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Dec 19, 2007 01:04 PM

Ciao Bella on Newbury

Had a pleasant lunch there today with OK food and excellent service. I seem to remember that the owner was an outstandingly nice man who was ALWAYS there, greeting everyone and being the perfect host. He wasn't there today or a year ago when I was last there. Was it sold?

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  1. I'd be curious to know what you ordered. Ciao Bella is generally considered to be one of the worst restaurants in Boston.

    1. Really? I've had lots of worse food. My husband and I split a really excellent Caesar salad. Then he had a pasta in red sauce, I had linguini with white clam sauce. Both of those were just OK. Is there any really GOOD food on Newbury?

      1 Reply
      1. re: SSqwerty

        I think tamerlanenj may have used a bit of hyperbole when he said it was "generally considered one of the worst restaurants in Boston." Boston has so many phenomenal Italian eateries (Trattoria Toscana, Prezza, my new love Gran Gusto...) that Ciao Bella pales by comparison in quality; additionally it slaps on the requisite "Newbury Street surcharge" to pay the rent. Plus, "generally" suggests the inclusion of not just chowhounds, but all the, uh, civilians out there, and I don't think the negative sentiment for Ciao Bella is especially pervasive outside this board.

        I think you're exactly right, SSqwerty: in terms of cost/benefit ratio, Back Bay gets my vote for worst chow neighborhood in town. However, although I haven't been yet, La Voile has been getting very good reviews on the board for its country French; in fact, the same hyperbolic poster from above referred to it as "the Savior of Newbury Street." I'm looking forward to trying it.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Agreed, finlero: Ciao Bella isn't one of the worst restaurants in Boston (an interesting thread idea), but it's especially annoying to Chowhounds because it's so howlingly mediocre, thriving and drawing crowds year in and year out while far worthier restaurants wither and die. The throngs of tourists and suburbanites that are drawn to Newbury Street for the shopping and people-watching keep many rotten places in business.

          La Voile is a new Provençal French place that recently opened, and is excellent. Cafe at the Taj is very good, and not as expensive as you might imagine for a swanky hotel.

          Paraphrasing my recent post on this subject: Newbury Street is far worse than the mayor's office and industry PR would lead you to believe, and thus fun for Hounds to dump on, like chain restaurants or Faneuil Hall or most of the North End. But there are oases to be found, places that are okay to good, if not exactly worth making a trip for; you don't have to starve. Some highlights (or I suppose medium-lights):

          Tapeo (passable tapas, good Spanish wines, excellent sangria, lovely patio); Sonsie (too self-impressed with its very passé scene, but good for weekday breakfast, decent for weekend brunch); Bouchee (sirloin steak frites at lunch is a good deal, but it's Epcot Center France otherwise); Thai Basil (an okay Westernized Thai joint); Trident (good breakfast or lunch in a bookstore).

          A footnote: friends went to the recently opened Cafeteria, and reported that (yet again in this location) the service is truly abominable, the food unmemorable. I have not yet visited it myself.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            No doubt this leaks over into another topic, but the reason we usually end up at Ciao Bella for lunch is that they are OPEN for lunch. Any suggestions for better lunch food near Newbury during the week?

            1. re: SSqwerty

              Burgers at Abe and Louie are only available for lunch and are the best reason to eat there.

              The Palm is also decent if you like a "power-lunch" feel. Another decent burger, when the bun isn't stale (see my review).

              La Voile will be open for lunch soon,. I hear.

              1. re: SSqwerty

                Some lunch options on or near Newbury that I like: Parish Cafe (great sandwiches, casual pub feel), Laurel (very reasonable for a Back Bay white tablecloth place, serving gussied-up comfort food), Vlora (haven't been for lunch yet, but really enjoyed their Albanian/Greek/Italian for dinner recently), Kaya (good Korean, haven't tried the Japanese -- did this one close, too?), Douzo (mod sushi and other Japanese), Bangkok Blue (decent Thai), Scoozi (pretty good fancy pizza), Chilli Duck (very good Thai, with an authentic "Thai specialties" menu), Bhindi Bazaar (good pan-Indian), Other Side Cosmic Cafe (good sandwiches, soups, fresh juices), Via Matta (creative Italian, a decent deal at lunch).

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                heard the same thing almost word for word from friends about Cafeteria.

              3. Thanks for the help, fellow hounds. Clearly I have to try La Voile!

                4 Replies
                1. re: SSqwerty

                  I am actually a big fan of Sonsie for a casual dinner on a Monday or Tuesday. You can have an extremely decent meal for a reasonable price. I like the seasonal and regular appetizers, salads, pizza and pasta but tend to stay away from the right side of the menu. That being said, I wouldn't dream of going Thursday - Saturday... Just too much of a scene.

                  1. re: pamplemouse

                    Welcome to the small 'fans of Sonsie' club. Good food, not overly expensive. I however enjoy watching the scene on a Thurs., it's half the fun.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      I'm with you! And its an incredibly civiilized place for coffee and a pastry on weekday mornings. (only the front section is open).

                    2. re: pamplemouse

                      Well count me in the club, I always think that Sonsie gets a bad rap. Yeah it's sceney, but I like it. It's a nice place to have lunch if you're in the area, especially in the summer when they have the big front windows open.