Subscribe Now
2020 First Date
Editors’ Choice

Ceia Kitchen + Bar


Excellent cusine, a relaxed vibe and delicious cocktails make this the perfect spot to impress that special someone.

38 State St., Newburyport, 978-358-8112,

Readers’ Choice



The eclectic menu, which ranges from the classic (fried chicken or lobster risotto) to the adventurous (duck confit tacos or Asian-inspired street corn), is a surefire conversation starter, and a hefty selection of small plates encourages sharing (and perhaps connection?). The atmosphere is welcoming and unpretentious, perfect for pressure-free fun.

87 Washington St., Salem, 978-744-9600,

+Pandemic Pivot

Ceia Kitchen + Bar

Ceia Kitchen + Bar has made a name for itself as a destination for creative, farm-to-table dining and award-winning wine lists in a cozy yet charming atmosphere. In other words: a great place for a first date.

When the pandemic upended the restaurant industry, however, owner Nancy Batista-Caswell decided it was time to evolve. In early days, when takeout service was the only option for restaurants, the Ceia team decided to replace the regular menu with a series of concept-driven weekly menus. There was a Mexican-themed week featuring shrimp tacos with rhubarb salsa and a pork burrito with pineapple refried beans, and an Asian noodle week including spicy dan dan noodles and a vegetarian udon soup. California cuisine, pasta, and charcuterie boards have all made appearances.

The goal, Batista-Caswell says, was to maximize the experience for customers by planning menus that would travel well and use ingredients the kitchen could procure. She also wanted, in a trying time, to provide customers the flavors and foods they craved, so the restaurant uses email and social media surveys to collect feedback on what theme the menu should adopt each week.

When outdoor and then indoor dining opened back up, the takeout concept remained, but there was a major change: Ceia moved its operations to its original location at 25 State Street, to best accommodate the reopening guidelines. New menus are released on Wednesday mornings, and diners can call for take-out or make reservations for the patio garden or the intimate seven-table inside dining area.

There was also a community element in Batista-Caswell's approach. She raised funds so she could provide hundreds of meals to Anna Jaques Hospital's frontline workers—nurses, doctors, and hospital cleaning crews— delivered right to the hospital.

All BONS 2020 Awards | Purchase BONS 2020 Issue | FAQ | 2019 Winners

Are you a BONS 2020 winner? Congratulations! Click here to get more out of your winner listing by viewing enhancement options, view our free downloadable assets and purchase winner merchandise.