Bacchus is known to most people as a charming neighborhood pasta joint, but as Tess Bosher puts it: "This gem deserves recognition as a standard-bearer of Italian food. Consistent quality is difficult to achieve, but in the course of dozens of meals here, I've never had a bad bite, or even a mediocre one. The pastas are heavenly (go for the gorgonzola and peas), the salads fresh and flavorful (don't miss the white bean and pesto), and entrees well-executed and reasonably priced. Yes, it can be crowded and you may wait for a table on the weekends. But even at their busiest, the bartenders and staff are helpful, and the place just feels happy. It's also fun to watch the chefs at work if you're sitting in one of the back booths. Bacchus isn't experimenting with all the latest food trends or trying to be everything to everybody. It's just making great Italian food with love. Carry on!"
2 N. Meadow St. at Main, 355-9919
Other critics' most-visited standbys include: Can Can, Acacia and Millie's (Don Baker); Six Burner, Amour Wine Bistro, Ipanema and 821 Café (Karen Newton); the Phoenician, Acacia, Fresca on Addison (Ellie Basch); Edo's Squid, Bistro 27 and Black Hand (Robey Martin), and Garnett's Cafe, Croaker's Spot and La Milpa (Matthew Freeman).