Lost in the suburbs
OK. Girlfriend's parents want to take me out to birthday dinner. They live in Shrewsbury. We live in Boston. If you have to go West where does one lay one's hat? I've heard there's some good restaurants out there, but their idea of good eats is John Harvards. What's inexpensive and still good. Italian? Nouveau American. Authentic and honest would be a plus. No Olive Garden please...
If they like JH, they'll order an entree at Tomasso and leave hungry. It is a great restaurant, best when ordering multiple courses. Also consider arturo's and El Basha (BYO), both in Westboro. Admitedly, I am partial to the Parlor in Upton. Sky in Sudbury would be another good halfway point.
If you're NOT meeting them at some midway-point or if you're going back to the in-laws afterwards Tony's excellent suggestion of Willy's Steakhouse in Shrewbury makes sense; http://www.willyssteakhouse.com/
As does trufflehounds pick of Arturo's in Westborough.
My best-of-the-best favorite in the area would be Romaine's in Northborough; http://www.romainesrestaurant.com/
All three are exceptional, will not disappoint and a short drive from anywhere in Shrewbury.