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Suggestions for dinner in Somerville/Arlington/Cambridge/etc.

I am looking for a restaurant for dinner this Sunday. I was hoping to go to Vinny's at Night, but they are closed on Sundays. I am somewhat familiar with the restaurants in this area, but I eat more Thai, Indian, and small cheap places. I'm looking for something a little nicer and probably only Italian or standard American food.

We'll have a car, so I am wondering if we might find something in Arlington, Belmont, etc? I'm not really familiar with places that aren't T accessible. I remember hearing about a good pizza place in Belmont. Would that be a good place? Otherwise I was thinking about possibly Lil Vinny's, Marino's, or maybe Christopher's if I can't think of anything else (though I've found their food to be very hit-or-miss).

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. I know it's less fun coming up with ideas for picky eaters. :)

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  1. For good pizza in East Arlington, go to Za. It's right on Mass Ave and the pizzas and salads are great. The designer pizzas are quite nice, and you can take the standard tomato sauce and cheese and pick your own toppings from among a jazzed up assortment (including the likes of bread and butter jalepenos, chorizo, homemade sausage, roasted garlic, and pickled peppers) which works great when picky eaters are in tow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jennywoj

      I heartily agree to try Za. I love the gourmet pizzas. Or the margherita pizza is recommended (with extra sauce). When I go I usually have their creme brulee, which is fabulous.
      Za's website: http://www.zarestaurant.com

      If you are interested in a restaurant in Cambridge by Concord Ave, I would recommend Aspasia (http://aspasiarestaurant.com) -- it is a cute cozy place with good food. They have a prix fixe menu, 3 courses for $28 (check to see if they are serving the prix fixe menu when you make your reservation).

    2. Marino's isn't bad, but it wouldn't be my top choice. A few good Italian places in the area include Lil Vinny's in Magoun Square, Somerville (owned by same family as Vinny's at Night), Il Faro in Medford Square (Northern and Southern Italian in a nice environment), and Lucia in Winchester (good pastas).

      For American, I really like Christopher's, though not everyone agrees with me on that. Cambridge Common between Porter and Harvard has good food, but it is more of a pub. Frank's Steak House in North Cambridge is a decent, old-school place for red meat.

      For pizza, ZA is pretty good, but there are better options. Emma's in Kendall Square is excellent if you like pizza that leans toward gourmet. And Boccelli's in South Medford has very good pizza (and you can feel like you're in Brooklyn or Little Italy if you sit downstairs, which is about as old-school as it gets).

      1. What about Bistro 5 in Medford? I've dined there once, but thought it was pretty great overall. Not far outside of the area, really just a few minutes drive from Powderhouse Square IIRC.

        There's those great thin crust pizzas at Cambridge 1 on Church St. in Harvard Square, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MB fka MB

          Bistro5 is currenly open Tuesday-Saturday only (and I think they might be on vacation this week, as it looked closed Saturday at 9pm when we were thinking of dropping in). Trattoria Pulcinella is one of my favorates, but the prices are definately a bit higher than Vinny's... probably along the same lines as La Campania which is a bit more of a hike, but worth it if it were open Sundays.

        2. I don't know if it counts as "standard American food," but I am a huge fan of the East Coast Grill in Inman Square, Cambridge.


          3 Replies
          1. re: mhoffman

            Heh, yeah, I'm not totally sure what I meant by that. :) But I had been keeping ECG in the back of my head, since it's somewhere I've been wanting to try.

            1. re: mhoffman

              I disagree with East Coast grill in Cambridge........ Have been several times and was always disappointed. I think the food is OK - but not worth what they charge for it. Somerville: Dali is EXCELLENT, pricy - but worth it. I agree with EVOO, really good as well. I've also heard good things about Emma's Pizza - am anxious to go myself...

              1. re: momscookin

                One of the secrets at ECG is to order several appetizers rather than a main course. The former tend to be spectacular while the latter are usually excellent and sometimes just ok. The salads are fabulous too.

            2. In West Cambridge, Trattoria Pulcinella is very good italian.


              Central Square - Rendezvous. While I had horrible service, the food
              was excellent. Other friends who have gone, did not experience the bad
              service. Also, Sunday nights they have a prix fixe menu.


              Somerville - EVOO


              I haven't been to Marino's in years. But, it wasn't good on any level,
              poor food and service.

              1. Have you tried Flora on Mass Ave in Arlington? He uses local produce, meats and cheeses. A very nice wine list also.

                1. Stone Hearth Pizza in Belmont is over-priced and over-rated, in my opinion. I also like Za a lot. I can't stand Emma's - probably because I grew up eating the ORIGINAL Emma's on Huron Ave. in Cambridge (anyone remember Emma and Greg, her husband who made the pizza in the front window? that was the best pizza ever).

                  If you haven't been to East Coast Grill you should go soon - it continues to be fantastic food, although the wait can seem endless (luckily they mix good drinks). That'd be my vote, especially if you need something a little more special and that has some more American choices.

                  1. Many of the places recommended (Trattoria Pulcinella, EVOO, Flora, Rendezvous, Bistro 5) are quite a bit more expensive than
                    what you seem to be looking for. I'd definitely stay away from Marino's or Frank's. Za isn't really a "pizza place," but their food is very good, so it might be a good choice.

                    1. Living in Cambridge, I go to Cambridge One, Za, Stone Hearth and Emmas all regularly. Right now, Za tops the list, followed by Cambridge One, then a tie for third with the other two. A few days ago I had the portabello specially pizza at Za and thought it was fantasic - also tried the aspargus and strawberry salads (blackboard specials) which were also excellent. The menu is a bit limiting, but the food is really good. You have to like thin crust pizza to enjoy Cambridge One, but the pizzas are nicely made and the ingrediants seem fresh. I agree that Stone Hearth Pizza is over-priced and over-rated, although perfectly fine food, and Emmas, by just staying the same, has become a bit boring and gone a little down-hill over the past few years (I love their Sangria, though), but both are positive additions to the surrounding neighborhoods and I'm sure I'll go back to both - Emma's is better to take out and Stone Hearth to eat in.

                      1. Urban Gourmet in Ball square is quite good but more of a take out than an eat-in. Likewise there's a great new place whose name escapes me where Out of the Blue used to be (382 Highland Ave.) For eat in pizza, I'd second the Cambridge One recommendation although parking that car may be difficult.

                        If you're looking in a higher price range (similar to ECG), you might consider the West Side Lounge on Mass Ave between Porter and Harvard (right across from Cambridge e Common which I'd recommend you skip if food is your goal).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: DavisSquare

                          But - if it's your scene - go to Cambridge Common for the great beer selection (24 on tap and you can get samplers!) and live music (downstairs at the Lizard Lounge) after dinner. If you go halfway through the set they often don't charge a cover, and the best part is that all the same beers are available downstairs.

                          1. re: mhoffman

                            Indeed. The Common is a fine place to drink if you like cold beer, and an acceptable place to eat if you've got a large party, just don't expect much from the food and you won't be disappointed. Think simple, i.e. burger and fries rather than fancy pasta dish.

                          2. re: DavisSquare

                            *Alex Pizza* is in the old *Out of the Blue* space. Please tell me more...is the pizza good?

                            1. re: a l i c e

                              Yes, that's it, thanks. We've only been a couple of times but the pizza is quite good. A step up from the average pizza joint. Nice people behind the counter too.

                          3. I would definitely choose Gargoyles on the Square over Orleans. I think there is enough there to please both a picky or more adventurous eater.