Boston Dining Guide




37 Bowdoin St
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
(617) 227-3434

Location: Beacon Hill

Setting out on a cold, rainy Sunday in March, my fiancée and I went searching for an intimate, romantic Italian dining experience. Our quest led us to a subterranean dining spot in the back end of Beacon Hill known as Grotto.

The Ambiance

We arrived around 6:00 in the evening, without a reservation. Luckily, it was not an issue and we were seated promptly. Being in a partial underground setting, the dining space is rather dark and somewhat cramped for our taste (on a busier night, I could see the lack of space being a real problem, but not so much when we dined there). At the same time, the brick walls, deep red color of the ceiling and highlights, the large wine display on the far wall and the small chandeliers give it a very romantic feel- something reminiscent to an underground wine cave. That feel added to the intimacy of the experience.

The Service

Our server was very nice and helpful with our questions. Service, though, was somewhat slow - especially considering that it wasn't overly busy during our visit.

The Meal

A big plus of Grotto is the value of their 3 course prix fixe menu for $36. My choice for appetizer was the fondue and it was excellent. Perfectly prepared beef tenderloin and tender Portobello mushroom strips, mixed with aged balsamic and Truffle oil, were the dippers - and the creamy, melted Fontina cheese perfectly complimented them. My fiancée loved her appetizer - an amazing salad consisting of arugula and tasty prosciutto, topped with liberal amounts of Reggiano cheese and mixed with a zesty lemon vinaigrette dressing.

We both chose pasta dishes as our main entrees. I chose the spicy lobster linguine with poached lobster in half shell, mixed in a lively spiced tomato sauce. While I enjoyed this dish, it wasn't something that I found exceptional. Though it was enjoyable from a presentation standpoint, I would have preferred the lobster to be free of the shell and mixed in the linguine. Also, the sauce was a bit watery, and the balance shifted too much towards the heat, at the expense of the richness of the tomato sauce.

My fiancée chose the classic spaghetti and meatballs, with what is described on the menu as "Grotto's insanely fabulous tomato sauce". While she enjoyed it, she said the entree was the least favorite part of the meal - a sentiment to which I agreed.

Dolce (desert) consisted of a lemon panna cotta, with raspberry sauce and a crisp pizzelle cookie. This was a highlight of our dinner. The lemon panna cotta was refreshing and tart, with the sweetness of the raspberry sauce and the tasty, crisp cookie balancing the desert perfectly. The melting chocolate lava cake was also delicious, with the cool, creamy vanilla ice cream a perfect accompaniment to the moist, rich cake.

The Conclusion

Grotto is an intimate dining experience that gives great value (for Boston) for well prepared Italian food. Recommended.

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