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Apr 24, 2010 08:05 PM

Large group celebration dinner - I need YOUR great idea! You'll see why...


I need a great restaurant recommendation. Here is the scenario:

My family LOVES food. And I won't lie, we are all pretty fantastic home cooks. When my family comes in to visit, I want to show them a great time, and they are up for it. We've eaten around Boston and have had some decent meals, but nothing fantastic. It's hard when there are 7 people and your goal is to aim for $20 entrees. Last summer we went to Pagliuca's per several recommendations. We spent $300 for a VERY disappointing (let's be frank - it was awful) dinner. Since then I have been disinclined to bring guests to Italian restaurants; don't get me wrong, we're not snobs, but why pay for something you can do better at home? I digress...

I am graduating from Northeastern in a couple of weeks and my family is coming to visit from out of state. One night, as a smaller group, we are going to a top-notch restaurant near Central Square in Cambridge. My problem is for the next night, when guests (10 of them) will range from a professional Italian chef to someone who specializes in 1950's American "cuisine"...and all are on a budget. The plot thickens...

I know Boston has many fantastic restaurants with great concepts, great food, and great atmosphere. But this occasion calls for some creativity...

I would appreciate any and all recommendations! Thanks for your help :)

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  1. It is very, very late to try for a reservation for 10 during graduation season. I think you may need to do something creative because you have no other options.

    Northeastern is graduation on May 7th. So you are probably looking for that weekend. Berklee College of Music and Emmanuel College are also graduating that weekend and it's Mother's Day.

    Here are most of the graduation dates if anyone else needs them for planning purposes.

    Does the love of food extend to ethnic cuisine? You might try someplace in Chinatown and order a big selection of entrees to share. Or, call one of the better Indian restaurants and see it they can do a table for ten.

    Or, since they are traveling here, perhaps this is the time for a place like Summer Shack. There are parts of that menu that would work for the group.

    I don't know if Pizza Regina in the North End ever takes reservations but they do have one big table and without that oven, the pizza will be better than you can make at home.

    This may be the time for fun and informal.


    Summer Shack Boston
    50 Dalton St., Boston, MA 02115

    Summer Shack
    149 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02140

    Regina Pizzeria
    Thatcher St, Boston, MA 02113

    6 Replies
    1. re: BostonZest

      Thanks Penny. I think it's a little extreme to say I have "no other options". Some of the diners are too picky for ethnic :( But yes, fun and informal is probably the way to go.

      What do people think about Pizzeria Posto? One of my guests is a pizza guy - brick oven, Naples dough recipe... I can't make this stuff up.

      I was also thinking of sharing small plates at Tasca, mostly because it's nearby.

      Thoughts anyone? :)

      1. re: jessica1986

        if you're just doing pizzas, you can stay under budget and share some unusual pizzas at Scampo...reserve at the mozzarella bar where your professional Italian chef can watch them prepare dishes and pizza, or even talk to the chefs...better call immediately to reserve though

        1. re: jessica1986

          I have been a longtime fan of Tasca, and my family and another always does big group dinners (like 14 of us!) on christmas eve there the last couple years (although it is usually pretty dead christmas eve as compared to graduation weekends). But i will say i have not been enjoying the quality of food there nearly as much in the recent year than i have (including a dissapointing pre-fixe xmas meal and more recent dissapointment when we just got a couple tapas). So at least for me, the quality has gone downhill--and I already believe it is not as good as other tapas places such as tapeo and Taberna de Haro (it just has a better price point).

          1. re: Libbypizza

            Libby - I have to agree with you about Tasca! Let's hope they pick up their game...the "appetite stimulus" is a fun thing to do on a random lazy night.

          2. re: jessica1986

            I enjoyed Posto a lot the one time I've been; there is a recent thread with more detailed reviews if you do a search. They don't normally take reservations, although they might for a large group.

            If you want to do something that isn't pizza (and if anything ethnic won't work), you might consider Highland Kitchen in Somerville (only takes reservations Sun-Thurs though) or Tupelo in Inman Square (not sure if they take reservations at all).

            1. re: greenzebra

              Tupelo wont take reservations and it's too small for a group that size I think. Highland Kitchen would be fun... if the crowd likes a jukebox and somewhat down home feel.

              Gran Gusto can do a party in their semi-private back room. Not sure if you'll get out for under $20 but it's worth a look.

              Highland Kitchen
              150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

              Gran Gusto
              90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

        2. have you tried Grotto? haven't been for a long time though so can't say how it is currently...another idea might be to get a private tatami room (with foot well, no need to kneel) at Fugakyu and order a sushi boat etc.,or maybe some shabu at Shabu Zen

          1. Go to Vinny's at Night in Somerville. You will NOT be disappointed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: StriperGuy

              Agree with both the Vinny's and the Gran Gusto recs (the latter has particularly great tomato pies). If you are on wheels, think about going to Quincy to Basta Pasta: very good, not expensive Italian food. If your folks are willing to try ethnic, try Dok Boa in Brookline: they hosted a family party of 30 for us and the thai food was enjoyed by everyone. In another direction, Privus Lounge has the best korean fried chicken in town and a good bar.

              Gran Gusto
              90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

              Privus Lounge
              161 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

              Basta Pasta
              150 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

            2. If you can get in on the amount of notice for so large a group, you may expose a lot of your guests to something new (and very good) by going to the Helmand in Kendall Sq. Cambridge. The price point is right and the food is very good. Service can be a tad spotty, but still a strong recommendation.

              1. try Toro or Coppa at a VERY early time-like when they open. food at both are great and prices are very reasonable. However prices add up very quickly so beware.

                1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                1 Reply
                1. re: TopCat

                  Thanks everyone for all your great ideas!