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Where to Eat: Anniversary Dinner

31 Jul

Q: My wife and I are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary soon… Can you recommend a couple of  funky and romantic restaurants where we can eat well, hear one another (vs. crowded) in Metro-Boston. My wife is a big fish person, likes Chardonnays and New American food. Let me know so I can try to get in a reservation!! Thanks –Patrick

A: Hi Patrick!  Funky, quiet, and romantic, huh? You couldn’t go wrong with Lumiere in Newton, which, while more earnest than funky, does qualify as romantic and has some great bluefish and striped bass entrées. I love Michael Leviton’s cooking for its clarity of flavor, which is a surprisingly rare thing around these parts. There’s a $33.09 three-course prix fixe Sunday-Friday, too.

In Winchester, Chris Parsons at  Catch is doing some of the best seafood around, and the soft lighting in the dining room sets a cozy mood. If not this anniversary, then next. The mussels with chorizo alone are worth a trip, and could stand up to a fruity Chardonnay.

Let’s see… I’ve covered “quiet,” “romantic,” and “seafood.” But funky? My two favorite funky/romantic spots are both in Cambridge: Cuchi Cuchi in Central Square and Upstairs on the Square in Harvard Square. The former is much more casual—really a cocktails and shared plates spot, and perhaps better for a first date than an anniversary. The latter is definitely more fine dining, even in the more casual Monday Club Bar (whose chef, by the way, counts seafood as her primary inspiration).

Il Casale takes the prize

9 Jul

Many congrats to Dante de Magistris for Il Casale’s well-deserved 3 1/2-star review in the Globe today! Restaurant critic Devra First writes:

“Il Casale’s food is wonderful, but the appeal goes deeper than that. With its menu of passed-down recipes, its crowds of locals, and its group tasting menus, the restaurant emphasizes family and community.”

I agree. Dante and his family worked on this restaurant for years, taking over the old firehouse in their hometown. It was a labor of love, and that spirit animates the kitchen and the dining room. Plus, they have the best meatballs in the city, okay, metro area.