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    Summer Entertaining

    9 amazing private dining rooms for entertaining

    Nine amazing restaurant private dining rooms for entertaining with a personal touch--but without the shopping, cooking, or cleanup.

    Guests at Grill 23 Bar & Grill.
    Brian Feulner
    Guests at Grill 23 Bar & Grill.

    Private dining has a hush-hush air about it, and for good reason. It usually costs serious money to put on this kind of special-occasion get-together. So, what can you, the host, expect to get for the expense? A planned menu that, depending on where you choose to go, may be based on the restaurant’s menu, built around your own preferences, or made up by the chef with no input from the host. You often get a server or servers dedicated to your party. And then there’s the space. It feels special to whisk your guests away from the noise of a main dining area to a room and table decorated and set just for your party. (Some spaces, such as The Table at Season to Taste, aren’t even open to the public most of the time.) And, of course, not even the host has to cook, fuss over details, or clean up anything. Now that’s a party.

    GRILL 23 & BAR

    161 Berkeley Street, Back Bay, 617-896-1049, grill23.com

    This steakhouse (though it’s also known for its seafood) is a 25-year-old Boston tradition. Its smallest private dining room, the Trading Room, seats 10 to 16, though there are seven rooms total, and groups can be quite large. The place is decorated in dark mahogany and marble — think old-school boardroom elegance, but without the cigars.

    THE FINE PRINT

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    No room fee; minimum cost per person is $88 (not including beverages, tax, 5 percent administration fee, and 16 percent gratuity); smallest party is 10.

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    10 Center Street.

    10 CENTER STREET

    10 Center Street, Newburyport, 978-462-6652, tencenterstreet.com 

    In coastal Newburyport’s most charming fine-dining restaurant, New England fish and seafood are, of course, the focus, along with local farm-to-table cuisine. Sit in the cozy, private Garden Room with 25 to 70 guests for a contemporary American feast.

     THE FINE PRINT

    $200 room fee, plus $30 to $44 per person for food (not including beverages, tax, or gratuity).

    Au Soleil Caterng/Apple Street Farm
    Apple Street Farm

    APPLE STREET FARM

    35 Apple Street, Essex, 617-535-6040 (make a reservation with Au Soleil Catering), applestreetfarm.com 

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    It’s a foodie’s ultimate experience: a dinner prepared by L’Espalier chef Frank McClelland at his own 13-acre farm made from veggies, eggs, even fowl raised right there in Essex along with locally sourced fish and meat. Groups between 20 and 300 can enjoy New England’s bounty in a scene that’s a little more rustic than the Boston restaurant, and the food is just as spectacular. (So’s your bill at the end of the night.)

     THE FINE PRINT

    $1,500 rental fee for groups of fewer than 100 (the tent fee, as needed, is $1,500), plus $75 to $200 per person for food and wine (not including tax and gratuity).

    BLUE GINGER

    583 Washington Street, Wellesley, 781-283-5790, ming.com/blueginger

    PBS star chef Ming Tsai became famous for his own brand of high-end creative Asian cuisine, and that’s what is served every night at Blue Ginger. (The tea-smoked salmon and beef carpaccio appetizer is a good example.) But a busy filming schedule doesn’t mean Tsai can’t be found in his Wellesley restaurant a few nights a week. For private-dining guests, if he’s available, Tsai will sometimes do a quick cooking demo.

     THE FINE PRINT

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    No room fee; minimum cost for 20 guests is $1,000 for food and wine (not including tax and gratuity).

    Josh Campbell
    Catalyst.

    CATALYST

    300 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-576-3000, catalystrestaurant.com

    Feel like a Facebook millionaire in a sleek, modern dining room with views of a grassy common used by Kendall Square entrepreneurs. A typical special at this contemporary American restaurant: cavatelli with English peas, lemon, and mint. Private rooms seat parties as small as six.

    THE FINE PRINT

    $50 to $300 room fee; minimum cost is $500 for food and beverages (not including tax and gratuity).

    MAMMA MARIA

    3 North Square, North End, 617-523-0077, mammamaria.com

    In a brick row house on a quiet square, Mamma Maria, with its five dining rooms, feels like a club. The food is high-end Italian — think vin santo-glazed suckling pig with beets and farro, a little fancier than Mama used to make. You can book a tiny room for four and order off the menu. Or host up to 28 guests in the La Terrazza room, which has windows on three sides.

    THE FINE PRINT

    No room fee; depending on the day of the week, larger rooms have a $500 to $3,000 minimum for food and beverages (not including tax and gratuity).

    SUMMER WINTER

    Burlington Marriott, 1 Mall Road, Burlington, 781-221-6643, summerwinterrestaurant.com/index.cfm

    It’s hard to get a salad fresher than one grown in Summer Winter’s on-site greenhouse. Well-known chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier also run Arrows Restaurant and MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine, so they’re not always in Burlington whipping up whole fried trout with black bean sauce or blueberry upside-down cake. They do cook for private parties on occasion, though. Groups of any size up to 35 can sit in the private dining room.

    THE FINE PRINT

    No room fee; no matter how many are in your party, there’s an $1,800 minimum for food and beverages (not including tax and 20 percent gratuity).

    THE TABLE AT SEASON TO TASTE

    2447 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-826-9037, seasontotastecatering.com 

    Chef Robert Harris calls the catering kitchen where he also gives elegant dinner parties for groups of 8 to 12 the “world’s smallest reservation-only restaurant,” and it certainly is intimate. Harris makes what’s good right now — local, seasonal — and does it right in front of his diners. Book now for October and beyond; he’s taking the summer off from private dinners.

    THE FINE PRINT

    No room fee; $75 or $100 per person (for six or nine courses, respectively) for a tasting menu the chef creates (not including wine, tax, or gratuity).

     

    TOSCA

    14 North Street, Hingham, 781-740-0080, toscahingham.com

    There’s a reason that Tosca gets busy on the weekends. Well, several: swordfish oreganato, wood-grilled duck breast, lobster chowder, wild-boar bolognese. Two private rooms are available for dinners at this Hingham restaurant. 

    THE FINE PRINT

    Up to $250 room fee, plus $46 to $56 per person for food (not including beverages, tax, and gratuity).