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Saraceno, North End

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Peg Jun 9, 2006 05:03 PM

Friends of mine who frequently travel to Italy were in Boston recently and went to Saraceno on Hanover Street and loved the authentic food there. What have other chowhounds' experiences been with this restaurant? Thanks.

  1. m
    MC Slim JB Jun 10, 2006 12:50 AM

    I've walked by this place a few hundred times, and kept on going, thinking -- fairly or no -- that it looks like just another pandering North End red-sauce tourist trap.

    The scant posts I've seen here over several years are from folks I don't know well enough to trust or distrust. I'd love to learn more about it, but I have a few other "take one for the team" places on my list ahead of this one. If you have been here, Hounds, speak up!

    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      c
      chris Jun 10, 2006 08:42 AM

      A notch below Pagliuca,LoContes, and Antico Forno, more on the lines of Piccolo Venetia. If it wasn't on Hanover they would be empty every night.

      1. re: MC Slim JB
        c
        chelsea6161 Dec 27, 2008 07:35 PM

        The food is good, as well as the atmosphere. But there are a few servers that are very rude. There's plenty of restaurants on Hanover Street and in other areas of the North End with food just as good, if not better--and without the attitude.

      2. r
        Rubee Jun 12, 2006 12:05 PM

        It's been a couple of years, but I seem to remember that they did a good job on the simple dishes - a very good Carbonara stands out (tho not as good on one subsequent visit), and we also had good versions of the Italian-American classic Veal/Chicken Francese.

        1. b
          bachslunch Dec 27, 2008 09:19 PM

          I've been a couple of times and liked the food there a lot for Southern Italian classic basics. It's not as good as Maurizio's or Pagliuca's, but better than most of its kind. The service was fine and they didn't pull clip-joint tricks on me.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bachslunch
            u
            Uncle Yabai Dec 27, 2008 11:31 PM

            I don't know what a clip-joint trick is, but it sounded like something out of a 1940's noir potboiler.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai
              b
              bachslunch Dec 28, 2008 03:36 PM

              Those would be things such as sneaking extra unexplained charges or inflated prices on the bill, refusing to serve tap water when asked (especially when the place then hounds you to order a beverage), pouring bottled water when specifically asked for tap water (especially if they stonewall you when called on it), short-changing customers after they pay, giving dinner menus out at lunch time and saying they don't offer lunch menus when called on it. There are some less than reputable spots that pull stuff like this in the North End, though it's by no means universal in the area.

              1. re: bachslunch
                u
                Uncle Yabai Dec 28, 2008 08:59 PM

                Got it, I hate it when restaurants pull stunts like that. It tells me the regard they have for the customer.

          2. s
            stradacouple Dec 28, 2008 04:19 AM

            I try to avoid most restaurants in the N. End. Most are overpriced with average (at best) food. They do not rely on regulars for repeat business, but rather the "one hit" tourists in town. Sad to say, but true.

            Tratoria Toscana in the Fenway has excellent food and is my destination for well priced italian.

            5 Replies
            1. re: stradacouple
              b
              bachslunch Dec 28, 2008 03:56 PM

              Will agree that Trattoria Toscana is excellent.

              However, I've been to almost every spot in the North End (about a year ago, I could claim to have been to all of them) and I can't say I agree with this assessment of North End establishments. Of the 104 such places I had been to at the time, only 42 were in the fair-to-poor range. And only 8 of them had tried at least one clip-joint tactic on me.

              There are in fact a number of excellent and honest North End places that are as good as anywhere in the city. I'd without hesitation include Prezza, Mamma Maria, Pizzeria Regina, Neptune Oyster, and Galleria Umberto alone among them. And while places like Mamma Maria and Prezza are expensive, they're definitely not in the Clio/L'Espalier price league. And Galleria Umberto is arguably the best bargain in the city.

              It is important, though, to know which places in the North End are both excellent and honest, as you can have a terrible experience if you just blindly go in and pick a place at random. And that's where a place like Chowhound is valuable. See my aging but still useful research on the area here:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/448599

              1. re: bachslunch
                s
                stradacouple Dec 29, 2008 12:30 PM

                I agree that Neptune is excellent. Although I do not consider them in the italian category. Regina and Umberto are pizza/sandwich places....with Umberto being the better of the two. Mama Marie is very good, however I am not a fan of Prezza. Cudos to you for hitting 104 dining establishments. However, with 50 of the 104 or roughly 50% in the fair to poor range or less, those are not the best odds for hitting a winner.

                1. re: stradacouple
                  b
                  bachslunch Jan 8, 2009 01:33 PM

                  <grins> Well, stradacouple, I guess that's what makes us different. Is the glass half empty or half full? I think it's the latter -- 54 winners isn't too shabby. One just needs a little guidance to know which spots fall in the half-full category.

                  Also, I don't consider Neptune Oyster to be an Italian spot either, but it is a spot in the North End. Didn't see a qualifier in the above post, so I interpreted things literally.

                  1. re: bachslunch
                    s
                    stradacouple Jan 8, 2009 05:52 PM

                    Being a gambler is not in my DNA. (thus just head to Toscana) Living adjacent to the North End (on Causway Street) I would love nothing better than to have the North End chock full of great places. That has just not been my experience overall. Loved Bricco when Marisa Iocco was the chef and would eat there at least twice a week. She is at Il Panino now (although their food is more hit or miss). We have gone to Toscano on Charles Street twice in the past 6 weeks. The first time is was very good, the second time "not so much". If you have been, I 'd be interested in your perspective. My wife wants to go back,,,,,,I 'm not as convinced. Keep up the the good work and happy new year!

                    1. re: stradacouple
                      b
                      bachslunch Jan 8, 2009 07:10 PM

                      Have been to Ristorante Toscano on Charles Street. Had a good experience there, but haven't had a chance to return, and the feedback on this board on this place has varied a lot. My thought is that you can get a good meal there, but maybe not every time; for all of me, I was pleased and would go back.

                      Feel free to take a look at the North End research I alluded to above. To address your two spots above, found Bricco good but expensive (am thinking both Prezza and Mamma Maria are better value at this price point) and feel Trattoria Il Panino is just OK for food but deserves further demerits for refusing to serve tap water on request and then aggressively pushing patrons to purchase a beverage. No guarantees you'll like what I like, but I'm doing the best I can.

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