As we begin sampling our way through a new year of exciting dining prospects, we offer our totally subjective list of the best restaurant openings from 2016—in case you missed some.
Area Four Boston
In October, Michael Krupp and Jeff Pond crossed the river from Kendall Square and opened a Boston edition of their wildly popular wood-fired pizza joint. As in Cambridge, Pond’s menu features solely flame-cooked fare, from his signature pizza to meat and vegetable-based dishes. The only drawback we see: Service is limited to dinner!
Recommended Dish: Fernet-braised short rib with coal-roasted root vegetables, butternut squash puree, Fernet jus and gremolata
Chef Tony Susi opened CAPO in Southie almost a year ago. Since then, the rustic-chic little sister to Lincoln Tavern and Loco Taqueria has been wooing Bostonians with gooey globes of burrata, crunchy chicken parm, monkfish piccata and house-made pasta.
Recommended Dish: Swordfish puttanesca with crispy artichokes, capers, garlic, anchovies and olive sugo
East coast oysters and wine are the token order at this favorite-but-tiny after-work spot that opened in June. But there is plenty more to love about this menu rich in depth and breadth of flavors.
Recommended Dish: Fried lobster & waffles with sweet corn butter and spicy maple syrup
Chef-owner Michael Scelfo’s sophomore effort opened on the outskirts of Harvard Square back in August with a focus on coastal seafood, a departure from the “live off the land” vibe at his nearby Alden & Harlow. Dig into the caviar service (served with doughnut holes), fried smelts or any one of a handful of absinthe cocktails.
Recommended Dish: Roasted skate wing with creamed brown rice, roasted delicata squash and fermented cranberries
There has been much chatter about the lobster tank at Patrick’s Lee’s latest addition to his collection of Harvard Square eateries. Not only does said tank hold up to 200 pounds of live lobsters, chef Taryn Bonnefoi devotes a whole section of the menu to the regional delicacy.
Recommended Dish: Lobster pie with potatoes and mushrooms wrapped up in a flaky pastry
Bon Appétit magazine saw fit to bestow chef and co-owner Josh Lewin’s Somerville hot spot with the honor of Best New Restaurant (at least one of them), which definitely validates our opinion. Do: Make a reservation. Don’t: show up late; you’ll regret it.
Recommended Dish: Prime rib with seasoned vegetables, jus and a horseradish turmeric condiment
Oak & Rowan
After months of anticipation, locals finally got to sample Nancy Batista-Caswell’s first city restaurant in November. The menu remains nothing short of inventive, unusual and delicious.
Recommended Dish: Squid ink farfalle with pheasant confit, lemon and uni
PABU Boston at Millennium Tower
Start a meal at co-owners Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga’s swanky izakaya with a Happy Spoon, a one-bite burst of flavor. Follow it up with Tokyo fried chicken karaage, the okonomiyaki, hon hamachi and a piece of steak on the robata grill, which finishes cooking at the table. The selection of Japanese whiskeys is another experience entirely—one brown liquor fans should not miss.
Recommended Dish: Tasting of robata, featuring two skewers of the chef's favorite cuts
Team Oringer (Ken) Bissonnette (Jamie) hit another home run with their most recent small plates endeavor, this time meshing global flavors with pig-out favorites.
Recommended Dish: Octopus a la plancha with charred onion vinaigrette and potato tostones
The March debut of Jody Adams’ fast-casual, Greek-inspired lunch counter almost made up for the closure of her legendary Rialto. When hunger pangs strike we head to the Fenway and wrap our hands around one of her pitas, chockablock with meaty bits and delicious extras.
Recommended Dish: The Herc pita with honey-garlic pork shoulder and spicy whipped feta
If a post-holiday gut bulge is about to burst the button off your skinny jeans, you may find there’s just no room for indulging in the new year. And yet, you must make room for victuals gathered at Eataly Boston, which opened at Prudential Center just after Thanksgiving. The Turin import, by way of New York City, is an Italian-themed market-restaurant hybrid of every foodie’s dreams. Dine in, take out, eat as you wander. From Rossopomodoro pizzas to Lavazza lattes to locally caught seafood. The list goes on and on and on.
Recommended Dish: Quadrati, house-made ravioli with local ricotta and spinach, finished with lemon butter and pistachio (order it at Rossopomodoro)