Even with a plethora of restaurants to choose from in Boston’s North End, Il Villaggio manages to stand out, and not just because of its prime location on Hanover Street. The glassy restaurant offers Mediterranean-leaning takes on classic Italian dishes, like a semolina gnocchi served with creamy pesto sauce. With white tablecloths on a small number of tables, Italian wine bottles placed carefully on skewed shelves and chandeliers that look like freshly trimmed branches, the homey restaurant also serves up classic Italian comfort food from its open kitchen in the back. The chefs here use fresh mozzarella and churn out generous portions of lobster ravioli, chicken parmesan andlasagna to the masses that always seem to be queuing up out front.
The Boston Wine Expo’s Grand Tasting event unites varietals from nearly 200 wineries around the world with cuisine from more than 40 local eateries during four hours of culinary harmony. Attendees can sip more than 1,000 red and white elixirs culled from the grape-producing and wild-cork-taming regions of North America, Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mediterranean. Samples from Boston-area restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sandrine’s Bistro complement each swig as vintners enlighten enophiles on current winemaking trends. Throughout the afternoon, top gastronomic maestros tread two stages during live demonstrations that divulge recipes and directions for finding the secret compartment hidden inside every wine bottle. Lifestyle exhibits and a full schedule of seminars enlighten guests on topics ranging from cheese-and-wine matching to the diversity of Italian varietals (not included with this Groupon). A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local charities.
On any given night at Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors, guests might hear staff instructors share their favorite French wines or introduce a Speyside scotch. They might also see guest sommeliers, local brewers, or winemakers discuss the production regions and flavors of their most cherished varietals. For more than 75 years, Gordon’s has been a beacon for such talented flavor enthusiasts, recruiting a team of specialized instructors that has earned the alcohol emporium the title of Massachusetts Beverage Business 2012 Retailer of the Year. These professionals have never tired of spinning out lessons—touching on wine education, beer and spirits, cooking, and wine-and-food pairings, which immerses visitors in how to successfully marry cheeses and wines without their parents getting all bent out of shape.
Yet apart from the knowledge spread therein and the discussions bubbling with poignant enthusiasm behind the shelves, Gordon’s also serves as a supplier. Its shelves abound with hundreds of wines—including kosher wines—from every continent except Antarctica, more than 500 types of craft beer, and 300 single-malt scotches.
Growing up across the street from the historical North End building where Villa Francesca now stands, Guglielmo Ranauro never guessed that he'd open a restaurant in 1976 and name it after his beloved mother. Ranauro was inspired by her traditional cooking and wanted to create a place where other people could get an authentic taste of Italy.
Today, Ranauro has handed over the family legacy to longtime manager and protégé Tomas Salmeron. Salmeron and his culinary team continue to follow those classic recipes, turning fresh-caught fruits of the sea into a daily seafood prix fixe menu. Furthermore, they transform chicken, lamb, steak, and veal into dishes you might find while strolling through a Tuscan piazza or steering a one-person submarine down a Venetian canal. The eatery’s extensive wine list, which includes 140 Italian and international varieties, earned a 2012 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Even the ambiance points diners in the direction of Italy: tin ceilings and stained-glass accents add Old-World nostalgia, and the exposed-brick walls are anchored by Romanesque archways and paintings of bustling village scenes.
Pigalle's casts a romantic spell inside the unassuming brick building, with cream and earth tones, columns, and classic white-linen table settings. Inside the soothing confines, unfold a menu, fold it into a paper crane, then unfold it again to discover a savory appetizer such as duck-liver mousse with toasted brioche, cornichons, and caper berries ($15). Experience the classic and unknown simultaneously with Chef Orfaly's adventurous entree creations, such as the shrimp scampi with house-made tomato fettucini and cherry-tomato herb-butter sauce ($25) or the crispy half duck with turnip succotash, potato puree, and sweet and sour oranges ($32). Lighten a meal with a fresh mango and avocado salad (crumbled goat cheese, grapefruit vinaigrette, and basil oil, $16), or grab the roasted sirloin, mushroom, and foie gras strudel, with red-wine sauce and creamed broccoli ($35), to become as full as a cartoon cat attached to an air hose.
For nearly 20 years, Sonie has been a staple to Boston’s fashionable Newbury Street. With enormous French doors that open up in the warmer months and a people-watching scene like no other, the popular restaurant remains one of the best places in the city to see and be seen. Sonsie is open for brunch on weekends, weekdays for lunch and daily for dinner, and attracts a young trendy crowd sporting the latest designer duds – likely from the nearby boutiques. Dinners and late-night drinks are also a staple here, with favorites that range from wood-fired pizzas and miso braised short ribs to sea scallops, roast chicken with herb jus and a classic steak au poivre. A wine cellar on the lower level of this tall, elegant, wood-lined and sunlit space holds some 200 bottles from around the world, many available by the glass.