copley Square to its flavor-packed...Read More

  • 16. Sportello

    $$ | Downtown | Italian

    Barbara Lynch, the queen of Boston's dining scene (see also No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, and The Butcher Shop), had the foresight to create...Read More

  • 17. Terramia Ristorante

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Nearly everything on the menu at this cozy restaurant with a honeyed glow and exposed wooden beams tastes home-cooked and authentic, from the...Read More

  • 18. Rialto

    $$$$ | Harvard Square | Italian

    The soothing sage and yolk-yellow dining room and its bar have drifted back to their Italian beginnings under the deft helm of chef-owner Jody...Read More

  • 19. Carmen

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Here's the kind of undeniably friendly, downright cute hole-in-the-wall that keeps the neighborhood real. With seating for 30, Carmen keeps...Read More

  • 20. Mare

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Anchoring an out-of-the-way corner on Richmond Street, this organic Italian seafood restaurant has stepped out of tradition and moved into nouveau...Read More

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