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North End Dining-Suggestions?

pesto Feb 24, 2007 10:45 AM

My sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from out of town in March and she expressed an interest in trying a North End Restaurant. Any suggestions? Any restaurants where we would not have to wait too long or could make reservations. We know our Italian food and prefer non-red sauce places. Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. NiKoLe1625 RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 11:29 AM

    You can't go wrong anywhere in the North End. All the restaurants are excellent and pretty much all of them take reservations. A couple of my favorites are:

    Antico Forno (Salem Street): very casual, authentic place. Best linguine with clams that i have had outside Italy. Its small, so i would recommend reservations. The wait can get kind of hairy at certain times.

    Taranta (Hanover Street): This restaurant is a fusion of Italian and Peruvian. It is really excellent. A little bit more dressy, but you could go in jeans! A friend and I tried it on a whim one day and absolutely loved it! We didn't have a reservation and sat without a wait. They do take them however!

    6 Replies
    1. re: NiKoLe1625
      maillard RE: NiKoLe1625 Feb 24, 2007 11:36 AM

      I think that actually you can go very wrong with Piccolo Venezia on Hanover Street. It was the worst Italian food I've ever had in my life. I will never again just randomly pick a place in the North End to go to!

      Antico Forno is very good, though. And Maria's cannolis are my favorite.

      1. re: maillard
        Rubee RE: maillard Feb 24, 2007 11:51 AM

        I agree, I would never suggest picking randomly in the North End. Though I do second Nikole's recommendation for Taranta!

        1. re: maillard
          fenian RE: maillard Feb 27, 2007 05:31 AM

          i have walked out on a meal in only one place in boston: piccolo venezia. the fish appetizer had pieces of plastic bag in it and was icy in places and lukewarm in others. not the best job defrosting. the bread was like merita.

          1. re: fenian
            Bostonbob3 RE: fenian Feb 27, 2007 05:43 AM

            Fish and plastic bag equals fusion cuisine

            Jeez, who doesn't know that? :))

          2. re: maillard
            ChefJune RE: maillard Feb 27, 2007 09:54 AM

            You can go very wrong with more than just Piccola Venezia, altho I think that has to be the absolute worst (Add La Famiglia Georgio to "awful" list, as well). There are a lot of "red sauce" places, as well, which is clearly not what the questioner is looking for. Pomodoro, Terramia, Mama Maria, Davide are all delicious places in my experience, that have a whole lot more than red sauce. and then there's my favorite, The Daily Catch for Lobster Fra Diavolo! YUM!

          3. re: NiKoLe1625
            Gabatta RE: NiKoLe1625 Feb 24, 2007 12:18 PM

            Third the reccomendation on Taratta, however I feel that you can go wrong (way) more often than not in the North End.

          4. lissy RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 12:20 PM

            I too think there are many sub-par places in the North End and many of them that do not take reservations. Another really good North End restaurant is Prezza. They have a great bar, take reservations and have a wonderful menu.

            1. NiKoLe1625 RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 12:54 PM

              i guess i have just had a lot of luck with randomly picking places to eat in the North End! Another good restaurant that I just thought of is Mamma Maria. Its much more upscale, but the food is excellent!

              1. saridt RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 02:24 PM

                I absolutely love Taranta!

                1. limster RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 02:34 PM

                  Maurizio's - very solid cooking, centred around a few Sardinian dishes on the menu. Saw a sign that they are offering a $50 5 course tasting menu on thursdays -- anyone tried?

                  Also suggest La Brace, if grilled meats are on the agenda. Prices have crept up a little since they open, but still a relative bargain.

                  1. Gio RE: pesto Feb 24, 2007 05:19 PM

                    Our family likes Artu on Prince Street both for the food and the service. Here's the link:

                    1. p
                      pesto RE: pesto Feb 26, 2007 12:17 PM

                      Thanks to all who have given me suggestions! Will check some of these places out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pesto
                        Cheffrank RE: pesto Feb 26, 2007 01:00 PM

                        We really like Fiore, particularly in the warmer months when they open their roofdeck

                      2. b
                        Bostonbob3 RE: pesto Feb 27, 2007 05:22 AM

                        Advice from a Northender:

                        For upscale: Mamma Maria
                        For casual: Antico Forno
                        For in between: Terrramia
                        For fusion: Taranta
                        For grilled meats: La Brace or Eclano
                        For somewhat upscale family-style: Marco
                        For seafood (casual): Daily Catch
                        Avoid at all costs: La Famiglia

                        1. seefood RE: pesto Feb 27, 2007 07:12 AM

                          I'm imagining that sometime in the future someone is searching this board for North End recs and reading that you can't go wrong anywhere in the North End, and so I think it would be good to caution that searcher that, notwithstanding one poster's extraordinary good luck, you certainly can. While there are some very good restaurants, the neighborhood also is home to some pretty sketchy places. There are others that, while the food may be good, seem to have developed an attitude, I suppose due to the huge numbers of tourists that provide a never-ending supply of butts for seats no matter how badly they get treated.

                          An example: among the very worst restaurant experiences I've ever had was at Pomodoro on Hanover.

                          There are old-school red-sauce places in the North End that will not put anything very interesting on your plate, and some will serve you such bland food, food that is not hot (or cold, or fresh, or seasoned, or whatever) enough that you might as well stay home and open a jar of Ragu.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: seefood
                            MC Slim JB RE: seefood Feb 27, 2007 07:28 AM

                            Yeah, not to pile on, but it's practically a truism on this board (certainly my own opinion, repeated many times here and elsewhere) that over 80% of the North End's restaurants are not worthy.

                            I can think of ten or so, mostly well-covered here, that merit a visit. And last year's great experience is no guarantee: I've revised my opinions of some former favorites downward, including Lucca and Bricco, mostly because of chef changes and/or upward-creeping prices that have pushed past my definition of value.

                            A few I deem such genuinely awful tourist traps that I'll repeat my warning to stay far away, notably Strega, Fiore (despite the lovely roof deck), and Dolce Vita.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              hotoynoodle RE: MC Slim JB Feb 27, 2007 09:23 AM

                              add limoncello to that, and also the cantina.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle
                                ChefJune RE: hotoynoodle Feb 27, 2007 09:57 AM

                                Oh My! The Cantina has been awful forever!

                                Has anyone been to Massimo's lately?

                              2. re: MC Slim JB
                                Bostonbob3 RE: MC Slim JB Feb 27, 2007 09:46 AM

                                Oh, God, yeah. Add Strega to my "avoid at all costs" list.

                            2. a
                              annkof RE: pesto Feb 27, 2007 12:28 PM

                              I still really like Lucca. The service is so-so, but I find the food very good and like the atmosphere!!

                              1. k
                                kmmemom RE: pesto Sep 13, 2007 08:19 PM

                                Massimo's is in Malden now. It is fantastic food and portions for the money.

                                1. f
                                  FoodArt RE: pesto Sep 13, 2007 08:57 PM

                                  Neptune Oysters on Salem Street is great, although I haven't been there since Dave left but I heard the new chef is pretty good. Taranta is fantastic Jose is a great chef and extremely talented. Luccas prices have crept up but the food is consistent considering how much business they do. Prezza is as other people have said also a great choice.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: FoodArt
                                    MC Slim JB RE: FoodArt Sep 13, 2007 09:35 PM

                                    Are you saying that David Nevins has left Neptune?! This has to have happened very recently: I thought I saw him in the kitchen just a few days ago.

                                    Who has replaced him? Do you have any idea where Nevins went? To me, this is really deflating news, kind of like hearing that the Sox just traded Mike Lowell away: I expected he'd move on to better things eventually, like his own place maybe, just not so soon.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                      limster RE: MC Slim JB Sep 13, 2007 09:41 PM

                                      Some details here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42859...

                                      1. re: limster
                                        MC Slim JB RE: limster Sep 13, 2007 09:48 PM

                                        Damn, I must have been in there for one of his very last days. Had I known, I would have ordered a few more things. Or maybe not: as it was, my friend and I overordered pretty drastically, some oysters plus three huge salads (squid, crab, sardine). The new guy has some big shoes to fill.

                                      2. re: MC Slim JB
                                        FoodArt RE: MC Slim JB Sep 13, 2007 09:44 PM

                                        he went back home to work and open his own place. Yea he left a few weeks ago. His replacement was a sous chef over at Olives

                                    2. w
                                      whats4dinner RE: pesto Sep 14, 2007 04:29 AM

                                      I lived in the North End for a year, and Giacomo's on Hanover Street is my favorite, hands down. Get a special -- they are special! Bustling atmosphere, very Boston-Italian staff, great food. Two words to the wise: they don't take reservations, and they only accept payment in cash.

                                      1. SeaSide Tomato RE: pesto Sep 14, 2007 08:22 AM

                                        Four of us had dreadful meals and rotten service at Ricardo's a few weeks ago. I mean dreadful.

                                        However, we've had great meals at Antico Forno, Tresca and Lucca (although I have not been very recently to Lucca--so sad to hear someone say they think they're slipping).

                                        1. muthatee RE: pesto Sep 22, 2007 03:12 PM

                                          Tried the Daily Catch today. Waited 10 minutes, waitress brushed us off and seated a table of 4 before us. Not worth the hassle, particularly while standing outside waiting while the chef takes a smoke break. Went over to L'Osteria Ristorante and got in right away. The lobster ravioli was delightful (excellent sauce) and the Paglia e Fieno was cooked perfectly (not lathered in cream sauce). Service was so-so, but got what we wanted after the shoddy experience at Daily Catch.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: muthatee
                                            luci RE: muthatee Sep 30, 2007 06:32 AM

                                            What would be great for a group of 10-15?? We can do 2 rounds of 10 or a small dining room. Loved Mama Maria and Antico Forno.

                                          2. t
                                            twitchology RE: pesto Jun 27, 2008 11:02 PM

                                            What's a good inexpensive to moderate place that has good non-pasta, non-pizza dishes? I'm going to be in the area for dinner tomorrow and hope to check out Boston Italian. I hope the above qualifications don't show disrespect for the cuisine. I'm not a big starch guy and plan to start my day with a pastry and lunch at Regina, so I figure some variation would be good. Thanks!

                                            (Oh yeah, I love fish but am allergic to shellfish).

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