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North End Dining-Suggestions?

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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. 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

      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

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

        1. re: maillard

          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

            Fish and plastic bag equals fusion cuisine

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

          2. re: maillard

            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

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

          4. 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. 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. I absolutely love Taranta!

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

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pesto

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

                      2. 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. 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

                            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

                              add limoncello to that, and also the cantina.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Oh My! The Cantina has been awful forever!

                                Has anyone been to Massimo's lately?

                              2. re: MC Slim JB

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

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

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

                                1. 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

                                    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: limster

                                        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

                                        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

                                    1. 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. 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. 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

                                            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. 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).