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Advice needed for a special dinner! [repost]

Hi, I'm reposting b/c I originally posted late Friday and only got one reply, so I'm hoping it's just that everyone was having a good weekend and not that my question sucked. :)

I am getting together with my 2 best friends from college [we graduated 20+ years ago and are still friends but see each other only once or twice a year] and staying overnight in Boston, probably at the Hilton in the Financial District, partially b/c it's near the North End. I've got a bunch of possible restaurants for our dinner bouncing around in my head and I've looked at so many menus that I can't remember which was which, and I thought maybe you lovely people could at least narrow it down for me. Two of us are pretty adventurous, one not as much but not terrible either. Would like to be able to hear each other talk but doesn't have to be super quiet. We want to be able to make a reservation and not waste our precious time together waiting for a table. Here's what I'm thinking so far: [and am open to other suggestions as well]

Erbaluce
Lucca
Mamma Maria's
Prezza
Sel de la Terre
Strega
Taranta
Trattoria di Monica
Tresca

Of these I have only been to Prezza and Sel de la Terre, and it's been ages since I've been to either. Would love any and all advice...thanks in advance!

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  1. While I love Monica's, the trattoria probably isn't a good option for you. It's a really tight space that can get quite loud

    1 Reply
    1. re: mkfisher

      While the Trattoria is small, the larger venue on Richmond Street might also fit the bill. The homemade pasta ther is very good and thay have a very nice wine list. Overall, your list is really pretty good although I would strike Tresca which is just OK and Strega which imho is a trap and a money pit. Prezza is my favorite but not all that quiet but you should easily be able to chat without much problem.

      -----
      Vinoteca di Monica
      143 Richmond St., Boston, MA 02109

    2. Erbaluce and Prezza get the most CH raves on this board( though i am not a Prezza fan)followed by Mamma Maria. If you decide on seafood, Island Creek Oyster Bar (Kenmore Sq) has a huge fan base on this board (incl. me); the room somehow breathes 'festive' and service is excellent.

      1. How is Bina Osteria these days? That is pretty close to their hotel and at one time was at least on par with several of the North End places.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Bina Osteria is near Downtown Crossing/Theater Distict, not so close to the Hilton in the Financial District although neither is Erbaluce. Is it ppossible you meant L'osteria in the North End?

          1. re: Northender

            No, was thinking of Bina. Bina is roughly the same distance to the Hilton as the Hilton is to the North End.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Ok, I will measure on my walk home tonight! lol

        2. I know you said you need reservations, but you might want to consider lunch at Neptune oyster in the North End. They open at 11:30 and if you are open to early ish lunch, you should be able to get seated quickly.

          1. If it were me and my two college buddies, I'd go to Erbaluce. Options for the adventuresome, yet enough traditional items. If you call and talk to them, and explain why it is a special night, they will go out of their way to treat you well, without getting all sappy on you.

            Taranta is very good, but it is so crowded on weeknights, that I can't even imagine a Saturday.
            Sel de la Terre is not special enough. And they are subject to nights where they just can't get it together and epic-ly fail.
            Prezza is very good, with elegant service and atmosphere - but it is like every other high type northern Italian restaurant out there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bgavin

              You might consider Blue, which is new, innovative, and near the Hilton if my memory is correct. It is considerably different than the North End options. I am a fan of Erbaluce's food, but I don't find the room festive at all. If I wanted a quiet and elegant North End option, I'd opt for Mama Maria.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                Blue Inc. is incredibly loud. Definitely not a place for a nice conversation.

                1. re: mkfisher

                  I went to Erbaluce for a birthday dinner and found it fairly loud as well and it did not feel like a "special" dinner. The room felt odd and the food was just ok (based on the reviews here I was expecting wow).

              2. re: bgavin

                I have been to Taranta on many Saturday nights. It has a three floors, all of which are only in use on the weekends.