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Los Angeles Couple Taking Daughter to BU Needs French or Italian Recomendation

We're from Los Angeles (Bel Air) and moving daughter into new residence for semester in BU. Staying at Commonwealth. Have 2 nights. Have reservations there at the Oyster Bar first night. Looking for recommendation for next night for birthday dinner for wife (along with daughter).

Prefer very good to excellent food and service, lively atmosphere, but not deafening, full bar. Not looking for small bites or heavy sauces. Prefer local sourced, somewhat healthier cuisine.

BTW, wife is insistent on a lobtsa roll for lunch at Neptune Oyster again. Any idea how long a wait I can expect for a Tuesday?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. prezza or erbaluce for italian. the latter is a more casual room, but a very modern take on "italian". the chef does not use cream or butter in any of the dishes and is a fanatic about local sourcing.

    super high-end french would be l'espalier or menton, but they may be a bit more stuffy than what you seek. next step would be bistro du midi, but we do have quite a few places that use french techniques fused with other types of food -- like craigie on main.

    go off-peak for neptune and it shouldn't be too bad. you can give them your cell # and wander around the north end meanwhile.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I keep seeing recommendations for Craigie, but they always seem to rave about the burger ;-) I like a good burger as well as the next guy but what else should I expect?

      1. re: clgbrown

        Craigie is very much creative fine dining, and one of our top places. The fact that they are known for their burgers is weird and has little to do with the restaurant (even though the burgers are, in fact very good).

        1. re: clgbrown

          The burger is only available at the bar (and in limited amount) so if you reserve a table, it's a non-issue.

      2. + 1 to all the selections by hotoynoodle. Only place I would add is Ribelle for Italian. Great food, not overly heavy handed (IMO at least) and an easy 15min direct Green Line (C line) train ride from your hotel.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Matt H

          What's the crowd like at Ribelle?

          1. re: clgbrown

            It is a mixed crowd from what I have noticed, but definitely a louder type room and the crowd skews more to the young side rather that older.

        2. For something unique you might like Oleana in Cambridge. The chef, Ana Sortun, does a great job with her Mediterranean Middle Eastern influenced food. Not very formal but unique and very flavorsome dishes.

          4 Replies
          1. re: RoyRon

            She sources a lot of food from her farm, too - very seasonal!

            1. re: RoyRon

              Looks like it could be fun but I get a lot of that here in L.A.

              1. re: clgbrown

                yeah ... being from LA I suspect the only thing here that you'll find interesting "local sourced" is seafood. Not that that's a bad thing, it's *wonderful* here.

                Consider Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 as alternatives to Neptune.

                1. re: Carty

                  We're staying at the Hotel Commonwealth so I already booking a table for our first night's dinner. Really like the crowd there as well as the food. Neptune is on the list for lunch the next day; assuming we have time.

            2. I agree 100% with hotoynoodle's suggestions based on your requirements. Not sure exactly when you are arriving, but we are in the midst of Restaurant Week (through August 29th). I am unsure of how many of the restaurants hotoynoodle recommended participate in RW, but I would be sure to grab reservations sooner than later once you decide.

              1. If you want something on the elegant/visually beautiful side,with service to match, I'm thinking you might really like Mistral.It is close to Copley Sq. Other suggestions (erbaluce, bistro du midi, prezza...) also have excellent food, but for a memorable space, Mistral wins that hands down.

                9 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  I've also heard good things about Mistral. "Memorable" gets me curious. We will be with my 20 year old daughter so looking for more fun than romantic. Does Mistral fit that bill or would there be better choices with Ribelle, Prezza, Craigie, or Erbaluce?

                  1. re: clgbrown

                    mistral skews to an older crowd and the menu has barely changed in 15 years. no, it most definitely is not a better choice than those others. sorry.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      The menu not changing doesn't affect the OP. It *is* a beautiful room with very good service but pretty expensive. Take a look at the menu. Its sister restaurant Sorellina I think is a little better and has a good vibe. The aforementioned Prezza is good but you'll be in the north end for Neptune. Did you consider Hamersley's in the south end? It's an institution that's closing soon and fits your requirements, although not particularly lively.

                      1. re: total13

                        mistral is beautiful, but frankly i find the look dated at this point and yes it's expensive, but the dishes are "safe" -- nothing that can't be had in an upscale l.a. bistro.

                        i do prefer there to prezza's though.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          eta: should say: i do prefer the service at mistral to that at prezza.

                    2. re: clgbrown

                      for 'fun', that's an easy answer- Ribelle for sure. Great welcoming vibe, open kitchen (as in Right There!)and terrifically unique/inventive food (chef did 6 years at Momofuku.) Excellent bar. Sidewalk patio in a hip bustling new restaurant part of town that would probably be very exciting for her to feel part of.
                      **Just one caveat>> the menu is wicked understated; i.e. the descriptions are at the very most-- Minimalist and you realize that from your first dish. Full of delightful surprises!

                      Ribelle also does Brunch Sat and Sun:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/961421

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Pulled up some pictures from the net; looks like it could get pretty loud in there. Full bar?

                        1. re: clgbrown

                          It can get loud and some people have complained that it is too loud at times. I am not one of them and do not find it overwhelming at all. So opinions differ.

                          Yes, full bar with very good cocktails.

                          1. re: clgbrown

                            We're pretty loud-averse and no, not too loud for us. Also, the front of the space now opens to the outside, which helps too.

                    3. Coppa has wonderful Italian food in a fun environment in the South End.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: marketpeach

                        i love coppa but it does not have a full bar.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Asta is superb food, innovative, and definitely a "destination" restaurant and it is fairly close to your hotel. In my view, it was the best new restaurant to arrive in Boston this year.

                        2. Gaslight (French) & Cinquacente (Ital.), both on Harrison Ave.; Brasserie Jo on Huntington, L'Osteria (North End.

                          1. Davio's in Back Bay meets your Italian requirements. If you want French, perhaps Gaslight in the South End?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: midnightboom

                              Both of these are fine, safe choices, but neither is particularly interesting, nor is the food better than good. I certainly wouldn't rate either as "excellent" at anything other than being a good choice for a business dinner where you're unsure of everyone's comfort with interesting food and level of pickiness.

                              1. re: midnightboom

                                Davios is good. Gaslight's has been horrid the last times I went there. I vowed never to return unless dragged against my will.

                                La Voile or Brasserie Jo would be better choices.

                              2. Brasserie Jo has been around forever, but it's atmosphere is lively, but not deafening. Food and service have always been good when I've been there. If anyone is a chocolate fan you will swoon over the profiteroles on which warm chocolate is poured.