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Grad redux: North End lunch

I posted before, calling for help to pick a place for a post graduation celebratory dinner. Turns out, the graduation itself is at the TD Banknorth Garden, which I'm informed is in the North End. So that means I'll need to find a place to feed my crew a light lunch around there. I looked at a few suggestions for North End restaurants but they all seem to be open for dinner only. Anyone know a good place for lunch around there? Then, to complicate matters, if lunch is Italian, dinner needs to be some other ethnicity. I'd love a definitive suggestion for a one-two punch: light but good lunch near the Banknorth Garden and fabulous dinner somewhere easy to get to by car in Boston. Thanks.

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  1. Neptune Oyster for lunch......Prezza for dinner. Both in the North End.

    1 Reply
    1. re: phatchris

      Thanks. Clear and definitive. I'll check them out.

    2. I believe that the Northeastern Commencement is on Thursday, May 1. A typical midweek day.

      As much as I love Neptune, it is not a place for a group. It is small and has limited capacity. If you get there after midday, they will have problems seating you. There are many other places in the North End where a good lunch is possible. My knowledge of that area is not good so I will leave it to others (Are you there Bachslunch).

      For the evening, I would suggest a celebritory place where parking is available. That means not the North End where parking is always a problem. Mistral and Sorrelina in Back Bay are usually on such a list. If you like steak, Grill 23 should be on the list as well. I would include Hammersley's and Union in the South End.

      Whatever you chose, reserve for dinner (and lunch too) now. Graduation dinners in Boston are hard to book on short notice.

      1. How many are in your group? A large sized party can be a deal breaker at many North End spots, which have limited seating. Also, what's your budget range?

        In an ideal world, phatchris's suggestion would be great, but as BBHound pointed out, space may be an issue at Neptune Oyster.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bachslunch

          You're right BBHound, the NE commencement is May 1 but it's a Friday. I also absolutely agree I must make reservations for both lunch and dinner way in advance since other parents will have the same idea -- which is why I'm inquiring now.

          We will be only six or seven for lunch and probably around ten or eleven for dinner. Cost is not an issue. (She's got a GPA of 3.8 so she deserves the best!)

          So I'm still looking for that perfect lunch-dinner combo. Since you seem to be the expert on the North End, Bachslunch, can you recommend a good place near the Garden for lunch that can accomodate us and where I can reserve in advance? Again, since we'll be doing the big dinner thing, it doesn't have to be as spectacular, just something pleasant, easy and accessible. Then depending on what type of food it is, we can pick the dinner place.

          Thanks, all.

          1. re: lldirect

            If you're only 6 or 7, you should be OK at Neptune Oyster -- a much larger group could present a problem, though. I don't think they take reservations, so I'd get there when they open at 11:30 AM. It's worth a call to see if they do, though, as I could be wrong on that.

            Assuming this is where you have lunch, Prezza makes excellent sense for dinner, with Mamma Maria another good alternative -- and with money no object, you won't mind the likely sizable tab that will result at either. Both are very good Northern Italian spots, and I'm pretty sure both take reservations.

        2. Here's a bold suggestion. If you are not to focused on having formal lunch. Galleria Umberto ( 289 Hanover Street,). No reservations, wine served in dixie cups, Sicilian pizza served by the slice, arancini, calzones and a lot of local flavor. Not a fine dining experience by any stretch of the imagination, but can be a great, fun event for lunch- to be followed by something more spectacular for dinner.

          I'd suggest Sel de' Terre for dinner, walking distance from TD Bank North more formal, great service and food.

          1. Congratulations on your daughters great GPA, Sel de la Terre is excellent and a ten minute walk to the Garden. I'd suggest you do lunch there. You should be able to walk along the new Greenway to the Garden in a short time. As for dinner, I think Scampo in the Liberty Hotel would realy be celebratory. They have a beautiful small space for a dozen or so and the evening would be one to remember. You do have to valet your car there or could cab it or even walk it depending on where you are staying.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ghostcat

              Since the graduation is in the morning and I'm not sure how long it will take, I don't think we can go anywhere that does not take reservations. Obviously, the North End will be busy that day, and I've no doubt many others would be ahead of us, so planning to get anywhere early to avoid a wait would be impossible. After checking out Sel de la Terre, it seems like a perfect place for lunch and they take reservations. So unless some poster tells me I'm crazy, I'm going to book it. Thanks.
              As for dinner, I've heard mixed things about Scampo food and that the room is incredibly noisy, but I'll check out the private room.

              We probably won't want to go back to the North End for dinner so Back Bay or Beacon Hill or I guess anyplace else we can drive and park with ease is fine (sorry, I obviously don't know Boston). Friends in Boston are lobbying for Da Vinci or Davio's. Bristol Lounge has also been suggested but it looks kind of stuffy -- am I right? Sorellina has also been frequently mentioned. Of those four, which would you chowhounders pick?

              1. re: lldirect

                For a celebration, I think Sorellina would be a great choice. It's in the heart of Back Bay at Copley Square. I also like Davio's but feel Sorellina is more of an event.

                The other area to consider would be restaurants in the South End. Hammersley's and Union are both great for this sort of event.

                1. re: lldirect

                  Don't know where you're from but driving and parking "with ease" is tough. Strongly recommend taxi/T/walking, if possible. Or at least get your local friends to do the transport. Look at the scale on your maps, Boston may be smaller than you think.

              2. It's a Friday? Carmen (North End) is open for lunch on Fridays.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Bostonbob3

                  Good to know. But if we do Sorellina for dinner, we'll probably stick to non Italian for lunch. So unless there's some reason we can't do it (or I get a post that tells me I'm crazy), I'm going to reserve Sel de la Terre for lunch and Sorellina for dinner.

                  And the thing I love about this site is that, unlike my husband, nobody minds if you obsess ad infinitum about where you're going to eat. Bless you all.

                  1. re: lldirect

                    Make sure you report back after the event to tell us how it went.

                    1. re: BBHound

                      I absolutely will -- of course that won't be until May.

                      But, in the meantime, it's actually become a little more complicated. I have a couple of kosher people in my party meaning no meat or seafood in restaurants. I looked at the menu at Sorellina and noticed there were exactly two dishes that didn't contain meat or seafood. But after all of the above, I was loath to give up so I emailed the restaurant to see if they would modify the dishes to accomodate my picky eaters. I'll let you know if I hear back and what they say. If they're negative about it, I might end up at Davio's after all since they have plenty of grilled fish to choose from. Although someone said it was really noisy and I'm worried about that. Oy. The quest for just the right meal is never ending! And in the end, it's probably just us chowhounders who care... But that's what makes you all so special.

                2. For lunch you can try Antico Forno. They do take reservations and the food has been quite good each time I go there. It's a large enough space, although it can feel a bit crowded, to fit a large group. Their Ribolatta Soup is excellent and would fall into your light lunch category. Brick oven pizzas are great for a group lunch, they can be individual or split (small and large size).

                  1. what size is your "crew"? that may complicate plans for neptune oyster.

                    1. Massimino's in the North End is a nice option - they have a downstairs area with a full bar that is very nice and could accommodate small groups or up to about 40ish if I had to guess. They are also the closest restaurant in the North End to the TD Banknorth Garden. The owner and staff are very accommodating. I had them cater a few parties in the past and they are very reasonable. The food is some of the best in the North End too. It is quite the hidden jewel. It is on Endicott Street, away from the hustle and bustle of Hanover or Salem Streets where most of the restaurants are located. They have a website - www.massiminosboston.com.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: FeastNut2008

                        Since we're going to be 7 for lunch and we need reservations I'm staying away from Neptune. I checked Massimino's website and it looks really good. They take reservations and are open for lunch. So that's a real possibility. But if we do Italian for lunch that would obviate Sorellina or Davio's for dinner, since I don't think we should do Italian twice. Anyone have an opinion on Craigie's for dinner for ten people? Or should I stick to Sel de la Terre for lunch and Davio's for dinner?

                        1. re: lldirect

                          Hi, I read this discussion months ago since my nephew was also graduation from Northeastern and my sister (who lives out of state) wanted some ideas for a place for graduation lunch. I sent her the information about Massamino's, she called them and made a reservation for 16. Then the DAY BEFORE she went over in person and confirmed the reservation and reminded them that we had three elderly people in the party (that couldn't go downstairs) and they said they would ensure the party would be seated on the main floor.

                          Well, Massamino's appears to be like that Seinfeld episode. They can TAKE a reservation, but they can't KEEP a reservation. We arrived at the restaurant and they had given the table away (we were there on time) and they apparently had done the same thing to another party. If you haven't been to the restaurant, there is nothing to stand under outside, so it made the post-graduation downpour quite uncomfortable as we scrambled to find another restaurant that could accommodate our party on such short notice. I don't care how good this place is, they won't get my business, and I hope they don't get yours. I think that is horrible -- they knew they had a captive audience. they should have just said that they couldn't take reservations on that day.