Boston
1. Bar Enza
Harvard Square

The gist:The Charles Hotel just got a whole lot more interesting. Chef Mark Ladner, of the famed NYC restaurant Del Posto, has returned to his roots (he began his career cooking at a small Harvard Square restaurant and then moved onto the Olive’s kitchen).
The food: This Italian destination features impeccably sourced meat and seafood, housemade pastas, and farm fresh vegetable dishes that use produce from the Harvard Square farmers market located just outside the hotel’s entrance. It’s a smorgasbord of indulgent pleasures: linguine in white clam sauce, pork alla Milanese, chicken breast paillard, and for us the star: shake and bake hake. A terrific lineup of traditional cocktails, including many sparkling options, just seals the deal.
The cost: Appetizers and antipasti $6-$25, mains $22-$32, cocktails $12-$15.

2. Bar Volpe
South Boston

The gist: Chef Karen Akunowicz just can’t stop, won’t stop—and we sure as hell don’t want her to. Her latest South Boston venture is located just a few blocks down from her famed Fox & the Knife and lures in her loyalists with Southern Italian cooking.
The food: It’s all about wood-fired seafood, rotisserie chicken, vegetable-centric entrees (peppers, artichokes, and eggplants in particular), and as expected, more housemade pasta, which you’ll also be able to buy in the restaurant’s pastificio or pasta shop. Start with divine negronis before moving on to Akunowicz’ own eponymous wine label and her debut pour, a Sangiovese-Merlot blend that rings in at just $10 a glass.
The cost: Starters and antipasti $8-$19, entrees $19-$60, most wines by the glass $16.

3. Cafe Sauvage
Back Bay

The gist: A Parisian bistro brought to us by a husband-and-wife team born and raised in France? Cue the stampede of local Francophiles. Antoine and Anaïs Lambert cut their teeth at local spots like Petit Robert, Frenchie, and Colette Wine Bistro before opening their first restaurant in the former Hsin Hsin Cafe space.
The food: Quiches and steak frites are absolutely represented, but don’t expect a strictly old-school menu. Instead, get excited for dishes that feature Vietnamese and North African influences: banh mi, roast chicken with fried plantains, and lemon sole with harissa and Tunisian couscous. The space is currently open for brunch and dinner and is oh-so-close to obtaining its liquor license.
The cost: Small plates $15-$18, mains $19-$32.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating

4. Coquette
Seaport
The gist: Another hotel restaurant, another exciting opening. Coquette made its September debut inside the Omni Boston Hotel—and as expected from the team behind Yvonne’s, Ruka, Mariel, and Lolita, it boasts a ravishing, sexy interior befitting its name.
The food: In keeping with its waterside locale, Coquette celebrates coastal French cuisine, from raw bar offerings to crispy monkfish to seared squid, wood fire-roasted fish and lobster, and white clam flatbread. But landlubbers will hardly go hungry, what with the ribeye, porterhouse, and petit tender steak, all served with frites.
The cost: Snacks and small plates $15-$21, “feasts” $55-$115, cocktails $15, wine by the glass $12-$35, beer and cider $8-$22.
How to book: Reservations via website.
5. Geppetto
Cambridge Crossing

The gist: Will Gilson’s Gepetto actually made its initial appearance during the pandemic way back in January, teasing us with the kind of takeout we craved: half pans of Sicilian pizza, fried artichokes, kitchen sink lasagna, braised pork sugo. But the “Italian-ish” spot has now formally opened to bring us creative, seasonally driven pastas, proteins, and salads in a moody yet inviting 65-seat space.
The food: You have scallop crudo, you have fried mozzarella, you have homemade pasta dishes (spinach tagliatelle, hand-cut porcini pappardelle). Which is to say, you have everything you need. And for those with bigger appetites, you can split hearty plates like pork chop milanese and the grilled grass-fed ribeye.
The cost: Crudos and appetizers $15-$18, pastas $20-$23, plates to share $35-$45.

6. Hub Hall
North End

The gist: Finally: the answer to all your pre-game eating dilemmas. Located just steps away from the TD Garden, Hub Hall is populated by 16 new eateries and two bars. The wait has been long but well worth it.
The food: The choices are vast and wide, from fried chicken sandwiches at Lily P’s to bowls of ramen from Momosan to roast beef sandwiches from Cusser’s to slices at APizza, Douglass Williams’ much-anticipated venture into New Haven-style pizza. It’s also a one-stop opportunity to hit several institutions at once: Imagine a world where you can get an Italian sub from Monica’s Mercato, cannolis from Mike’s Pastry, and a lime rickey from Sullivan’s, all in one visit. It’s right here.
The cost: From a $4.75 lime rickey to a $36 full rack of ribs.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating

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