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.
A spectacular range of locally sourced delicacies and keepsakes fills Local Vines with a whirlwind of color and fragrance. Ranks of marmalade, honey, tapenade, and olives ($4.25+) strut the brimming aisles, eager to move into their new belly-homes, and hand-painted tea towels ($10.74) serve as more enduring kitchen companions. The shop's customizable gift baskets ($20+) can be loaded with seasonal epicurean favorites as carefully selected as Emeril's bedtime story, and the dulcet Puopolo dark-chocolate almond bark ($14.99/half-pound bag) baits sweet teeth into pouncing. Though this Groupon is not valid toward alcohol, the shop's extensive wine selection showcases a plentitude of hometown-grape heroes and imported Bacchus fuels alike, and an array of events strengthens budding oenophiles and parades potential cheese pairings. The shop's Summer Solstice shindig, which runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on June 25, celebrates the invention of the sun with appearances by area winemakers and samples of cheese, craft beers, and sausage.
Front Street Gourmet furnishes home feasts with comprehensive deli offerings, spirits, and sweet confections available for carryout and catering. The daily takeout menu wraps up and sandwiches slow-cooked barbecue chicken, lobster salad, and classic cold cuts, and hefty catering trays boast Boar's Head meat and artisan cheeses to be mixed and matched by groups and famished cement trucks. At the onsite bakery, confectioners decorate desserts such as cupcakes and full-size cakes with custom artwork that conveys anything from a birthday message to a baby's first haiku. An extensive cache of international beers, wines, and spirits rounds out the epicurean inventory, and Front Street Gourmet's team of gastronomes specializes in at-home wine tastings, providing parties with staff members upon request.
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.
Thousands of fashionistas flock to StyleFixx Premier Shopping Events to meet up-and-coming independent fashion designers and browse the latest styles. This year’s displays include the 2012 lines of Hivernage NYC, Bling Boutique, and Cimber Designs. In between shopping sprees, attendees may relax with complimentary beauty treatments such as hair services by Dellaria Salons, makeovers by Virginn Pure Mineral Makeup, and body wraps by good-natured mummies. Once pampered, refreshed guests mingle while sipping free cocktails and munching on samples from Finale Desserts and Haru Sushi, and each partygoer receives a StyleFixx Swag Bag loaded with product samples.