Belly Wine Bar/Amelia's
We tried Belly Wine Bar Friday night, followed by dinner at Amelia's Trattoria.
Belly's was a fun, small atmosphere with a pretty lively crowd. I must say they have a small/expensive by the glass menu, and the service was underwhelming. We wanted a bottle of wine, which took 20 minutes at the bar before being served. The bartender seemed pre-occupied with one couple who was talking him up.
I will definitely give it a whirl once again seeing as though I didn't have anything to eat. Reminded me of an over-priced Salty Pig.
Amelia's I have to say was a bit blah too. We were there at 10pm and no one else was in the restaurant. It appeared they were mad we came in for dinner. I will say they have a new meatball menu which pairs with one of the listed pastas. The duck option was delicious, while the fettucine was nothing special.
My wife had their brown sugar gnocci which was served in a pool of olive oil. Had the oil been more reasonable, the gnocci themselves were pretty delicious if you could get it dried off.
Have any others been to either of these spots? I'd love to hear other's experiences.
There is one big difference between Belly and Salty Pig. Belly serves much better wine and food.
The wine prices are not high, unless you're bottom-scraping (which is true at every restaurant - the cheapest bottles are marked up the most). I had a ten-year old Bartolo Mascerello Barolo there for $130 (you might pay that retail), and I recall a Pousse d'Or red burg for under $100. These are two of the best bottles I recall from their list, and both are quite excellent restaurant prices.
(And the by-the-glass menu actually has wines you might want to drink.)
So, I totally agree with mkfisher - Belly is much more a wine lovers place. I'd say it's the only self-designated wine bar in Boston actually worthy of the name.
I also prefer the food at Belly, though perhaps I ordered wrong at Salty Pig. I can't recall a single interesting item from SP, while the duck breast prosciutto (or whatever) and the bone marrow at Belly are, respectively, my favorite new dish in Boston and my favorite bone marrow preparation ever.
EDIT: I should comment on the service, as it's an issue. There was one woman (very short haircut) who knows the wine, the list, what bottles are rattling around in the cellar not on the list, and generally brings a lot of knowledge. Cheerful, insightful, fun to talk to. The other servers, however, seemed to know NOTHING. I mean, when you have to slow down and carefully enunciate wine names and then ultimately reopen the list and point at the bottle you want ("oh, so that's how it's pronounced!")... this doesn't inspire confidence. If you didn't know much about wine, or didn't know what you wanted, these folks would be of no assistance. And that's no way to run a wine bar.
This is the Amelia's by Kendall Square? Had a few lunch meals there and always kind of meh. Not too long ago, this was the one of the few "real restaurants" in the area, so we didn't have many options during work and defaulted there for lunch because is was there. Now a days, there are so many better options in the area.
My husband and I were starving as we passed by Amelia's a couple of months ago so on an impulse we stopped in because the space looked so inviting. We both had the special chard ravioli if I remember correctly. Neither of us loved our meals. It was way too garlicky, but otherwise underseasoned. It also seemed pretty overpriced. It certainly didn't seem like a $100 meal. There are better options in the neighborhood so we won't be back.
From my searching, it appears to be related to Amelia's Kitchen in Teele Square, Somerville. We used to enjoy going there and then the food sort of took a turn south a few years ago -- food seemed uninspired such as the inclusion of frozen vegetable mix when it didn't used to.
I've been to both.
Amelia's is fine, but there are better options to be sure. We've always found the food under seasoned. We walked by about 7pm on Saturday night, and the place was 2/3 full. That's par for the course. I'm not shocked they were dead at 10pm.
Belly had service issues at first to be sure. It has been much better as of late. I have very minimal wine knowledge, so they've always been helpful in steering me to something that I may like. We usually get some of the meats, and one cheese (we love the butter). I prefer the Salty Pig, but the menu and drink list (they have more beer) steers much more towards my liking. I'd suspect wine lovers might disagree.