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.
Thanks to a $50 loan from his grandfather, Chef James Messinger was able to promote his small catering business in the local classifieds, kicking off the career he dreamt about as a student at the Culinary Institute of America. The unlikely success from this small ad helped The Crazy Chefs Caterers to flourish and allowed Messinger to finance a long-desired wine-tasting odyssey through Spain, where the local cuisine quickly captivated both his tongue and imagination. Upon arrival back home, he established Loco Tapas & Wine Bar with his wife, brandishing fresh, quality ingredients from local farms to construct traditional tapas influenced by Spain's Catalonia, Basque, and La Rioja regions. The highly praised seasonal menus flaunt a rotating arsenal of small plates and elegant entrees, including a saffron-rice paella with chicken, chorizo, and mussels that the Boston Globe declared as one of "40 fantastic dishes" in the Boston area.
Hovering above Loco Tapas & Wine Bar's fully stocked bar, a chalkboard announces a handwritten roster of Spanish wines by the glass. Elsewhere in the dining area, dangling chandeliers and flickering candles set the stage for shadow-puppet tours de force upon rich crimson walls. Striking black accents, tablecloths, and furniture punctuate the sleek color scheme.
After sliding across the soft leather of a horseshoe-shaped booth or finding a spot on the sunshine-dappled patio, visitors can begin their journey through Incontro’s award-winning Italian dishes and wines. The upscale yet cozy restaurant inhabits the recently restored, 14,000-square-foot historic Brookdale Mill, with a dining room, lounge, billiards room, and private banquet rooms offering multifarious settings for romantic dinners, receptions, or celebratory meals following the end of a grueling pasta strike. Incontro's chefs prepare much more than just pasta, however: they also crisp Napoletana-style pizzas in a wood-fired oven; arrange parmesan-crusted pork tenderloin beside porcini risotto and garlicky spinach; and grill citrus-spiced salmon until the fish’s bathing suit completely burns off.
Aaron Mateychuk, head brewer at Watch City Brewing Company, makes playful twists to time-tested beer styles, earning his pub accolades and press mentions including a three-year streak of awards at the Great International Beer Festival. The stolid Titan ale is a balanced American brown ale, and the vivid Hops Explosion IPA employs a backbone of malt to keep a covey of hops in check. A posse of seasonal beers allows the brewer to keep experimenting by crafting citrusy summer ales to match cascades of sunshine and autumnal pumpkin brews the deep red-brown of changing leaves. Mateychuk also tracks down various strains of European yeast to create limited-run series, which in the past have included abbey-style Belgian beers and German-style lagers.
Inside the bright brewpub, servers carry upscale pub fare to a wall of wooden booths and benches exactly like those used in professional sitting competitions. Surrounded by vintage beer posters and paintings, patrons dine on pulled-pork tacos, housemade crab cakes, and reubens on pretzel rolls. The kitchen integrates beer into dishes such as the IPA-infused lamb burger and a deep-fried burger wrapped in beer batter and topped with chipotle-lime mayo.