Milestone birthday dinner in Boston/Cambridge

hi everyone,

I have a milestone birthday coming up and I’m celebrating with two different groups of friends - all good/adventurous eaters. Several of us don’t eat red meat. Any suggestions? i was thinking Contessa but then a friend went and said it was overrated, food-wise.


Oleana, Urban Hearth, Forage all come to mind in Cambridge.

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Moëca if you can get a reservation? I still haven’t been to Giulia (the sister restaurant) but they both seem special occasion-y to me.

I love the space that Moëca now occupies. Brings back wonderful memories of Chez Henri.

Happy milestone birthday to you! 21, correct?


Fun! Happy birthday!

I’m also a non-red-meat eater and I’m always thrilled with Sarma. Although it’s not “formal” it always feels “special.”

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Have only been to Contessa for brunch, and what the food may lack in innovation it makes up for with execution, which is to say what they do, they do well. And the room is certainly festive.

For a small group, perhaps O Ya?

No. 9 Park and Menton certainly fit the bill. I’ve celebrated milestones at both. If you have a large group, the private dining room at Menton is suprisingly reasonable, as they don’t have a room charge and you don’t need to do a “buyout”.

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I thought Contessa was very special occasion worthy. That view! I would agree the food is not adventurous, however, so as the guest of honor, what are you in the mood for?
Maybe Peregrine?

@Parsnipity - I’m less worried about adventurous food for Contessa- I don’t really expect it there! - but more that it’s really, really good food. I tend to LOVE great Italian food - I also love Sarma, which is one of my favorites - I just want it to feel special, celebratory, and delicious!

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My first, second and third choice would be SRV. It is not truly Venetian food, more Venetian-inspired, but always excellent, as is the service, and the room is very nice.


If it was my birthday I’d 2nd the recommendations for Guilia and Sarma. Pammy’s and Row 34 would be on the list as well.

Contessa is definitely a style over substance place. Food and service were shaky enough on our last 2 visits, that I won’t rush back. Great setting, but too expensive for it not to be a complete experience.


I don’t have much experience with "special "myself in the last several years, other than Sarma, except that I wonder if Oleana might be considered if you haven’t been in a while, and if the current menu appeals to you.

I’ve always experienced Oleana as special and like Sarma, of course, in terms of food and tastes. I haven’t eaten indoors there for a very long time, but the last time well pre pandemic, we chanced to get seated in the back room overlooking the garden, and the view is really special with the fairy lights. The garden itself is especially special, though weather-dependent (I’ve read they have heaters) and there is no guarantee you could sit there even if it is warm and dry. I also know that indoors can feel cramped. And that it can be difficult to get a reservation.

All that said, the desserts are especially intriguing to me and very special to me, even though I’m not much of a dessert person. We got take out from Oleana for my landmark birthday in 2020, and the pavlova actually traveled well! The passion fruit caramel is very sweet but great when combined with a spoonful of the rest of it.

I hope you find some place wonderful!


I went to Guilia a month ago, and it wasn’t as good as I recalled. I do love Sarma, and we haven’t been to Pammy’s in years - love the SRV rec too. You all are great! If anyone has any others, keep them coming!
Thank you!


Happy birthday! 25 is the new 21, they say :wink:

Adding my 2c from afar :smiley: For myself, I go back & forth on fancy setting vs food that excites me, and usually end up closer to the latter but maybe with a slightly nicer ambience.

Celeste seemed too casual to suggest for this, but their newer place La Royal has a different ambience and the menu might suit. On my list for soon.

On a similar note, Juliet is in a new location and was supposed to restart their prix fixe menus this month (maybe someone here has visited since the move and can opine).

The menu at Facchia Bruta looks lovely, but again the setting may be too casual. (Fwiw I enjoy Toro, and tapas there or elsewhere could make for a fun birthday celebration given the energy of small plates, tasty drinks, and general vibe.)

Linking your earlier thread here as well - some of those recs might also work for dinner.


I’ve only eaten outside at Atlantico, but really enjoyed the food. We stuck with the small plates which focus more on seafood and vegetables.


I’ve been to La Royal twice in the past few months - once at the bar and once in the dining room. It’s fun and boisterous, but I’m not sure it would be my first pick for a birthday dinner. For one, it can be VERY loud (to the point of making conversation difficult) and I also found the cocktails to be better than the food (which might be ok, depending on your party!).

Juliet is a great suggestion, although I also haven’t been to the new location. The unique menus definitely make it feel like an “occasion” to me.


Having been to both Sarma and Oleana and thoroughly enjoying both, I would choose Sarma if it were my bday. Just love how the menu changes with what’s available from their produce vendor. They have done a vegetarian tasting menu, the room is celebratory as well especially if you tip them off ahead of time.

Juliet is an adventure every time. Not sure if the new space has resumed their themed dinners. No email as of yet updating the new space.

Second the Urban Hearth recommendation. Chef and owner Erin is a delight. Open to special celebrations. Maybe a phone call?

Last thought look at The Rudder on Rocky Neck in Gloucester. Barbara Lynch’s newest restaurant. Open at most two weeks. Website is a work in progress.

Wherever you go, please share your experience. Happy Birthday !!!


If the weather is right, as it was last weekend (when we last ate there), there’s no dining experience in the world – and I use the comparison based on significant experience across continents – better than eating in the garden at Oleana.


Update! Reservation at Sarma in early November. Leaning towards SRV for the other dinner, but have to check with my co-birthday friend. We were supposed to go there seven years ago for our birthdays but we had to cancel due to illness.