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Mamma Maria or Rialto?

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Hounds,

Any thoughts on which restaurant you would choose for your work holiday party? Both Italian fare with full bars, but very different in terms of flavors, ambiance, location, etc. We could walk to MM, but folks are willing to drive and park in Harvard, too. I've been to Rialto, but never to MM, although I know CHers are found of it.

Let's say, all things being equal, is there a hands down favorite? Both restaurants can accommodate the size of our group nicely.

Thanks for your input!!

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  1. Mamma Maria is more old-school, a bit stuffy, with tuxedoed waiters and pretty traditional Northern Italian food. But I've had good experiences there with private parties, and it is a cool old space.

    I prefer Rialto's more inventive and modern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, and the bartending is better, though I frankly thought the ambience was prettier before the dining room makeover of a few years back.

    Tough call, as better food is usually my bottom line, but walkability strikes me as a big bonus for a holiday party.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Thanks MC, all great points, as always! My one concern with Rialto was the ambiance, which might make a difference given the holiday-ness of it all...

      1. re: nelliewang

        Don't get me wrong: I think Rialto is a nice-looking, modern room. http://www.rialto-restaurant.com/priv... I just don't think the makeover was an improvement.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    2. I haven't been to Rialto, but I think the ambiance at MM would be perfect for the holidays. It's so charming and cozy. And I love the food.

      1. Proximity to MM is always appealing, but wouldn't make my choice based on that. Rialto would still be my choice, hands down. I'm not wild about MM. Parking is no problem at Rialto using the garage below the hotel... perhaps even arrange to take care of the parking charge for your employees. Keep in mind that your employees may work close to MM, but I presume they will still be driving as they most likely don't live near MM. Rialto has been around for a long time and is often overlooked. I think that is a good call that your emps will find a nice treat.

        3 Replies
        1. re: WineAG

          Rialto always seems busy so while it is not of interest to people on this board; it get plenty of attention.

          Since I eat there about once per month, I am suprised it does not get much attention here.

          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

            Made my annual pilgrimage to Rialto for Adams's fisherman's soup, a really fine rendition of Proven├žal soupe de poissons, a few weeks ago.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              i agree, and i like the island creek oysters for a buck on Mondays.

        2. Both are great in different ways. For me, MM would be a no brainer based on the walkability.