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2 New Yorkers in Boston in September...

...and we'd love to hear your thoughts on where we should look for the best seafood (and other dishes).

Some background: my wife and I love visiting Boston, try to do so at least once a year. We forgive Beantowners for rooting for rooting for that team (I think it's called the Red Sox, or something like that), us being longtime diehard Yankee fans.

But I digress...

We visited last year, posted a lengthy recap of our visit (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322341) and got some good feedback, and some criticism that we hadn't posted earlier to ask for recommendations. We also got some criticism for having gone to chains and concentrating on Back Bay.

Fact is, we stay in Back Bay (this time at the Hilton), and we don't have a car, and we're ignorant NYers, so we use Zagat's and Open Table and things like that. We're also of an age, so long walks are, hmmm, not as enticing as they used to be. But we don't mind public transportation (if well explained) and/or using cabs.

So we're gonna be at the Hilton in Back Bay the weekend of 9/21, again with no car, but a lot of desire to try Boston's best.

We'd love to hear what Boston Chowhounders recommend for great seafood. Last year we went to B&G (actually we visit B&G every time we go to Boston), McCormick & Schmick, Legal, Atlantic, Skipjack's, Turner. We concentrated on lobster, and it's pretty amazing what differences we experienced (read the report).

We'd particularly like to hear about the Italian section in North End, don't know anything about it, love to try one or two places during our visit, especially places that serve up great Italian seafood.

If you read the other post you'll see that we were really disappointed in Union Oyster House on our last visit. Any current thoughts on it now?

We're open to any other suggestions as well, love to hear what you friendly Bostonites recommend.

Many thanks in advance...

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  1. Giaccomos in the North End does delicious Italian Seafood. I love their fried calamari and any of their seafood dishes over pasta has always been good. Some Chowhounders may disagree with me but I love Jasper White's Summer Shack. It's casual and the food is fun and wonderful. The Rhode Island Spicy Calamari is delish. I have had lobster there too and it is great especially the pan roasted lobster. The thing that is so great about Boston and the Surrounding area is that we all know how to cook lobster. Whether you are a chef or home cook we all know how to make lobster properly. It's in our blood. I guess what I am saying is that where ever you go and get lobster you can bet that it will be good! Regina pizza is even better than pizza in NYC and I Loove NYC. Great Bay is another lovely seafood restaurant that serves seafood very artfully prepared and it is very tasty. Even though Quincy Market can be touristy it is still nice and will give you a nice flavor of Boston. Cross the street and you will be on the Waterfront and you can also walk to the North End. Eat some raw oysters and clams while you are here. Legal does great raw bar and their sangria is good too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hoplover

      Hi Hop,

      Thanks for the suggestions, Giacomo's sounds great.

      We know of Jasper White (doesn't everyone?), so we'd be up for trying his place. He's been the acknowledged lobster master for quite some time...

      We know Quincy Market quite well. Agree that it can be touristy (well, we are tourists, after all), but it does have a lot of variety and there are a lot of places to stop and have a libation, including those great Irish bars around the perimeter.

      Thanks again...

      1. re: BrookBoy

        Guess I'll play the role of designated naysayer regarding Summer Shack. There have been a couple positive recent reports here about lobsters and lobster rolls, but my experience has universally been poor food-wise there, with sky-high prices and airplane hanger level noise to boot. I'd tread with caution if you go. Both B&G Oysters and Neptune Oyster run rings around this place, in my experience.

    2. Thanks for being so thorough, it really helps.

      I remember your post from last summer and thought that the Limo Liner sounded like a pretty cool experience.

      Stick with your regular B&G outing but I might suggest that you also try Neptune Oyster in the North End as a foil. They don't take reservations and it does get very crowded, so if it is possible try to make it an early dinner option, go for that. This would fit the bill for seafood in the North End. They also have a great warm and cold version of a lobster roll, but again, get there early as they have been running out during peak dinner service. By the way forget about the Oyster House unless it is for raw bar only downstairs.

      While I have not had a first hand experience I recently heard from a good friend that Mare, also in the North End is very nice (and pricey) seafood option. I would second Hop's suggestion of Giacamos, but again you are faced with no reservations an the possibility of a very long wait

      Keeping within the back bay if you are willing to part with some cash for a fine dining experience there is Uni and Clio, both in the Elliot hotel.

      For pizza Regina is great but I prefer Ernestos on Salem street, but I don't want to enter into that holy war conversation, especially w/ a New Yorker.

      For good French Bistro fare there is Petit Robert Bistro, most entrees under 20 bucks (Takes reservations) and for a similarly good value but american fare there is Franklin Cafe in the south end (no reservations), entrees under 20.

      One of my favorites is Eastern Standard for great meals and they feature a good amount of offal and charcuterie and reasonably priced. They also have good talent behind the bar.( Best to visit when the Sox are not playing home due to its proximity to the stadium).

      We (Boston) have a very respectable China Town and if any asian cuisines pique your interest we can probably help there too.

      Good Luck and Happy Eating

      Neptune Oyster
      63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

      Eastern Standard
      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

      135 Richmond Street, Boston, MA 02109

      Giacomo's Restaurant
      355 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

      370-A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

      Ernesto's Pizza
      69 Salem St, Boston, MA 02129

      Petit Robert Bistro
      468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

      Franklin Cafe
      278 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

      1 Reply
      1. re: Food4Thought

        Hi Food,

        Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful reply. We'll definitely give at least some of your suggestions a shot. It'll be a challenge to get thru them all in our 3 days, but that's a challenge we like.

        Too bad about the Union Oyster House. My wife and I have been going there for probably 25 years, each time we hit Boston. It had become a kind of ritual for us. We loved to get there in time for the homemade and free potato chips they bring out around 4 PM — one measly serving each, but it made you feel special. But the last two times we went, we were really disappointed, even in the oysters, which were served on a platter, no ice, not at all appealing. Well, you can only hope that management will come to their senses sooner rather than later...

        And thanks for your suggestion about Chinatown. We go to the various Chinatowns in NYC a lot, also in SF when we're fortunate enough to travel there, but we never think of it in Boston. Maybe we'll try it this time...

        And we're doing the Limo Liner again...

      2. You might also try the Daily Catch in the north end for Italian seafood but keep in mind it's tiny with no bathroom. Those of us who like Sonsie are in the minority but it's a 5 min walk from your hotel and I think they do "new American" well for a pretty good price. The place can be too sceney but I just roll with it. On Boylston St. is Chili Duck if you want a quick Thai meal. Parish cafe on Boylston St. by the Public Garden is good for interesting sandwiches created by the chefs around town. If you take the #1 or CT1 bus over the bridge into Cambridge, you can try Central Kitchen, Salts, Rendezvous or Green St. in Central Sq. All have a few seafood choices on the menu and are very good in general.

        And I'm sorry the Jets haven't won a Superbowl in hmm, how long?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joanie

          Hi Joanie,

          Thanks for the suggestions, especially for the ones close by. I like the name Chili Duck enough that I'd want to try it, but I'm not sure about my wife.

          Re the Jets, I had to laugh at your comment. But you gotta admit, when they did win their Super Bowl, it REALLY got everyone's attention...

          Thanks again for the nifty suggestions...

          1. re: BrookBoy

            Chili Duck is a great place. It's bright and cheery, the staff is friendly and they are very accomodating. You can go with their authentic Thai menu and have more of a fiery experience or go with the milder every day menu.

        2. I'm glad to hear that you hit B&G when you visit as it's one of my favorites! I agree with the Giacomo's recommendations but there is also one in the South End that actually does take reservations. For North End Italian, not necessarily seafood, my favorite is Prezza. They have a great bar, take reservations and actually serve desserts which many North End restaurants do not do. There are many Prezza posts on the board that you can check out.

          24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

          Giacomo's Restaurant
          431 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116

          1 Reply
          1. re: lissy

            Yep, I was gonna mention the Giacomo's in the South End. Easily walkable from your hotel in Back Bay and great if you have a night where you want something good, basic red sauce, cheap and casual. It's good --but nothing truly earth shattering so if you have a limited number of meals and want them all to be special, I probably wouldn't put this on your list. Just depends what you're looking for.

          2. Hi,

            If you' ve been going to the Union Oyster House, for that old "Boston" atmosphere, you might want to try Durgin Park, at Quincy Market instead. While there's been a lot of chatter here about it recently, I'm personally a fan of the place. Especially for tourists, it's a great way to experience old fashioned Yankee cooking. They also have an excellent Prime Rib, and very good seafood as well. It's also one of the oldest restaurants in the country, probably having started just after Union Oyster House opened.


            1. If you have an interested in seafood, and haven't been to East Coast Grill yet, you absolutely must do that on this trip. No more excuses.

              You will need to get a cab, however.

              You might want to try the better Chinatown seafood joints, like Peach Farm and Lucky House.

              East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
              1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              5 Replies
              1. re: Alcachofa

                Agree completely w/East Coast Grill. If you haven't tried it yet you should. Great food, well made cocktails, all served in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. One of my favorite spots in Boston (actually, Cambridge.) An added bonus --Christina's ice cream right next door. We're known for our ice cream here in Boston and Christina's is one of the (if not THE) best. A must visit after ECG.

                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  We're Boston visitors (staying in Cambridge this week), and tried ECG for the first time a couple of nights ago. This place is definitely cute and the food (seafood and bbq!) is quite good (not exceptional). Atmosophere is cheery, happy, busy... but we found the experienced lacked something. We like a meal where we can hang out and linger, but the bright and breeze-y vibe here had us in and out within an hour (not like us). Food was good, but not great. Maybe for lunch, if you're in Cambridge anyhow, but I would be disappointed if we'd made this a destination.

                  I would second Eastern Standard Kitchen... more "adult" scene and I think they do have a fairly good raw bar. I am curious to try Great Bay for seafood (also at the Hotel Commonwealth). Reports on CH sound good, but I can't give a first hand account as yet.

                  1. re: Rabbit

                    If memory serves, East Coast Grill is not open for lunch.

                    1. re: bachslunch

                      Only brunch on the weekend.

                      Rabbit, it is certainly not a sedate environment. But East Coast Grill is the first choice for seafood for many people in the Boston area. Tastes differ, but it would be a huge mistake to steer anyone away from there without trying, especially someone as into seafood as BrookBoy seems to be.

                2. re: Alcachofa

                  For Chinatown Seafood joint, I'd also add New Jumbo (for fried stuff). Potluck Cafe is in the same league, but it's foochow cuisine and there's lots of that in Manhattan's Chinatown.

                3. I'll second the suggestions you're getting on the North End: Prezza for upscale Northern Italian, Giacomo's and Daily Catch for Southern Italian seafood, and Pizzeria Regina for pizza (Ernesto's is quite good and will provide slices -- big ones -- but is a step below Regina's). Other good choices would be Antico Forno and Maurizio's for sit down Southern Italian, Galleria Umberto for super cheap and excellent So. It. comfort food (lunchtime only), and Mamma Maria for No. It. upscale.

                  If you really want to blow the bankroll on an upscale meal in your neighborhood, L'Espalier and Clio are great options, arguably the two best restaurants in the city.

                  For Chinatown options, check out this recent thread:


                  And yes, Union Oyster House is still lousy unless you stick to raw oysters and beer at the bar. I'll strongly second Durgin Park as an alternative.

                  1. If you are staying in Back Bay it would be a crime not to dine at Sorellina. Beautiful space, excellent service, delicious food. Not seafood-centric but have had several seafood preparations there which were delicious. Glad you liked Legal- love their oysters, sole sauteed with lemon and capers, crab cakes etc.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: emilief

                      Sorellina is fantastic. It breaks the bank but well worth it. It's without a doubt the most sophisticated Italian food in Boston. I have been twice and I have felt well taken care of there. Even though it's a higher end restaurant I have not felt it to be pretentious. Last time I went I noticed that people were dressed in whatever somewhat nice clothes they had. It was not a fashion show but people who wanted a killer dinner. Giacomos has two locations. South End and the north End BTW. Have a wonderful time.