Andover residents have a long history of local loyalty, which helps the town’s excellent restaurants survive and thrive. Yella Grill, with its Mediterranean regional food, Larosa’s, with casual Italian, and Elm Square Bistro, where Chef Michael Sherman crafts new American cuisine, have all marked more than a decade in business, despite challenges from gas line problems to COVID. That’s an important milestone in an industry where more than half close within the first year, and 80 percent within the first five. But there’s also loads of love for newcomers who add to the vibrant dining scene.
Elm Square Oyster Co.
Executive Chef Michael Sherman consistently turns out top notch fare, whether you are seeking a perfectly juicy burger or something more elevated like crudo or a sirloin steak. Nothing comes from a box or a bag – everything from the ketchup to the soups and even sea salt is made in-house. Start with the deviled eggs, add in a cocktail from the talented Colin Welch and you have a recipe for a delightful evening—especially out on the charming patio, which evokes a European bistro. The oyster happy hour on Wednesdays and Thursdays always features the freshest bivalves – but for a truly special experience, plan ahead to book the chef’s tasting menu. It’s only available with 24 hours’ notice, so Chef Sherman can prepare to surprise and delight.
Two Elm Square, Andover, 978-470-2228, elmsquareoysterco.com
This classic New England-style tavern has been serving Andover clam chowder, burgers, sandwiches, steak and seafood for more than 30 years. There are three dining rooms and a large tavern, making it perfect for accommodating large groups. Live music in the tavern space every weekend attracts a crowd for dinner and a show.
18 Elm St, Andover, palmers-restaurant.com, 978-470-1606
Stepping inside the gilded double doors is like slipping into a portal to a chic international party. Dark walls and low lights highlight the striking art, while the menu assembles luxurious bites from around the world into a small plate fantasy, from Russian caviar service to deviled eggs ramped up with black truffles. The global cocktail list is organized by spirit, featuring a selection of high-end bottles, from mezcal to Japanese whisky, neat or in innovative cocktails. The kitchen closes early to make room for the party, as weekends bring a live DJ who gets people dancing anyplace there’s space.
27 Main Street, Andover, 978-475-4082, theprivelounge.com
LaRosa’s Italian Cafe & Bar, Andover
Classic entrees like chicken parm sit alongside lobster in vodka sauce and salmon served with Sardinian Fregola Salad at dinner time in this cozy space. So grab a cocktail or unwind with the full white tablecloth treatment, or enjoy a casual lunch. In a rush? Heat-and-eat family style meals compliment a full roster of sandwiches, pastas and salads at this beloved Italian eatery serving the area for nearly a quarter century. You can even take home an espresso martini or a bottle of house-made sangria to complement your meal.
7 Barnard St, Andover, 978-475-1777, larosasofandover.com
Pazzo Pizza Co.
With a sleek curved bar, sculptural communal table, and big open kitchen starring a pizza oven imported from Italy, Pazzo gracefully stretches from family-friendly dining to casual hang out hot spot, with an Italian family sports bar vibe. The owner’s previous experience at two favorites in Boston’s North End, Carmen’s and Hot Tomatoes, drives the menu and translates to much repeat business. Customers rave about the slow-roasted chicken wings marinated in balsamic vinegar and lemon zest and an impressive array of pastas, salads and overstuffed sandwiches, and of course, gourmet pizzas topped with everything from spicy soppressata to shrimp scampi. Not to mention a full bar with tasty cocktails.
10 Main Street, Andover, 978-409-2268, pazzoandover.com
Danielle and Carlo Berdahn’s Mediterranean gem mixes the best of Danielle’s North Shore roots with Carlo’s background growing up in North Lebanon create a restaurant that has been going strong for more than a decade. Yella (a common Arabic expression meaning “let’s go”), focuses on scratch-made and local wherever possible: yogurt for dipping sauce is made in-house, along with just about every other condiment, right down to the ketchup. Mint for most of the dishes comes from the Berdahn’s own substantial garden, and spices that aren’t available here are imported directly from Lebanon – the couple travels over to select the herbs themselves.
Dishes like fresh-shucked local scallops crusted with Middle Eastern spices and Braised Lamb Shank, served with couscous, roasted vegetables and a tart-sweet pomegranate molasses glaze have become menu mainstays. Save room for dessert – the sweets are also made in-house, and show the same exotic influences as the rest of the menu.
16 Post Office Ave., Andover, 978-749-0011, yellagrille.com
It’s all scratch-made at this Mex-Cali restaurant swimming in L.A. vibes—and BONS awards. Chef Franco Lozano III grew up on the West Coast and was coached in the kitchen by his mom and abuelita, but puts his own spin on current classics like Mexican Street Corn, which sit next to specialty items like a burger blended with beef and chorizo and lemon pepper fries, as well as empanadas, and, of course, nachos. Get a tray of tacos and burritos – we’re big fans of the fish tacos, and the bottomless rice and beans make it a meal. Not surprisingly, the cocktail menu does amazing things with tequila – but they also have Mexican Coke for the teetotalers.
93 Main St. (interior courtyard), Andover, 978-409-2119, buenomalo.com
Mixing the gilded age with a sleek modern vibe, this sexy spot — one of the trio of restaurants owned by local impresario Paul LaRosa, invites diners to dress-to-impress. Reserve a table in front of the Art Deco tiled fireplace, chat about the large abstract paintings and feast on luxurious ingredients, from plump fresh oysters to prime-grade beef topped with a butter-poached lobster tail. Add a bottle of wine from their extensive list to cap off a truly special evening.
27 Main St., Andover, 978-475-4082, lafinarestaurant.com
Smythe & Dove Steak
Marcus Palmer’s steakhouse, found in a replica 1800-era barn, complete with a loft and a cathedral ceiling, has a menu much broader than a classic beef palace. While his resume includes opening a number of high-flying steakhouses, like the Smith and Wollensky housed in a Boston castle, everyone is welcome, whether in shorts and a T-shirt for a burger at the bar or upstairs for a quiet dinner. It’s not just the space that embraces all comers – the menu spans everything from spicy hummus, topped with grilled shrimp and served with pita bread, to tacos, and even a buttermilk chicken sandwich. Meat lovers will find the steak frites a treat at $32, and a 14-ounce sirloin for under $40. Everyone will love the happy hour, with sliders for $2 and a $6 burger.
89 Main Street Courtyard, Main St., Andover, 978-470-0001, smythedove.com