Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Allora Ristorante

139 Lakeside Avenue (Route 20), Marlborough, MA 01752
(508) 485-4300 Find location!

Photo of Allora Ristorante, Marlborough, MA The terms "upscale Mediterranean" and "suburban Boston" don't usually seem to go hand-in-hand, but there is a restaurant in Marlborough that may just change that. Allora Ristorante, a lakeside dining spot located just west of the city center, indeed seems like the kind of place you might find in the South End of Boston or perhaps one of the more restaurant-rich neighborhoods of Cambridge or Brookline. But no, this dining spot is found near the intersection of Routes 20 and 495 about 45 minutes west of Beantown. Don't let the location of Allora fool you, though; this is a place with seriously good eats.

Allora Ristorante is a good-sized restaurant (in this respect, you can tell that you're not dining in Boston proper) and it is made even larger in the warmer months thanks to a comfortable outside deck that affords views of Lake Williams across the street. The waitstaff is both professional and personable, making the rounds through both the classy-looking indoor dining area and the outdoor deck, bringing homemade dishes to patrons that include mostly Mediterranean, Italian, and New American cuisine.

Some of the items that can be found on the menu at Allora include excellent soups and salads for starters, with the sweet-flavored wedding soup with homemade meatballs being a can't-miss item. The Caesar salad is another dish to consider, as it has a slightly heavier than usual anchovy flavor that goes nicely with the greens and the house-made garlic-flavored croutons. The hand-breaded fried mozzarella is a terrific appetizer, and nothing like the greasy mozzarella sticks you might get at a pub. Another appetizer--the spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips--is rich-tasting and very filling, making it a dish best shared unless you're looking to go light for your main course. And speaking of entrees, the house-made sausage rapini is simply marvelous, with loads of flavor (though not much heat) due to the complex mix of herbs and spices. Sausage lovers might also want to opt for the sausage campania, which comes with roasted red peppers, mushrooms, caramelized onions,and house-made fusilli in a marinara sauce. A gooey, creamy lobster macaroni and cheese can also be ordered at Allora, though be forewarned; much like the spinach and artichoke dip, it is so filling that you shouldn't expect to have much room for dessert. A relatively simple dish--linguini with house-made pesto--is made extra special, thanks to the addition of tangy goat cheeese. The stuffed eggplant with the aforementioned fusilli is outstanding, with lots of creamy ricotta inside the eggplant and a zesty tomato sauce mixed with the tender pasta. (There is also a marvelous chicken fusilli dish as well.) For something a bit more unusual, the capellini amatriciana with guanciale (a rich-tasting meat from pig cheeks that tastes a bit like bacon), tomato, pepercino, and shaved parmesan is a perfect dish for those who like savory items. And the pappardelle bolognese is simply wonderful, with a hearty meat sauce and fresh parmesan reggiano going perfectly with the wide ribbons of pasta. Other dishes of note include hand-rolled ricotta gnocchi, osso bucco (veal chop), grilled lamb, swordfish puttanesca, Mediterranean stuffed salmon, and pork tenderloin medallions over risotto. The beer and wine list is excellent, and desserts (including a flavorful tiramisu that comes with strawberries, mint leaves, and chocolate) are fresh and worth saving room for.

Allora is a terrific option for those in the Metrowest area. It may not have the name recognition that some of its fellow Mediterranean restaurants in Boston proper have, and the prices may seem a bit high to those who are used to paying prices more typical of dining spots in the western suburbs, but for those who love freshly made food served in an upscale environment, Allora Ristorante is certainly an excellent choice for anyone who happens to be in or near Marlborough.