I'm trying to remember the name of a restaurant I went to a couple of years ago. I think it was new-ish at the time. I remember it being in the Kendall/MIT area, definitely in a hotel. I believe it was Italian inspired. FANTASTIC food, very large/funky paintings on the wall, dim lighting. I know that's not much but any help would be appreciated!
Sounds a bit like the now-closed Sophia's in the Fenway. That chef/painter now has his own restaurant with walls on which to hang his big abstract paintings: 51 Lincoln in Newton, which I think is one of the better suburban fine-dining restaurant around. But it wasn't in a hotel, and was more Eclectic, a bit Iberian leaning with a small-plates focus, not Italian.
Italian and hotel-based could be Rialto in the Charles Hotel, Harvard Square. But that has never had big painting nor dim lighting that I could recall.
Could you be thinking of Domani in the Copley Square Hotel, Back Bay? They had some funky stuff on their walls. It's gone for good, now.
Grotto on Beacon Hill isn't in a hotel, but otherwise matches.
Scampo in the Liberty Hotel on Beacon Hill fits except for the artwork and the fact that it only opened less than two months ago.
I think you might bethinking of Bambara in the Hotel Marlowe: it a hotel, funky decor, near Kendall/MIT...it's techincally an "American brasserie" (good steak frites the one time I dined there), but I believe they have some Italian and mediterranean food: orchiette and risotto last time I was there. It's virtually untalked about on these boards, and I think caters almost exclusively to its hotel guests. Here's the web site; http://www.bambara-cambridge.com/
Speaking of Dante, had a great (business) lunch there Friday. I had the salmon which had beautifully crisped skin, served over soft polenta with mushrooms. Perfect for that drizzly day. My colleague had a tuna melt with fries that were great. I didn't try her sandwich, but it looked very good. Quiet, efficient service, nice wine list ( I had an Albarino that was all melon and summer fruit) and very reasonable when the company is paying.