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Only 1 good Italian Restaurant in Cambridge and no French Restaurants at all

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Why ??
If you live in Cambridge where do you go nearby for a great Italian or French meal?
I know what Boston has to offer so no recs there please.

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  1. Disagree that there's no good French or Italian in Cambridge. Here are some suggestions nearby and not in the direction of Boston:

    Italian: dante, Rialto, Trattoria Pulcinella, Bistro 5, Lil Vinny's, Vinny's at Night, Posto, Il Pescatore

    French: Craigie on Main, Salts, Sandrine's, T.W. Food, Chez Henri (dining room), Elephant Walk

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    Trattoria Pulcinella
    147 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

    Pescatore
    158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

    Elephant Walk
    2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

    Bistro 5
    5 Playstead Road, Medford, MA 02155

    Chez Henri
    1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

    T.W. Food
    377A Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

    Craigie on Main
    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Sandrine's
    8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 02138

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Also more downscale Italian/Italian-inspired options including City Girl Cafe, Armando's, Emma's, Cambridge One...Baraka Cafe is heavily French-influenced as well.

    2. What is the good Italian restaurant you are mentioning? Gran Gusto? I'm a big fan of that place. Also, East Side Bar and Grille on Cambridge Street has some decent Italian food as well.

      As for French, Bondir on Broadway has been getting good reviews, though it may be a bit closer to New American than French.

      -----
      Gran Gusto
      90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

      Bondir
      279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

      3 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        I like Gran Gusto and in the same vein Posto is very good as well. Somerville, yes, but the boundaries blur.

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        Gran Gusto
        90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

        1. re: yumyum

          And here's a picture of the great pizza at Posto. (this was the Calabrese with very good salumi, basil and fiore de latte)

           
        2. re: hiddenboston

          It is Grand Gusto!

        3. I disagree as well. Sandrine's is good as is Rialto and Dante. I've heard great things about Craigie on Main & Chez Henri.

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          Chez Henri
          1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          Sandrine's
          8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 02138

          1. You must not get out much ;-) I agree with the other posters below. Lot's of options.

            1 Reply
            1. re: StriperGuy

              or your standards are very high; you can always try lyon.

            2. Pescatore is great! I think if it were anywhere but its little corner in Ball Square it would be slammed with people. Food is super tasty, prices are reasonable, service is good - what more could you ask for? We love this place - but of course we're walking in knowing what exactly to expect.

              -----
              Pescatore
              158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

              4 Replies
              1. re: Ella Bella

                I will go tonight!

                1. re: Ella Bella

                  what are your 3 favorite dishes there?

                  1. re: holldoll

                    i've had, and enjoyed, the fusilli amalfi and the steak tips. their pizza is also very good. it's not a super fancy place, but a fantastic neighborhood joint.

                  2. re: Ella Bella

                    I've only been to Pescatore once but I was a little disappointed. I had the Fusilli Amalfi, and the shrimp were overcooked, the lobster too - but the scallops were very good. To be fair, my DCs enjoyed their meals very much (sorry, I can't remember what they ordered - it was a couple of months ago). The service was good and our waiter was VERY handsome - I chuckled b/c I was there with 2 girlfriends, and most of the other tables seemed to be full of women too.

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                    Pescatore
                    158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

                  3. That's not easy. There is certainly no Italian restaurant in Cambridge worth the money. I don't want to get into a food fight about this, but to call Rialto good or Italian, well, fine, if you're buying, I'll agree. Otherwise, it's decent hotel food.

                    French is easier. There's no French restaurant in Cambridge, other than Sandrine's, which might be avoided, but I agree with MC on French-influenced places: Craigie, Rendezvous, Upstairs in the Square, TW Food.
                    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                    -----
                    Sandrine's
                    8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                    30 Replies
                    1. re: scotty27

                      ok, where do you eat italian in boston? in nyc besides Esca?

                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        I go to Scampo. It ain't great, but I love the vibe, Mario the waiter, the room, and the breads. If they bothered to drop bucks on the pasta, it has the potential of being a great restaurant. But do they care? They do not care, and that is a shame; who wants to see anyone function below their potential?
                        www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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                        Scampo
                        215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                      2. re: scotty27

                        I'm looking for classique french. Steak au poivre, blanquette de veau, duck l'orange, pate, frites, onion soupe, profiteroles, chocolate mousse. Not Cuban, Belgian, Cambodian, Middle Eastern or anything that is "french influenced" whatever that means. I've been to all of the above and while they are good restaurants they aren't exactly what I was thinking of.
                        Sandrines is Alsacian and more German/Swiss than "french" French ;-)

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                        Sandrine's
                        8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                        1. re: holldoll

                          If they don't have what you're desirous of in Cambridge, why not go into Boston or Brookline? Get on the 66, and go to Cognac Bistro on Harvard St. in Brookline. Petit Robert Bistro is Kenmore Sq. , on the Green Line. (my go to place for profiteroles. ) Jacky's Table on Comm Ave in Brighton., also on the Green Line. All pretty close to Cambridge, closer if you drive.

                          -----
                          Petit Robert Bistro
                          468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

                          Cognac Bistro
                          455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                          1. re: holldoll

                            Ah, I see. Well, fuggetaboutit. Not here, unless you want to drop by for dinner. You are 100% correct about Sandrine's. Try France. It's winter. Prices are low on airfare.
                            www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                            -----
                            Sandrine's
                            8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: holldoll

                              That's a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes French food. Elephant Walk and Chez Henri don't do fusion with their other cuisines, but pretty straight-up French bistro dishes (and you can't even get the Cuban dishes in Chez Henri's dining room). Ost may be Alsatian, but most of his menu is straight-up French bistro, too, with only a handful of Alsatian specialties.

                              French-influenced means using the long-codified techniques of haute French cookery -- think Carême, Le Guide culinaire by Escoffier, and Larousse Gastronomique -- and that's clearly evident in Cambridge's many fine chef-owned New American places (e.g., TW, Craigie, Salts), though they give it a highly seasonal and locally-sourced slant.

                              What you're looking for is on the other side of the Charles: the Petit Roberts, Pierrot, Brasserie Jo.

                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                              -----
                              Elephant Walk
                              2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

                              Chez Henri
                              1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              Brasserie Jo
                              120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                I know, I'm prissy. But Elephant Walk is dreadful and Paul Conners? Well, the less said the better. French. Not at all.

                                I certainly agree about Petit Robert, despite their frozen bread and inexcusably bad service. Brasserie Jo? If I was starving, I'd consider it. French? Well...

                                www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                -----
                                Elephant Walk
                                2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                Brasserie Jo
                                120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

                                1. re: scotty27

                                  My comment was directed at the OP. The chef/owner at Chez Henri is Paul O'Connell. But thanks.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Also, since I presume the "Middle Eastern...french-influenced" shot was directed at my recommendation of Baraka Cafe, I'll point out that Baraka is actually North African, and the family that runs it is either French or lived in France, so they are actually cooking French dishes (and North African dishes...from countries that were long French colonies), like Steak Frites, with an inflection from other traditions. I guess my definition of what constitutes "French" includes the country's *many* culinary traditions...which include Alsatian among others mentioned here.

                                  -----
                                  Baraka Cafe
                                  80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                3. re: holldoll

                                  please post if you know of any place in the greater Boston area that has blanquette de veau, thanks!

                                  1. re: barleywino

                                    La Voile on Newbury lists it on the menu. I haven't had it but been pleased by the other dishes I've had there.

                                    -----
                                    La Voile
                                    261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                4. re: scotty27

                                  Ditto!!

                                  1. re: scotty27

                                    FWIW, after Jody Adams, chef of Rialto, broke away from the Sapphire Group a few years ago, Rialto moved very deliberately into a more Italian idiom (in contrast to the less focused mix of New England and Italian and general Mediterranean). And I happen to think it's excellent Italian food, especially when Adams is in the kitchen.

                                    Also: Salts is pretty darned French, in my book.

                                    1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                      I agree that Rialto thinks of itself as an Italian restaurant, but is it? Look at this menu from Rialto. Italian? Via Matta is Italian.
                                      www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                      Mushroom stuffed cabbage…chervil spatzle, celery root, mustard 26

                                      Icelandic char… quinoa, hops, sunburst trout roe 32

                                      Seared scallops… parsnip, almond, bitter orange 37

                                      Butter poached lobster… cauliflower, golden raisins, capers 42

                                      Lamb chops and meatballs… fennel, quince, rosemary potatoes 39

                                      Grilled boar chop… squash, kale, beans, pomegranate 34

                                      Quail stuffed with gorgonzola… lardo, trevisano, figs 33

                                      Roasted breast and braised chicken thigh… squash crespelle, pancetta, mascarpone 28

                                      Slow roasted duck… escarole, roasted fingerlings, Sicilian olives 36

                                      Grilled Pineland Farms sirloin steak… portabella, arugula,
                                      Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle oil 43

                                      -----
                                      Via Matta
                                      79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

                                      1. re: scotty27

                                        Except for the seafood, those all look like Northern Italian dishes to me, e.g., the steak and boar chop look like Tuscan preparations. One might argue that a Northern Italian might be more likely to stuff cabbage with a meat mixture than mushrooms, but Adams is clearly not going for a super-traditional approach.

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          Mushroom stuffed cabbage…chervil spatzle, celery root, mustard 26

                                          Icelandic char… quinoa, hops, sunburst trout roe 32

                                          Seared scallops… parsnip, almond, bitter orange 37

                                          Butter poached lobster… cauliflower, golden raisins, capers 42

                                          Lamb chops and meatballs… fennel, quince, rosemary potatoes 39

                                          Grilled boar chop… squash, kale, beans, pomegranate 34

                                          Quail stuffed with gorgonzola… lardo, trevisano, figs 33

                                          Roasted breast and braised chicken thigh… squash crespelle, pancetta, mascarpone 28

                                          Slow roasted duck… escarole, roasted fingerlings, Sicilian olives 36

                                          Grilled Pineland Farms sirloin steak… portabella, arugula,
                                          Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle oil 43

                                          Well, let's agree to disagree on this one.
                                          Portabella in Tuscany, for example? It's not a matter of tradition, but a cheap mushroom when porcini would be so much more obviously tastier. Lamb chops and meatballs? Less said the better.

                                          But on a pleasant note: The bar is really fun at Rialto! No place better for a drink.
                                          www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                          1. re: scotty27

                                            "The bar is really fun at Rialto! No place better for a drink."

                                            I actually find it kind of depressing, older Cambridge singles crowd, but if the shoe fits...

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              I'm trying to be pleasant. I can't say I drink much in bars, but it is a fun place. So are Harvest, Casablanca, Upstairs in the Square. Now...if we could only get the kitchens fired up.
                                              www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                            2. re: scotty27

                                              Yes, as I said, Rialto's is not a super-traditional approach, but still clearly fundamentally Italian in origin. What's wrong with lamb chops and meatballs? I've seen mixed-grill kind of dishes like that all over Italy, again primarily in the North.

                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I see your point. I think what happened, however, is that Rialto was supposed to be Rocca, which is Italian and lower priced, and when that did not happen, it morphed into a luxury restaurant informed by Italian, French, and NE traditions. As far as meatballs go, I agree with Bella-Online: "Meatballs are often hard to find in Italy. Polpette are generally found in Southern Italy, but not with pasta. They are served as a second course. It was when spaghetti and meatballs were brought to the US by Italian immigrants that the two were combined." Mixed grill in Italy is usually offal, sausages, funny cuts of meat, but grilled polpette? Mai. That said, I maintain that Rialto has a fun bar and serves decent hotel food.
                                                www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                1. re: scotty27

                                                  That spaghetti and meatballs isn't a traditional Italian dish is not a newsflash, at least not on Chowhound. But I don't agree with your take on the Italian mixed grill. I've seen it many different ways: small chops, sausages, salumi, offal, little pounded cutlets and steaks, and yes, meatballs. Not hard to find in Venetian bacari, for one, done on little charcoal grills.

                                                  I'd say Rialto gets away with a luxury-hotel premium on pricing, but calling it hotel food is unduly dismissive.

                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    You're right about polpette served as cichetti in Venice at ombra.
                                                    Jasper White was the one who called Rialto, "the best hotel restaurant in the city." I was quoting him.
                                                    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                    1. re: scotty27

                                                      Here's an obvious point: Jasper called it the best hotel restaurant in the city. You called it "decent hotel food". That's a backhanded diss if I ever heard one.

                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                        You're right. I should have said, "best hotel restaurant."

                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      Hey my Italian in-laws, from Abruzzo and Campobasso (not Italian American, but living in Italy now) make meatballs. They often cook them in tomato sauce. Serve the sauce on pasta, then serve the meatballs as the secondi.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        Sounds delicious. When are we invited?
                                                        www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                        1. re: scotty27

                                                          The made from scratch (pasta) for lasagna for Christmas (day) dinner is already in the works. Seven fishes from New Deal for Christmas eve.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Yeah, it's fish here Christmas Eve, too. Which reminds me: NEW DEAL FISH on Cambridge Street. This store is by far the best fish store on the East Coast. You want Italian? The owner's people are from Gaeta. This is Italian.
                                                            www.shrinkinthekitchen

                                                            1. re: scotty27

                                                              My favorite Italian in the city: Rialto (sorry, but it reminds me of food I've eaten all over Italy!), Via Matta, Faison-era Rocca, and maybe—just maybe—what the chef who started a couple months ago is doing at Bina Osteria.

                                                              For that last one, I hope this one's the charm that finally breaks the post–Brian Konefal curse.

                                                              -----
                                                              Via Matta
                                                              79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

                                                              Bina Osteria
                                                              581 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                                              1. re: scotty27

                                                                Man- the piling on is furious here- I say- let him live.

                                        2. Also, this is a city where the best restaurants have traditionally happened to live at hotels, so calling something a "hotel restaurant" doesn't seem all that useful.

                                          1. For French basic, Central Kitchen can't be beat!

                                            -----
                                            Central Kitchen
                                            567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                            1. Thanks for the posts. If I must cross the river, I've found the classiques @ Pierrot on Cambridge St a short walk from the Charles MGH T. Hate traveling to Boston by car!
                                              I'm sticking with Gran Gusto which never dissapoints and I can walk to.
                                              Maybe one day a truly classic french bistro will open up in Cambridge.
                                              As for the Blanquette De Veau. We'll be cooking at home this winter.

                                              -----
                                              Gran Gusto
                                              90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140