Best Italian restaurant in the North End?
Modern Italian - Prezza (on Fleet)
Most Romantic - Trattoria a la Scalinatella (Hanover)
Gourmet - Sage
Never-Mentioned - Taverna Toscana on Salem (not much atmosphere, but great prices and my favorite lobster ravioli)
Teeny-Tiny - Carmen
Home-style - L'Osteria, but can be inconsistent. Still searching.
Skip my recommendations if you're looking for a red sauce palace, which accounts for 90% of North End joints...
Prezza -- genius of a young chef, very creative. Also noteworthy for: a) having parking, b) taking reservations, c) serving dessert, and d) having a full bar with great cocktails. The only North End restaurant I really love that can make these claims. $$$$.
Mamma Maria -- traditional Northern Italian, lovely atmosphere (white tablecloth), fabulous service, rather romantic, great wines. Pricey.
Sage -- small, creative, amazing pastas and risotti. Often fully booked.
Terramia -- ranges from offbeat to traditional, wonderful seafood dishes (try the lobster "doughnuts" as I call them, I think they're listed as "fritters"), and a simply perfect pasta pomodoro.
Antico Forno -- Terramia's cheaper kid sister, more casual ambience, super wood-fired pizzas.
Lucca -- great noisy vibe, straightforward menu but better executed than most North Enders; terrific seafood and grilled meats. Fun bar frequented by food-service types late evenings after other nearby restaurants close.
Sage is my favorite so far for well wrought, fancy labor-intensive cooking; haven't had anything better than their scallop tartare with black truffles in the North End. In this vein, Prezza's second in my mind. As for looks and feels, Sage is more intimate and homey, Prezza's more modern and expansive.
On the more traditional side, I'm fond of Limoncello and Piccolo Nido. Straightforward stuff, but excellent execution. of the two, I give Limoncello a slight edge. I also adore the squid ink pasta aglio olio at the Daily Catch that was recommended by Big Dog.
Carmen mixes tradition and with touches of Californian innovation. I love eating at the bar -- plenty of small, cicchetti-like plates to munch on with wine. Fabulous crespelle bolognese.
Took some out-of-state friends (way out of state!) to Piccolo Nido over the holidays and everyone agreed it was a wonderful time. The staff was very friendly and accomodating of special vegetarian requests. Everything was good although the considered winners of the night were the wild mushroom ravioli in thyme cream sauce and the seafood risotto. I'm glad I'd seen the mention on the board before!
We had dinner with my son and his BC roomates/parents Saturday. They were in town and we decided to go to Joe Tecce's. It was a great evening and the food was terrific. The service was fabulous: thanks Georgette! It was very well priced at 500 for 11 adults with wine included. Plus, the decor is really funky and fun.
Well, I wanted to have dinner at Vinny's At Night - Best Italian in the Boston area in my opinion in East Somerville - Alas, it was a Monday and they were not open for dinner. SO....
I called Vinny's and asked where in the North End they would recommend...Next thing I know, THE Vinny is on the phone - He recommended Pagliuca's - on Parmenter Street.
Had dinner there for 4: Brief summary -
Great food -
Tight space -
Friendly staff -
Great food - Satisfied a pescevegetarian, two serious omnivores, and most important, Mom - the picky Italian who requires ziti bolognese on the menu and red sauces (I won't even go into the scene when we unwittingly went to Marcucchio's!)
So...'cum grano salis'
re: Food For Id
I admit that I don't have that much experience with the North End, but I was taken to Trattoria il Panino on Parmenter St. recently and I loved the bresola and zucchini flower appetizers, which I thought were quite unique and well done. The rest of the meal was fine --- well cooked pasta but nothing spectacular. I loved Sage when it was in the North End, although my one meal in the new location in the South End was a disappointment.
Maybe I haven't explored the North End enough, but my best Italian meals in Boston have come at Carlo's Cucina Italiana in Allston, Abbondanza in Everett, and Il Capriccio in Waltham.
I live in the North End and have been to a number of the places mentioned on the board. That said, I recently ate at Lucca on Hanover and it has now taken over as my favorite place in the North End. The Wild Boar was AMAZING!!
If you're in the mood for Italian style seafood I also highly recommend Mare.