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Small celebration of our wedding near Arlington

Hi there -

We're coming to Arlington to celebrate our wedding with friends and family who couldn't make it to ceremony. Need a place we can have lunch on a Saturday afternoon for 20-25 people, relatively near Arlington. Looking for either a place that normally isn't open for lunch, but will do a private party, or a place that has a suitably small but private room.

Here's the choices I've come up with so far:

Flora - heard very good things, but it seems the most expensive, the food is also probably a bit "fancy" for my New England in-laws.

La Buona Vita - seen some good things, but can't tell what the restaurant is like b/c they don't have any pictures online, can't tell if it's all booths, if a large party would work there, etc, also concerned about parking for everyone since its right in the center

Scutra - mixed opinions, same concerns about parking and layout of the room, menu seems a bit like Flora's but less expensive

Verona - Watertown, would be the most casual, but the owner seems great, no room rental fee, could bring our own cake with no cake cutting charge etc

Max Stein's - looks like the most traditional food, they mentioned their garden room (used to be the patio when it was Hartwell House), don't see much posted on it yet since it's still relatively new

Cafe Escadrille - not sure if they've got a space that would work for such a small group, they certainly have experience with weddings, but that might mean more $$

Any opinion on which would work best for this sort of thing? Or other suggestions on that general side of town? We don't want anything too formal, but would still like it to be nice. Ages from 80+ down to 3 so we're quite a mixed group. We're probably going to repeat our vows, etc, so needs to be somewhere where that's ok (but who isn't going to charge us for a whole "wedding package" b/c that's not what it is).

Appreciate any other suggestions or advice. Thanks!

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  1. La Buona Vita- I seem to have terrible luck there. Friends say "it's great" but the three times I've eaten there I've struck out. In any case, it's pretty small for 25 people. If I remember correctly, there are about six or eight 4-tops in there. We had a dozen people once and felt like we had taken over the place.

    1. I agree with last poster on La Buona Vita - I wasn't at all impressed with the place, though others seem to like it. My last experience with Scutra was not great (more about what seemed to me to be somewhat muddled flavors rather than any real food or service glitches), but have had good ones in the past (including a small birthday party -- 8 or 10 people). They have a parking lot, so parking shouldn't be a problem. Flora has the best food of your Arlington choices, and I don't think parking would be a problem on a Saturday afternoon.

      1. You should check out Prose in Arlington. Fantastic food but not as expensive as Flora or Scutra. Some people don't like the look from the outside, but the inside of the restaurant is really quite cozy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: margie

          The thing about Prose is that (unless things have changed) the sole chef also waits the tables and it's just not set up for serving a large group all at once. Agree that the food is good though.

        2. I had the displeasure of eating at Cafe Escadrille for the first time last month. If your guests all happen to be 90 or older, it might be perfect, otherwise skip it.

          1. For something this important, I strongly recommend that you try the food yourself at the place and talk to the people there before committing to a lunch location. I've had a very good meal at Scutra but that was over a year ago. Perhaps it would be feasible if you narrowed things down to 2 or 3 choices and then go to the restaurants to try the food and see what the service is going to be like.

            1. Thanks for all the input :)

              I should've mentioned that we're coming in from Seattle - so, we may be able to go to the restaurant a few days before to iron out the details, but we'd need to reserve further in advance to make sure they can do that day, etc.

              Does Prose have a website (I couldn't find one) - what about room size (big enough for 25?) or parking for them?

              Anyone have a FOF (Friend of Friend) who's done something at Max Stein's?

              1 Reply
              1. re: SeattleLi

                I thought I posted this the other day, but maybe I didn't hit post.

                I had one dinner at Max Stein's and my girlfriend has been to one fuction there. I thought the food was good and since they have a separate room for functions, it might work out well for you. I think the menu would satisfy the big range in ages you have in your party. The downside is price. It's not outrageous, but it aint cheap either.

              2. I've been to Verona for functions (co-worker's goodbye party). It was pretty unremarkable italian-american. But then again, if the price is right, the place is convenient and you get a good vibe from the place, then maybe it would work. Certainly, it's familar stuff that won't frighten the elders and kiddies. Plus, it's about the celebration, and not the food anyway..

                And they are next door to a giant parking (meters) lot and on the bus route from harvard square.


                1. La Buona Vita is way too small, as is Scutra, Flora is OK, but is more expensive. Have you consisdered Winchester/Woburn? Lucia, in Winchester, is pretty, large enough and has reliable Italian food. Tre Monte in Woburn Center should also be considered. Another possibility in Arlington would be Tryst. Good luck!

                  1. Another choice for reasonably good and not intimidating Italian would be Felicia's on Main St. in Stoneham

                    1. I'd look at Marino's on Mass Ave in North Cambridge, just over the Arlington line. MUCH higher quality than Verona, emphasis on fresh, healthy ingredients and yet comfortably Italian dishes. They have a small lot and there are meters on the street. Website says they have a function room that seats up to 100.


                      btw: Tryst is probably just as expensive as Flora. The folks who run Flora are great. A friend had her 50th birthday dinner there on a Friday night and they couldn't have been nicer.

                      1. We live in Arlington, and had my daughter's bat mitzvah party at Dalya's, in Bedford (not far from Arlington). I've been to all the other places you mentioned, and think you would find Dalya's best for this type of party. They do have a small party room, but as you mentioned, the restaurant is usually not open for lunch on Saturday, so the main dining room may be available. It's a lovely, country French atmosphere, with a fireplace (obviously depending on the weather it might not be in operation), but is very cozy. The owner/chef is Dutch,very accomodating, and the food is delicious. The staff is warm, but professional. There is a large parking lot. Here is a link:

                        1. If you are considering Max Stein's, then it's only a little further to Dalya's in Bedford. Delicious American/continental cuisine, good wine list, excellent service, nice atmosphere. They have a separate room which should hold 25. www.dalyas.com

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cap

                            You know, Dalya's is a terrific suggestion. Pleasant drive there from Arlington, parking lot, good food and excellent service. We had an office function there and were extremely pleased with how it went.

                            1. re: GretchenS

                              We've had a family function at Dalya's, too, which was quite successful.

                          2. Very close by are both Trattoria Pulcinella and Apsasia, both of which I have not been to but both get nice write-ups on this board. Maybe they could accomodate group dining?


                            1. Ristorante Olivio on Mass Ave Arlington. They are not open for lunch but they do parties. Also they just put on an addition with function rooms that would handle your party. Great Seafood dishes on the weekend to go with the italian menu. Prices much better than Flora [who I find over rated. Prose is nice but the owner does wear alot of hats which could be problematic. Stein's very upscale and pricey. Good Luck

                              1. I don't know if it is opened on Saturday afternoons but Frank's Steak House on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge might be a good New England choice. It is right on the Arlington line.