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Jun 12, 2008 09:25 AM

Need help on a romantic restaurants...


I'm planning on taking my girlfriend out to a really romantic dinner, it has to have BOTH dim romantic ambiance, and good food. (In my research I've found that those 2 things are hard to pair up) I have narrowed down my list of 30 or so boson/Cambridge area restaurants to 6. here they are...

Mama Maria
The Oak Room
Grill 23

so far I'm leaning towards Toscano or Ivy (which both have the ambiance I'm aiming for) but I'm easily persuaded otherwise. keep in mind, this will be a Sunday evening dinner, and a few of my top picks had to be tossed aside since they don't open on Sundays. (that means you EVOO and Salts!)

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I'm actually a fan of Mamma Maria, though many Hounds aren't. If you can get the little room for two overlooking North Square, that would be on my short list.

    The Oak Room is probably too stuffy, more 50th-anniversary dinner than girlfriend-romantic dinner.

    I don't think Ivy's food is interesting enough for a celebratory meal. I haven't been to Toscano and am planning to try it, but it sounds very unpromising to me: the menu looks overpriced and kind of middlebrow.

    Grill 23 is good as luxury steakhouses go, but the opposite of romantic: it's way too loud. Better for a big expense-account dinner with the boys.

    I like Rialto quite a bit for this kind of dinner, especially if you can get seated in one of the big corner booths (ask for one when you book). I must say I frankly preferred its menu in the Sapphire Group era. Funny, I don't like the food at either Rocca or the new Rialto as much as the old Rialto: that gang was better together.

    Maybe you could try a newer place. Estragon has great, dimly-lit atmosphere and very good Spanish food: sharing small plates is romantic, and they have some nice wine. I think the room will be very loud when it gets discovered and filled up, so go now.

    A few I might add: Ten Tables (small and cozy, with lovely food at bargain prices so you can splurge on wine, reservations essential), Scampo (another place where a good corner table is essential), Grotto (definitely cozy and romantic in the corners), Pigalle (ditto, with pretty refined French-leaning food, but you need a booth seat along the wall).

    6 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      We ate at Pigalle about 1 month ago on Sunday. It was not crowded at all (perhaps 5 occupied tables over the course of dinner). Definitely dim and romantic with good food. We didn't have a booth seat, but a table by the window - still very nice because it wasn't crowded.

      On Sundays Pigalle offer a $40 3-course prix-fixe dinner, which is a very good deal. You can still order a la carte if you wish.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I'm a fan of Mamma Maria too. My fiancee boyfriend took me there for Valentine's Day one year and it was really romantic and the food was delicious. Strolling through the North End afterwards is very romantic!

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I cant find a website for this Scampo place. any more details on that one. I'm really looking for a place with the look/feel of Toscano but with good food!

          1. re: gbloomdesign

            Scampo is the new restaurant from Lydia Shire (Biba, Pignoli, the revitalized Locke-Ober). It's creative Italian, with very strong fresh-made breads and pizzas. It's kind of cool-looking, what I might call casual/chic, with a huge open kitchen and a big U-shaped central bar. It's in the Liberty Hotel over by Mass General. Good bartending, plenty of interesting wines, dim lighting, kind of an It Place already because of Shire's reputation, though I've found the service a bit rocky on early visits. There's one dish I'd recommend avoiding, a tagiliata of sirloin that purports to be Tuscan in style but is buried in its accompaniments, kind of utterly missing the point. The house-made mozzarella is lovely and featured in a whole section of the menu.

            You can look at a menu here:

            1. re: gbloomdesign

              I like the feel of the restaurant as well. I also agree with the service comment - our waiter was invasive and entirely too much a part of our meal. I also wouldn't recommend the lobster ravioli -there were only 4 small ravioli and they were very average in a very salty broth - I expect more for $22. We also ordered the mozarella with prosciutto and while the prosciutto was tasty and there was a lot of it, there were only 3 very small slices of mozarella. I'll try it again but I must say I was underwhelmed the first time.

            2. re: MC Slim JB

              "I'm actually a fan of Mamma Maria, though many Hounds aren't. If you can get the little room for two overlooking North Square, that would be on my short list."

              I assume that the room that you are referring to is the 'Piccolo' room as stated on their site. You don't happen to have any rough idea what the minimum spend is without me having to contact the private dining manager?

              Just curious because it looks like a place that I might be interested in for an upcoming anniversary dinner.

            3. How about Grotto. I think the atmosphere there is romantic and I love the gnocci with shortribs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pegmeister

                One note about the gnocchi - it also comes with a healthy dose of gorgonzola which will hurt the romantic mood later. Maybe ask them to go light on the gorg. if you order this dish.

              2. The only places on your list that I've been to are Ivy and Grill 23, so I can't speak for the entire list, but I would advise against both Ivy and Grill 23. Neither place seems to have the atmosphere you are looking for, and I don't think Ivy's food is worthy of a really romanic evening. Its decent, but not fantastic. Two places mentioned by others that I would put above Ivy or Grill 23 would be Pigalle or Grotto for both good food and atmosphere.

                1. Icarus in the South End fits the bill. Not sure how soon you're planning you're special night, but they do a prix fixed for the month of July (think it starts after the 4th). Three courses, $30.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: purslane

                    LaLa Rohk in Beacon Hill fits the bill as does Carmen in the North End.

                  2. I will second Icarus. I find the room very romantic.