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Ginormous Shrimp Are Nothing to Balk at From a Sizzling New South End Spot

Dana Hatic

Aug 23, 2019

A local critic offers an early review of Ilona

A “Sizzling” Hot Spot in the South End

Longtime Improper Bostonian critic MC Slim JB recently began providing dispatches from new restaurants for Next up: Ilona, which mainly serves food from Georgia (the country, not the state), along with influences from Turkey, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, and Egypt. According to Slim, Ilona blends an indie restaurant feel with neighborhood comfort and a “swinging hot spot,” all in one, not dumbing down the cuisine, but thriving in it.

Among the highlights: a “fabulous” Pepto-pink beet hummus, “terrific” and completely massive grilled shrimp, and a memorable salad with summer tomatoes and cucumbers. There’s also “a superb” pilaf of Puy lentils and toasted rice with spicy fried onions, and Slim “found joy in tender cubes of monkfish” and in a ground lamb dish.

The bar has “potent specialty cocktails,” according to Slim, including an Oaxaca Old Fashioned with mezcal, tequila, and bitters. Overall, Slim writes, “Georgian fare, despite some unique specifics, intersects enough with cuisines you already love to make you not feel lost.”

Ilona has been open for nearly two months, so this is an early look (not a formal review) from Slim and The Boston Globe also recently featured the restaurant in its early-look “Quick Bite” series; Sheryl Julian wrote that the neighborhood restaurant is “a stylish place to drop in, share a plate, hug a friend.”

Meanwhile, a couple early Ilona favorites from the Eater Boston team: adana lamb kebabs, shish barak, haloumi, and bakaliaros.

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