Monday, July 8, 2024

Non-Rant: Selecting A Special Occasion Restaurant

Which restaurant should you choose for a special occasion? It's a question I've been pondering for the last couple weeks, as I decide which restaurant I'll visit for my own special occasion at the end of this week. 

The answer isn't always easy, and will depend on many different factors, from price to cuisine. It's a question I've often seen asked on numerous forums, and a question I've been asked by many people. I want to offer Ten Restaurant Recommendations, which will fit a variety of needs, places which I find to be consistently good and definitely worthy of your patronage. These are places I especially love, and which I've also recommended to many others. 

I also want to note that my list only includes restaurants located outside of Boston. There are plenty of lists of Boston restaurants, but far fewer for those outside of it. In addition, this list is far from comprehensive, but is more just a small selection of some of my favorites. 

When considering where to celebrate your special occasion, there's a number of questions you should ask yourself, to help narrow down the possibilities. How much do you want to spend? Do you want to splurge, or be more economical in your choice? Will your celebration be for breakfast, lunch or dinner? How many people will be celebrating with you? Is there a specific type of cuisine that you desire? Are you looking for a more intimate venue? Will you be accompanied by children? Does anyone in your group have any dietary restrictions? Do you want an excellent wine list or a large selection of beers on tap? And there's even more questions you can ask as well.

As you consider these questions, and others, here's my top suggestions. And I'll be celebrating later this week at one of these ten restaurants.

Nightshade Noodle Bar (Lynn): For a splurge, Nightshade offers inventive and delicious French/Vietnamese inspired-cuisine, with their own unique spin, in multi-course tasting menus. Its wine and cocktail program is also excellent. It's a more intimate spot and is one of my Top Three Favorite restaurants. I'll be dining there later this month celebrating one of my own special occasions. As it's very popular, try to make reservations as far ahead as possible. 

The Bancroft (Burlington): Also for a splurge, and for either lunch or dinner, the Bancroft is one of my favorite steakhouses. I've dined there most often for lunch for special occasions, and those lunches have always been excellent. Steak may be their speciality but you'll find plenty of other delicious dishes, from Fried Clams to a Duck Confit Sandwich. 

Pellana Prime Steakhouse (Peabody): Pellana is another classic steakhouse, a place to splurge, with an excellent wine list. Sure, you could easily go to one of the chain steakhouses, but these more independent places will surprise you with their quality. 

Ithaki (Peabody): This Greek restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and most everything has a Greek flair. The food is delicious, and portion-size is often ample and reasonably priced. They offer numerous Greek wines on their list, and I recommend you check out those wines instead of the usual suspects from California and France. 

Row 34 (Burlington): For both lunch and dinner, this is a great spot for fresh seafood, from oysters to tuna crudo, from fried clams to lobster rolls. Their lunch menu even has an excellent Tuna Melt! They also have a very good wine list and creative cocktails. I've celebrated here a number of times, for both lunch and dinner.

A Tavola (Winchester): For a more intimate spot for dinner, and which serves excellent Italian cuisine, check out A Tavola. Their home-made pasta is superb, and you can also find some intriguing and delicious specials, from chicken fried quail to duck wings. Their Italian cuisine is as good as anything you'll find in the North End. Their wine list concentrates on Italian wines, and there are many very good choices. Plus, they have recently expanded their size, adding a wine bar and additional seating. 

Il Ponte (Woburn): Another intimate, Italian restaurant, with killer home-made pasta, amazing Neapolitan pizza, and plenty of other delicious dishes. Again, this is a restaurant with Italian cuisine as good as anything you'll find in the North End. It has a primarily Italian wine list, with some high-end wines available by the glass. Excellent hospitality, a charming chef/owner, and everyone I've recommended has been thoroughly impressed by the restaurant. 

Tambo 22 (Chelsea): For a splurge, and a more unique cuisine, check out this Peruvian restaurant. It's also a more intimate spot, and should impress your celebrants. The food is delicious, interesting, and hearty. They also have a full drinks program, including numerous Peruvian spirits and a variety of Pisco Sour cocktails.

Prince Pizzeria (Saugus): This restaurant has existed on Route 1 for 60 years, and is a place I've been going to since I was a child. It's a large, casual spot for pizza and Italian cuisine, and its tasty pizza is basically its own unique and delicious style. You can easily book a large celebratory party, at a reasonable price, here. It's a very family friendly spot, and everyone from children to adults loves pizza so it's a great choice for all. 

Nick & Andy's (Danvers): Sometimes, you want a breakfast celebration, and my top choice for such would be Nick & Andy's. The food is fresh, delicious and there's plenty of variety. Try their fresh-baked muffins or hash browns (which are tougher to find locally). Prices are reasonable and service is very good. 

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