About Al Fresco Eateries
Massachusetts has at last said goodbye to winter (aka “Polar Vortex”) to welcome green foliage and blue skies.
While the weather is pleasant, why not move mealtime to an outdoor setting? In Italian, al fresco translates to “in the open air,” and there happen to be a handful of restaurants that grant their customers the opportunity to eat this way.
(And if you love al fresco eateries, check out this recipe book for the best summer weather dishes!)
Take a look at the following roundup of al fresco restaurants that live up to their name.
1 Bennett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
The restaurant sprung onto the dining scene almost 15 years ago yet has somehow managed to keep the Cambridge crowd interested all these years.
Could it be their drinks? It’s probably their drinks.
Don’t underestimate the craftspeople behind some of the tastiest adult beverages Henrietta’s has to offer.
A peek at their Facebook page reveals a wide range of beverages practically begging to be sipped on their spacious outdoor patio.
They’re a perfect way to beat the heat; when summer gets too “summer-y,” but you’re still eager to eat al fresco.
Not very many restaurants know how to match Henrietta’s festiveness.
Visit on a holiday and you may find they’ve cranked out a beverage appropriate for the celebration, as they did with The Patriot, their Memorial Day cocktail that blended raspberry rum mix with Blue Curacao, Malibu Rum, and Coco Lopez.
Henrietta’s has recently served what they call a Lychée and Raspberry Margarita Cocktail.
Served in a chilled wine glass and made with tequila, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice, a raspberry puree floater, and lychée puree, this drink is every berry-and-alcohol-lover’s dream.
Those not fond of adult beverages are welcome to enjoy another favorite beat-the-heat treat: ice cream.
Henrietta’s offers the Taza Chocolate Graham Cracker parfait, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled in cocoa nibs, which are dried, roasted, and crushed cocoa beans.
If you’re looking for a place to soak up sun and sip unique and delicious drinks, Henrietta’s Table can probably help.
Go alone or invite some friends—whatever you do, just be prepared to order more than one cocktail.
Restaurant dante: my pick for al fresco
40 Edwin H Land Boulevard
Cambridge, MA 02142
Another hotel treasure is Italian al fresco eatery Restaurant dante, which resides within the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
Have you ever visited a restaurant so classy that it keeps a couch on its patio? Probably not. But patio season here at dante is more than a time for warm weather, outdoor couches, and sunshine.
Restaurant hours are usually 5:30 PM to 10 PM. This little window of time allows couples to spend romantic evenings on the patio.
Guests admire dante’s view of the city and the Charles River, which calmly flows past the edge of the docks.
When Fourth of July rolls around and you don’t feel like heading to the party host’s house this year, make a reservation at dante instead for their Fourth of July Beer Dinner. The dinner features beer, of course, but also wonderful Italian-American cuisine.
Last year’s event was a major success. The beers provided at dinner were courtesy of the respected Dogfish Head Brewery. On its Facebook page, dante even shared a photo of the Dogfish Head candidates for the upcoming dinner.
Hors d’oeuvres included porcini mushroom arancini and hot dog paninis, and there were mouth-watering entrées like shrimp scampi, sausage with fresh peppers and onions, and roasted veal breast.
Couple that with an outdoor couch overlooking the Charles River and one won’t have to think twice about making a reservation!
No romantic evening at dante is complete without an upscale dessert. Snag some sweets like their creamy tiramisu, made with a traditional recipe.
You could also share a plate of torta al ciocoltorta al ciocoato, a chocolate hazelnut mousse cake. On the really hot nights (pun unintended) you can dig into some classic gelato or sorbetto of assorted flavors.
134 Hampshire Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Arabic-influenced cuisine is fairly difficult to find, and discovering good Arabic cuisine is worth a medal of honor. Luckily, there’s Oleana in Cambridge, specifically Inman Square, to provide a delicious menu and a gorgeous outdoor dining experience.
This restaurant is home to the “world’s best hummus,” as one overjoyed customer put it, but it’s also home to the comfiest, most elegant patio area in Cambridge.
The scenery is very green; plants grow in thick bushes surrounding the dining area, kindling a oneness with nature rarely found at other eateries. In fact, Oleana is so proud of its beautiful “backyard” that it’s begun to host weddings there.
Oleana: the land of light and tasty meals (at least if that’s what you’re craving).
Guests are extremely receptive to the small plates on the menu, those finds that are composed of the freshest ingredients and sit warmly in the stomach.
There are plates of spinach falafel gently topped with Tahini sauce, beet yogurt, and cress. It’s the perfectly delicate meal for a summer day.
A new presence on the menu was created by Oleana’s Chef Cara. This colorful dish features scallops, spring pea salad, pickled sunchoke, and almond crumb.
And worry not about where the greens in your dinner came from. Oleana has attributed the deliciousness of their produce menu items to Siena Farms (and has even encouraged guests to partake in their 2014 CSA).
If you’re looking to dive head-first into the summer, take in the peacefulness of a petite patio, and, of course, chow down, head to Oleana the next time the sun shines.
The next time the temps are high and you’re looking for a place to dine, don’t hesitate to drop by these restaurants for a comfortable al fresco eateries experience!
– Jeannine Hennawi, Contributing Writer