"A couple of months in, Viale already feels like a very comfy fit for its cosmopolitan neighborhood," writes MC Slim JB, reviewing the restaurant for The Improper Bostonian, "with the kitchen and bar turning out terrific food and drink like it’s been there for a decade." He discusses the difficulty some restaurants have living in the shadow of a well-loved former occupant of the space, but Viale is not one of those restaurants, already shining on its own. (And the owner of the former restaurant, Rendezvous, would "doubtless be proud.") Some of MC's top picks include the crispy veal sweetbreads ("almost as rich and refined as foie gras"), a "gorgeous skin-on fillet" of steelhead trout, and the "Fra Diavolo by way of Valencia" (the saffron fettuccine).
In the Globe this week, Devra First reviews Newton newcomer Comedor, a Chilean-American small plates restaurant.
"The menu is put together with the same honed aesthetic [as the space], clean yet playful. It is equally divided among meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. Chilean-spiced pork ribs are served with North Carolina mustard sauce. Empanadas are filled with brie and pork belly or salami and Fontina. Ingredients range from Vermont cheese and local shellfish to Lebanese garlic sauce, Argentine chimichurri, and Chilean spice mix merken. (She spent time at Sarma and he at Oleana, if some flavors feel familiar.)"
She grants it two stars out of four ("good") and recommends dishes like the burger of the week and the crispy chicken drumsticks ("Buffalo chicken with a Spanish accent.)
Sheryl Julian files a Globe "Cheap Eats" review on Noodle Barn, a fairly new Thai and Vietnamese restaurant in Jamaica Plain, and declares it "the most likable place."
"The menu is all over the place, with something of a greatest hits quality. Thai dishes that are traditionally sweet and crunchy have those characteristics seriously amped up. Hot things are spicy. Portions are large, service is unusually quick and attentive."
In a "Quick Bite" Globe overview of River Bar at Somerville's Assembly Row, Kara Baskin describes the new restaurant and bar as a "lively little cocktail lair" and a "fuzzy woolen Xanadu...a fair spot to stage a Jennifer Aniston rom-com." Guests are eating "daring combinations" like fried sweet potatoes with pomegranate molasses, corned beef and cabbage dumplings with a rye dipping sauce, and shrimp chips with black garlic aioli.
For Boston Magazine, Corby Kummer files his December review on Commonwealth, now a year old. He finds that the earnestly farm-to-table restaurant has "good intentions," but they get it into "a bit of trouble."
"Such intentional simplicity is meant to emphasize the ingredients’ integrity and freshness. -Involved preparations, the thinking goes, would muddy what that honest farmer labored to produce with her proudly calloused hands...But the quest for purity does not grant a license for sloppy or uneven food, and in fact, it’s a style far harder to consistently execute than the typical catalog of restaurant tricks."
Dishes that do succeed include the fried chicken ("mild and agreeable, gaining a boost from a smear of fermented black garlic") and fried whole bass "with the blackened bits of bone and cartilage very worth the gnawing."