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 prot?g? 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.
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.
For dessert in Boston’s North End, make your way to La Summa, tucked away in an unassuming neighborhood location on Fleet Street. The ground floor eatery actually has residential housing above it, with beautifully designed black wrought iron railings that dazzle. Named after the owner’s grandmother, this neighborhood restaurant is popular with locals who come here for a cup of hot coffee, a sampling of limoncello or a nice frothy cappuccino to linger with over a cannoli. Dessert might also include a sampling of tiramisu or creamy ricotta cheesecake, with long conversations and an amiable waitstaff rounding out the evening.
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.