To wrap up the year, Eater Boston polled both local journalists and readers of this site to get their thoughts on the past year in dining: the good, the bad, and the most exciting things still to come in 2023. The results have been collected in the following series of posts. (Check out the full archive here.)
Below, we ask: What was the saddest Boston restaurant closure of 2022?
“The closing of Newtowne Grille in Cambridge was absolutely crushing to me. Their pizza was among the best of the “New York style” thin crust in the region and to see yet another old-school dive breaks my heart.”
“Spikes in Allston, easily. In its prime (mid-2000s), nothing hit quite like a warm Texas Ranger on a cold night at 1 a.m. after seeing some sloppy bands play in a dirty basement on Ashford Street.”
“Oh, my heart hurt for some of this year’s closings:
- S&I Thai To Go in Allston, a brilliant purveyor of Bangkok-based Central Thai cuisine and a rare place where I regularly heard customers speaking Thai. Our running joke was that they always tried to steer the “farang” white dude away from traditional Thai dishes toward bland pad thai and chicken satay, but I would not be denied.
- Cafe Madeleine in the South End, which made my favorite croissant in town.
- Izzy’s, a Puerto Rican stalwart in Kendall Square whose hefty, value-priced plates like stewed chicken and rice helped keep my broke-ass 20-something self well-fed.
- Bar Lyon, a South End bistro that served beautiful, too-rarely-seen Lyonnaise dishes. I’ll really miss its quenelle de brochet: custardy freshwater-fish dumplings in lobster velouté flecked with crayfish tail. Damn.
- Mary Chung in Central Square, my first-ever guide to Chinese food with serious chili fire, as well as beloved dishes like suan la chow show, dun dun noodles, and Grandma’s pie. Highlight: a bunch of family-style banquet meals where 15 or 20 of us ate like kings for maybe $20 a head. It’s up in the pantheon of my all-time most visited Boston-area restaurants. Glad for its well-earned retirement, teary-eyed to see it go.
Lastly, I’d like to recognize the end of an era in the passing of Robert Toomey, better known as Brother Cleve, a once-in-a-generation polymath whose influence on Boston’s scene as cocktail historian, creator and mentor cannot be overestimated.
He first impressed me with his early stint behind the stick at the Lizard Lounge, bowled me over with his groundbreaking work and cultivation of talent at the bygone B-Side Lounge — Ground Zero for Boston’s craft cocktail boom in the late 90s – and cemented my appreciation by consulting on fine cocktail programs at restaurants and bars all over the city for another 20 years. His gifts extended far beyond the shaker: musician with germinal 90s lounge-music band Combustible Edison and others, club DJ with a special flair for tropical vibes, curator of bygone musical genres like 50s exotica and old spy-movie soundtracks, and singular raconteur who knew the contours of every great Boston dive bar that closed before you were born. His spiritual DNA is threaded through nearly every spot in Greater Boston where you can now get a precisely made pre-Prohibition cocktail with the proper spirits and fresh juices and ice in the right glass, or a Tiki cocktail made with scholarly reverence for genre originator Donn the Beachcomber.
Besides all that, he was a mensch, a high-style cool cat, a well-traveled food nerd and a nonpareil drinking buddy. I’ll never not miss him, but I’m grateful that his long shadow over our scene endures. RIP, Cleve: you were a goddamned original.”
“There were many, but because it went a bit quietly, I want to single out Casa B in Somerville. It was a perfect date-night spot, as delicious and charming as the nearby Celeste, and I was sorry to see it go.”
“Oof, too many. Cambridge institution Newtowne Grille hit me pretty hard! I first went there almost by accident when I had a disastrous moving day to the Porter Square area a million years ago (or a dozen, give or take) — after fighting with the absolute worst moving company and sweating through a miserable day, we headed to the square and tried to go to Christopher’s, but the line was long and we were exceedingly grouchy. Spotted Newtowne across the street. Pizza and beer? Sounded like just what we needed. Ended up being one of our favorite New York-style slices for years—a definite takeout staple. And fun for dining in, too. That pitcher-and-a-pizza deal? What was it, 12 bucks? Perfect.”
Nearly 100 people took part in Eater Boston’s dining survey this year (thank you, all!). Below, find the top ten reader responses for the restaurant closings that hit hardest this year.
- Bar Lyon
- Mary Chung
- Gourmet Dumpling House
- Cafe Madeleine
- Eldo Cake Shop
- JJ Foley’s Fireside Tavern
- Corazon De Frida
- Old Havana
These answers have been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.