Globe Magazine

Where do food pros like Gordon Hamersley eat in Boston?

Veterans of the Boston-area dining scene reminisce about restaurants from Boston’s past and recommend the spots that keep them coming back.

Marilyn (left) and Sheila Brass, hosts of “Food Flirts” on PBS.
Michael Piazza
Marilyn (left) and Sheila Brass, hosts of “Food Flirts” on PBS.

Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass

Hosts, “Food Flirts” on PBS; cookbook authors

Marilynn Brass: “One of our all-time favorites is The Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery in Somerville [opened 1983]. They have Portuguese food, and the best waffles I’ve ever had. We believe that it’s not just what you put on the table, it’s what you bring to the table.”

Guaracyara Pimenta

Chef, Les Zygomates

“Ambrosia on Huntington [1993–2003] is where I learned how to cook. Everything about Ambrosia inspired me. I came from the military. The kitchen was set up military-style, from the respect we had with the chef to the way the kitchen was run. Everything had to be perfect, clean, and organized. I try to act that way in the kitchen today.”

Christopher Kimball

Founder, Milk Street; cofounder and former host, “America’s Test Kitchen”

Christopher Kimball The credit is just, "courtesy of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street."
from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
Christopher Kimball, founder of Milk Street.

“I take my kids to No. 9 Park [opened 1998] the week before Christmas, and we always eat at the window overlooking the Common. I love Oleana [opened 2001]. The use of spices is terrific  —  the idea of combining bitter with sweet, or using different textures.”

Gordon Hamersley

Chef/co-owner, Hamersley’s Bistro (1987–2014)

1/05/15 - Sudbury, MA - This is chef and author Gordon Hammersley, cq, in his home kitchen in Sudbury, MA on Monday, January 5, 2015. Images to accompany Gordon Hammersley step-by-step recipe for how to make mac and blue cheese squares. Item: 14hamersleypix. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff.
Dina Rudick/Globe staff/File
Gordon Hamersley, who closed Hamersley’s Bistro in 2014.

“There are four restaurants that I think made a huge impression on the Boston dining scene. Maison Robert [1971–2004] was a very elegant, old-fashioned, classic French restaurant. Lucien Robert was a master at maintaining that wonderful French elegance. Jasper’s [1983–95] was one of the first restaurants I went to when I got back from living in France. Until Jasper’s, it was hard to find an elegant, fish-centric restaurant in town. Jasper White’s food was very simple and very elegant, and I tried to cook this way when I opened my restaurant. UpStairs at the Pudding [1982–2013]  —  I remember being really impressed with the flavors that came off that grill. Biba [1989–2002], for its time, was one of the best restaurants in the United States. Lydia Shire’s cooking was just a wonderful celebration of all things worldwide. Lydia is a unique cook and has great spirit, and that just flowed throughout the entire restaurant.”

Barbara Lynch

Owner, No. 9 Park, SpoRtello, and more

Boston, MA -- 12/07/2017 - Barbara Lynch, James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef and restauranteur speaks on a panel at The Massachusetts Conference For Women. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) Topic: Names Reporter:
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff/File
Restaurateur Barbara Lynch.
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“Many of my longtime favorites are long gone now, but one that I have great memories from was Anthony’s Pier 4 [1963–2013]. Back in the day, my executive wine director Cat Silirie and I would sit at the bar there drinking wine and eating soft-shell crab sandwiches. Marliave [opened 1885] was, and still is, a landmark, too. Now my go-tos for classics are Amrheins [1890] in Southie and Neptune Oyster [2004] in the North End.”

Rich Barron

Owner and chef, Il Capriccio

Rich Barron from Il Capriccio. credit Nahatai Harris
Nahatai Harris
Rich Barron, owner of Il Capriccio in Waltham.

“I miss Gordon Hamersley. We’ve often been compared to Hamersley’s Bistro (1987–2014) as far as our style of food and service goes. Our style of food actually comes from Le Bocage [mid-1970s to 2001]. The simplicity of the food, the cleanness of the food, the freshness of the food — that was all new stuff back in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Jessica Biederman

Chef, Bristol Restaurant and Bar

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the Bristol [opened 1985] is my favorite, because that’s honestly the truth! The Barking Crab [1994], Santarpio’s Pizza [1903], Sam LaGrassa’s [1968], and the Union Oyster House [1826] are also all longstanding favorites. Then you also have The Warren Tavern [1780], which is a great watering hole. Union Oyster House and Parker’s Restaurant in the Omni Parker House [1855] are just iconic and historic, which is always special.”

Mary-Catherine Deibel

Co-owner, UpStairs at the Pudding/UpStairs on the Square (1982–2013)

Mary-Catherine Deibel Credit to come
Mary-Catherine Deibel, who co-owned UpStairs at the Pudding/UpStairs on the Square.

“I miss Gordon Hamersley’s iconic roast chicken at Hamersley’s Bistro [1987-2014]. At Oleana [opened 2001], I love the deviled eggs and the baked Alaska. At Biba [1989-2002], I loved Lydia Shire’s sweetbreads. [UpStairs co-owner] Deborah Hughes and I used to hang out on Friday nights, after we got off our own restaurant. We used to go to the bar at Biba. We were constantly going to other restaurants, and we would turn over the plates and examine the barware to see how other people ran restaurants.”

Nicole DeFeudis is a Globe Magazine correspondent. Send comments to Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.