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Rabia's, L'Osteria, Al Dente, or La Summa?

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Four of us are heading into the North End for Italian food on Saturday night. We are looking for:

--casual
--reasonable prices
--a place we can get into easily
--old-school red sauce dishes

I've been to all but La Summa, but haven't been to L'Osteria in awhile. Which of these four places might best suit us for Saturday night? Or is there another place on Salem Street or a side street we should look at? (We want to avoid the crowds on Hanover Street this time--hence, no Mather Anna's or Cibo.)

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    1. Out of that list, my favorite is La Summa. The food is excellent, and it's reasonably-priced. If you go, make sure to try one of the dishes with the homemade pastas, those are the best. The Papardelle Con Melanzane is especially good. Also, they take reservations, and not being on Hanover St. directly, means they tend to avoid the tourist hoards.

      1. Out of that list, I like Rabia's and L'Osteria the best. But there are lots of new places on Salem Street to try: La Galleria 33, Eclano, La Brace.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bostonbob3

          Bob, are La Galleria 33, Eclano, or La Brace good places for Southern Italian food, especially pasta? Are any of them reasonably priced? We're trying to do fairly low budget and casual that night. Thanks!

          1. re: hiddenboston

            All three are fairly pricey, and both La Brace and La Galleria 33 specialize in certain grilled meats. All three are a mix of Northern and Southern Italian, although I'd say Eclano is the most "Southern." But for fairly low budget and casual, I'd stay away from all three. Have you tried Marco yet?

            1. re: Bostonbob3

              No, I haven't been to Marco. Heard good things about it, though!

        2. 4 people on a Sat night is tough just about anywhere in the North End during peak dining hours. That being said, I think Summa is probably the best rec because they take reservations. I also really like Al Dente, I think it's often overlooked; nothing mind-blowing but good standards (including old school red sauce) and probably the least busy of all the other non-rez places you mentioned. I LOVE Al Forno, but personally I don't think it meets your requirements; it's small, so will be tough to get into on a Sat night, and it doesn't really have "old school red sauce dishes" b/c most everything is cooked in their amazing brick oven. And I think L'Osteria is a fine choice too, but since you haven't tried La Summa (and you can be guaranteed a table,) that's where i'd go if i were you.