There are some restaurants in Boston that have a near-cult following among restaurant critics and diners in the know, but are virtually unknown to the rest of the population. Dining spots such as King Fung Garden in Chinatown, Cafe Polonia in South Boston, and a handful of others fit in this category, as well as a tiny basement restaurant on the back side of Beacon Hill that is easy to miss, but oh so good. And while Grotto might not be on many people's radar, it is perhaps one of the best restaurants in Boston for the money, and a place that lovers of Mediterranean and Italian food should definitely seek out.
Grotto is a rather unassuming place from the outside (in fact, if it weren't for the sign above the entrance that says "Grotto," it would be difficult to even realize that this is a restaurant. The plain exterior belies the fact that the interior is as sultry, seductive, and inviting as you will find in all of Beacon Hill (with all due respect to Lala Rokh. The red walls, exposed brick, and attractive paintings add an exotic feel to Grotto, and like Lala Rokh, turn an otherwise ordinary basement location into something incredibly romantic.
The menu at Grotto has something for everyone, including spaghetti and meatballs for less daring folks, and bacon-wrapped apple-stuffed duck breast and crispy duck leg for those looking for something a bit more high-end. There are some wonderful items at Grotto, including a decadently creamy garlic and black truffle soup; a terrific chicken saltimbocca with ham, gnocchi, and mushrooms; and a dish that seems to be the talk of the town--potato gnocchi with short ribs, mushrooms, and gorgonzola cheese. Grotto also offers a prix fixe three-course dinner that is a tremendous value.
So what's not to like about Grotto? Well, nothing really, unless you get stressed out about parking or you don't like the color red. Other than that, Grotto is nearly the perfect restaurant; exquisite food, surprisingly low prices, and an atmosphere perfect for a romantic evening. Follow the lead of restaurant critics and hardcore foodies, and head over to Bowdoin Street to see why Grotto has such a strong following among those who take their food seriously.
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