Dining with the Locals at Ricardo's, North End
We went to Ricardo's on North Street in the North End on Saturday night (thanks for mentioning this place, MC Slim, and thanks to everyone else for giving me some ideas for casual Italian in the North End that I haven't been to yet).
The place was pretty quiet for most of the evening, perhaps because it isn't on Hanover or Salem Street, and it's just far enough down from North Square so that people don't know about it. A shame, because the meal we had there was fabulous, with some of the best mussels you'll find in the North End (they came in a tremendous tomato-based sauce) and a meat lasagna that was a big step above your basic Southern Italian lasagna dish, as the pasta was fresh, the meat was high quality, and the "gravy" was homemade and wonderful. I also tried the soup of the day, which was a lentil/green pea soup, and it was very good, too.
Wines were mostly good; the basic Pinot Prigio was too mild, but the Cabernet Sauvignon Trinchero was amazing, with hints of plum, other fruits, and herbs, and the Insolia Cusumano was nearly as good, with a vibrant apple-peach flavor.
The atmosphere at Ricardo's was pretty nice, with lots of elbow room, dark colors, giving it a cozy feel, and carpeting that helped keep the noise level down. It is definitely a good place to take a family or large group, and it seemed like many of the people there were North End locals.
Personally, I think I still like Rabia's a little better, and the Chicken Creation at Mother Anna's might still be my favorite of all the meals in the North End (not counting pizza at Regina's), but I'll definitely be going back to Ricardo's in the near future.
We had a terrible experience. And looking at reviews over various sites the experience seems to be hit and miss; and miserable for larger groups. The food was decent, but the service went from aggressive hustle to abusive. The manager made some of our party very uncomfortable – not great for a party of middleage professional women. When one complained about the service his response was “we are an established restaurant, we don’t need your business”. I haven’t seen that approach to customer service before. Maybe a small party that doesn’t wish to stay long and in a mixed gender group (there are some disaster reviews of female groups on Valentines which I can now understand having experienced it) might be OK.
175 North Street, Boston, MA 02113
Prices are pretty good, though some of the wines and apps are a bit on the pricey side for a place like this. Figure about $12-18 for pasta, and $16-25 for most other dishes.
I had heard about the place about a year ago when I was checking restaurants out for Valentine's Day, but it slipped my mind until a few days ago when MC Slim mentioned it.