More than 30 years ago, Pauline Kael, the famously fearless movie critic for the New Yorker (now retired), traded in Central Park West for the Berkshires town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Then it was something of a backwater; now it's a tourist magnet--skiing in the winter, concerts in the summer--and the culinary scene has flourished. Kael's opinions about restaurants are as diamond sharp (and diamond hard) as her opinions about movies. These are some of her favorite spots.
Babalouie's The thin-crust pizza is a marvel any New York pizzeria would be proud to claim. Kael likes the Isabella: roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips, shaved fennel, onions, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan (286 Main St.; 413-528-8100).
Castle Street Cafe "I've watched this restaurant become more elegant, and tastier, over the years," Kael says. The current menu includes everything from an olive sampler to a salmon fillet with green-tomato salsa (10 Castle St.; 413-528-5244).
Union Bar and Grill This popular American hangout can get boisterous, so Kael often phones in a takeout order. "They're wizards with portobello mushrooms--they mix them with the damnedest things" (293 Main St.; 413-528-6228).
Verdura Kael says this year-old Italian restaurant "may be the best place in town." The owners are members of the back-to-basics Slow Food movement; their cooking is both simple and sumptuous (44 Railroad St.; 413-528-8969).