Restaurants generally have a casual approach to dining in the Berkshires, which was nice to experience. It meant we could go straight from a stroll in the woods to dining at a restaurant’s outdoor patio. Farm to table, fresh ingredients are consistent in the Berkshires, and while there’s a number of notable places, newly opened restaurants generated a lot of buzz during our visit.
Due to recommendations, we went to Boema (84 Main Street, Tel: 413-881-4936. www.pizzeriaboema.com), a contemporary pizzeria opened last year that’s quickly become a magnet to locals and visitors alike. The popular neighborhood hangout serves up Neapolitan-style pizza, made in a 900-degree oven, with homemade mozzarella and tomatoes, and guests can enjoy their slices both outdoors or inside its 100-year old barn. Our Tartufo pie came out piping hot, and the truffle marinated wild mushrooms hit all the right spots after a 2-hour hike.
The most upscale restaurant in Berkshires is Café Boulud at Blantyre. Famed chef Daniel Boulud opened the restaurant in July 2020 as a popup, but the demand was unsurprisingly overwhelming. Visitors can continue to expect classic French cuisine (with a modern twist) for a sophisticated, high-brow dining experience right in the resort’s main mansion.
There was something special and nostalgic about Café Boulud. Inside the dining room, which had no more than a dozen tables, beautiful chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling, and the room was flooded with natural light from large windows. The attentive, sharply dressed waitstaff knew our names, which lent to a fully immersive experience, rather than just an elegant meal. I treated myself to Peekytoe Crab Cake with pico de gallo verde and tender and moist Crescent Farms duck breast served with baby Swiss chard.
The adjoining, dimly lit and swanky vintage bar with fireplace made for the perfect nightcap, rivaling some of the sophisticated bars I’ve visited back home in NYC.
And just like NYC, there’s significant culture in the Berkshires, too, with more important institutions and attractions than you’d expect. In fact, the Berkshires served as the stomping ground for creative, bold-face names for nearly two centuries.
Novelist Edith Wharton moved here at the turn of the 20th century, living on 100 acres of farmland outside Lenox. You can visit The Mount (2 Plunkett Street, Tel: 413-551-5111. www.edithwharton.org), the author’s 35-room American mansion that she designed, and where she wrote The House of Mirth. The museum is now a historic landmark and a culture center that offers house tours, garden tours, and ghost tours, and visitors enjoy the classical architecture and landscape design that gives the museum its charm.
Over in Stockbridge, the Norman Rockwell Museum (9 Glendale Road, Tel: 413-298-4100. www.rockwellmuseum.org) houses the world’s largest collection of Rockwell drawings and paintings (over 574 original works), as well as rotating exhibits. Founded in 1969, the art museum is on a whopping 36 acres in the very town Rockwell lived with his family, and while the exterior is modest, you can spend hours marveling at the iconic artist’s work inside.
In Pittsfield, visitors head to Arrowhead, known as the Herman Melville House (780 Holmes Road, Tel: 413-442-1793. www.berkshirehistory.org). It’s the very home the American author lived and wrote Moby Dick after moving here in the summer of 1851. The museum looks out onto Mount Greylock, which is what allegedly inspired the whale in Moby Dick, though Melville’s novel, Pierre, is known to be dedicated to the breathtaking mountain. Like the Normal Rockwell Museum, the 18th-century Herman Melville farmhouse is unassuming from the outside, but chockfull of history. There’s also a nature trail and on-site gift shop.
Perhaps the most distinguished landmark in Berkshires is Tanglewood (297 West Street, Tel: 413-637-5180. www.bso.org). The live music venue has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937, and visitors can attend all types of live performances here (both indoor and outdoor), from contemporary bands to symphony orchestras. Tanglewood has been a revered institution for nearly a century, and its history is admired by both locals and visitors alike. It’s got great energy. Some guests visit simply to sprawl and picnic on the impeccably manicured grounds, and it’s this very casual approach to life that’s made the Berkshires the perfect getaway for decades.