Often more spacious than its right bank counterpart, Cambridge has some of the best patios for al fresco drinking and dining. Oddly or not, several pair-up, highlighting the city’s dual bourgeois and bohemian elements. Take neighbors Catalyst and Area 4, which overlook Technology Square’s huge lawn on a quiet stretch of Main Street. At Catalyst, chef-owner William Kovel’s summer patio menu is headed by magnums of rose wine, to be enjoyed by the glass and, well, if you insist, by the magnum. While you can order from the regular menu, which includes Kovel’s luscious pastas—tortellini and braised short rib never gets old—and entrees like curry spiced skate wing with pureed carrot and lobster hash, the patio menu includes summer specials like salade Niçoise with seared spiced tuna, and that great New England summer treat, fried clams.
Catalyst’s patio is surrounded by pretty shrubbery and is secluded and cozy. Across the square, at chef-owner Michael Leviton’s Area 4, sidewalk seating skirts the lawn. Grab a microbrew and some of the best pizza you’ll ever eat, and ask the hostess for the lawn game gear for a round or two of, say, bocce.
In Kendall Square, the basement patio for the Blue Room offers seclusion and fun summer events. Enjoy special grill nights, including a lunch grill beginning May 5. Finish with ice cream floats. Over in Harvard Square, or more precisely Charles Square, chef Peter Davis’s Henrietta’s Table offers farm-to-table American.
In east Cambridge, at Restaurant dante and its neighbor, the more casual ArtBar, roles are often blurred. Both sit adjacent to the Charles River with Boston’s skyline as a backdrop. ArtBar’s patio opens for lunch, brunch, dinner, and occasional clambakes, and dante, the posher diner, occasionally turns its patio over to parties. Sure, order chef Dante Magistris’s gorgeous Italian inspired dishes, like chitarra a la Genovese (noodles in handmade pesto), but also enjoy drinks and sfizzi (nibbles) by a large flat screen (likely dominated by Sox games). Beverage maestro Tom Tellier is curating a line of frozen drinks exclusively for the patio. We hear tequila is involved, but it wouldn’t be summer without entanglement with the crazy cactus juice.
Head west to enjoy the famed Oleana’s more casual sister restaurant, Sofra, which similarly offers Middle Eastern inspired food that feels healthy. Sofra’s is functionally urbane, ready at first warmth and already packing in customers.
Sofra Bakery, 1 Belmont Street. 617-661-3161. www.sofrabakery.com