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.
Guests arriving to the Sheraton Needham Hotel might find their senses flooded with the aromas of classic American cuisine. The enticing smells come courtesy of Link Café & Bar, located just off the main lobby. There, chefs concoct a range of house specialties, from grilled chicken wings doused in teriyaki or chipotle barbecue sauce to flatbreads topped with figs and goat cheese or prosciutto and pears. Pub-inspired large plates such as English-style bangers and roasted salmon with mustard-chive sauce are hearty enough to sate any appetite, and make a perfect pairing for one of the bar's classic cocktails. Link Café & Bar also offers top-quality wines by the glass or flight, and each vintage on its compact, international list was chosen because it earned a high score from Wine Spectator and also aced the essay portion of its application.
The food at Shays Pub & Wine Bar ranges from Tex-Mex feasts to light servings of hummus, but all the dishes are united by one common thread: almost everything is made in-house from scratch. One example: the homemade enchilada sauce, which is smothered atop burritos bursting with melted cheese, rice, jalapeños, and onions. The fries are likewise homemade and hand cut, and make a perfect accomplice to the cheddar cheeseburger and the turkey and bacon sandwich. The wines on the menu, however, were not made in-house; even better, they hail from Italy, France, and New Zealand. Shays Pub also features 10 brews on tap and a list of bottled beers that includes Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.
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.
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.
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.