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Good nad cheap Italian (T accessible)

My mother is in town for a long weekend, and she likes to eat Italian food, but is rather frugal (i.e., if all the entrees are over $20 she will freak out.) She likes Maggiano's, but since they have those back home, I would prefer to take her to a local restaurant that's T accessible, ideally one with homemade pasta. Any ideas on where to go that serves a good linguine with clams (her favorite) and gnocchi (my fav)?

All suggestions are are appreciated!

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  1. I really like the pasta dishes with seafood at Giacomo's. The prices there are reasonable, the portions quite big and the South End location takes reservations!

    2 Replies
    1. re: lissy

      Hmm. Really? Are you sure the s/e Giacomo's takes reservations? I didn't think they did, at least not for smaller parties, which is why there is almost always a wait.

      1. re: twentyoystahs

        Yes, I have always been able to make a reservation at the South End Giacomo's. That doesn't mean that they always seat you on time, but it is better than waiting without a reservation.

        Citysearch also says they take reservations.


    2. Antico Forno on Salem St. in the Northend has a wide variety of reasonably priced items, including the 2 items you mentioned. http://www.anticofornoboston.com/

      1. How about Trattoria Il Panino just off Hanover Street? I know they're not the best in the N. End, but I happen to be addicted to their gnocchi. They have an extensive menu of dishes with pasta, including the required linguine with clams.

        There are a couple of items over $20, but nearly everything else is below. Quality is generally very good, and the portions are possible to be eaten by one person. If the gargantuan Maggiano's-sized portions are a requirement then it won't work.

        For someone visiting, the history aspect is also a bonus (they bill themselves as the first trattoria in the U.S.).

        1. Trattoria Toscana is a 10-minute walk from the Kenmore T stop, practically next to a #55 bus stop. Best Italian bang for the buck in town, in my book.

          1. Well, L'Osteria in the north end is pretty cheap, or there's always Vinny's at Night in east somerville near Sullivan Station.

            1. L'Osteria, Antico Forno, and Il Panino are all excellent, as is Vinny's. Actually, nearly all the suggestions here are good. I'd personally go with either Antico Forno or Il Panino, though (love the pizza at Antico Forno).

              1 Reply
              1. re: hiddenboston

                Is L'Osteria really any good? I've always avoided it, as I've probably said before, out of sheer disdain for the fact that it's named "L'Osteria Ristorante" (which would be like naming a place "Brasserie Bistro"; they're two different entities). What's good there?

              2. Carlos! The food there is great. Some of their pastas are homemade and the most expensive thing on the menu is probably only 20$. WHile it is not right on the T it is about a five minute walk.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lmuller

                  I've been to Carlo's recently and they have gone downhill. I wouldn't go back. One person in the party had home made pasta w/ sausage & broccolli, which was the best on the table. But everything else was so so.

                  1. re: lmuller

                    I agree with Carlo's. T accessible and away from the craziness of the North End (but that might be fun for someoe out of town in the first place). I really love everything on the menu there.

                  2. I'll just add The Daily Catch in the North End to the nice list in this discussion.

                    1. Add Rabia's to your list for delicious, inexpensive food. However it's more Mediterainian than Italian. Cantina Italiana is noted for its home-made pasta and reasonable prices. Saraceno is another good one, in my experience.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lorpa

                        I've never heard of Rabia's. Please tell us more about it. And where is it?

                        1. re: BBHound

                          I like Rabia's, too. It's on Salem Street, fairly close to Cross Street. The food is quite good and reasonably priced. It's yet another reason why I currently prefer Salem Street over Hanover restaurant-wise.

                          Here's Rabia's website:


                      2. Rabia's is fantastic. The wild mushroom ravioli and the lobster ravioli are both worth getting there.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          MMM, reading about homemade lobster ravioli and spinach gnocchi makes me wish I were going to Rabia's tonight. Looking at the websites, I think I'll ask her whether she wants to go to Rabia or Antico Forno. Whichever one we don't go to, I'll visit with friends and report back. Can't wait!

                          1. re: windycity

                            Can't go wrong with either; I'd say Antico Forno for a bit more of a casual night, and Rabia's for a slightly more upscale experience.

                        2. It is with much sadness that I write that my visit to Antico Forno was highly underwhelming. My mother's linguine with clams was not bad, if overly salty. But I have made better clams with liguine. And the portion was very small (yes, I have the stereotypical masochistic foodie complaint - it was so-so and there was so little of it!) I had the gnocchi with tomato sauce and cheese.

                          I have never had gnocchi so bland and boring. (Maybe this has to do with them sticking the pasta in an oven to broil the cheese?) I ate a few bites, and then had it wrapped to go. It sits still in my fridge, unloved and uneaten.

                          The worst part of the evening is that my mother said that she would rather have gone to Maggiano's for better food and larger portions and I agreed.

                          I hope to visit Rabia's soon - I need a redeeming authentic Italian experience!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: windycity

                            Wow. To prefer Maggiano's to Antico Forno means, IMO, you were really there on a rare off- night. If you're ever willing to give it another shot, you might be pleasantly surprised.