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Nosh on: Pay attention to the man behind the curtain

The Emerald Lounge feels like a trip to the land of Oz.

Named in honor of Boston's beautiful Emerald Necklace, the Revere Hotel's Emerald Lounge is more Oz wizardry than nature. Opened this past spring, the snazzy room looks clubby, but is really a comfy place to socialize, drink (of course) and grab a bite from what seems a basic bar menu. But this is where wizardry comes in: The presentation is as practical as it is sophisticated. Wellfleet shooters in a piquant mignonette line up on a stand ready to slurp down; fish tacos -- battered cod with salsa and avocado -- sit on a wavy shaped steel tray that ensures pick up without spillage; the beef sliders have a larger bun than necessary to catch errant bits. Very clever.

It's all put together downstairs in Rustic Kitchen's kitchen. This Italian restaurant adjacent to the property was perfectly placed to handle the hotel's breakfast, room service and lounge food concerns. However, Rustic Kitchen -- which restaurant business veteran Jim Cafarelli (House of Blues, Todd English) started a decade ago in Faneuil Hall -- is also a standalone theater district stalwart with reasonably priced, well-executed food.

Design-wise, Rustic and Emerald aren't comparable, but they share some menu items -- plump shrimp in a thick batter with a coconut aioli, for instance. Rustic's lengthier menu has its lauded pizzas -- the fig and prosciutto with goat cheese and mozzarella is still a bar-raiser -- and pastas. Or choose a seasonal special like the tender beef stew ladled over sweet potato gnocchi and finished with shaved ricotta sal-ata -- a chewy, aged ricotta (lighter than Parmesan). Add just cooked rabe for a crisp contrast and brisk tang. Upstairs, downstairs, function, form and flavor are equal partners here.

Ruff ruff at Rustic

Dress up your dog and get your Oompa-loompa on: The Emerald Lounge’s “Willy Wonka”-inspired Halloween party, the “Emerald Factory,” takes place Wednesday and benefits local dog rescue nonprofit One Tail at a Time. (We know the Wicked Witch wasn’t in “Willy Wonka,” but we loved this pic.)

If you go



Emerald Lounge

200 Stuart St., Boston

617-423-5700

www.emeraldultralounge.com

Entrees range from $10-$18.

Rustic Kitchen

210 Stuart St., Boston

617-457-2626

www.rustickitchen.biz

Entrees range from $17-$28.

 
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