Terra Mia in the North End
I've been to this restaurant a couple of times and have enjoyed it a lot. The atmosphere is on the right side of casual, while the food is novel (to me) and very well made. The service is helpful and extremely professional.
I don't tend to eat at restaurants as expensive as this very often, but I will do it from time to time. I don't really know any other North End places. How does it rate, compared to other places doing a similar thing? Any recommendations for other restaurants in this "class"?
Also, what are good places for cheaper meals and perhaps more "typical" Italian-American food? As a foreigner it seems to me the market here is divided between "home-style" Italian food (big portions of pasta with a basic tomato sauce, chicken parm, etc.) and places like Terra Mia where the food is more refined and uses a wider range of ingredients. Most of the "proper" Italian restaurants I've eaten in in the UK (where I'm from) have been more like the style at TM, but not as good.
So, I like that kind of Italian food very much, but I'd also like to understand the "home-style" scene as well, if I'm not imagining it. Years ago I went to a restaurant on a cross street between Salem and Hanover Streets IIRC which had the stereotypical pictures-of-Sinatra-when-he-visited kind of thing and if I remember correctly served that kind of food. Seemed like fun. A non-chain Vinny T's would maybe be the kind of thing I mean.
You're right, though it's a fairly recent development, that the NE has a sort of split high-low personality these days. Terramia is very good; its counterparts include Taranta (which, note, has a fusiony Italian-Peruvian menu), Lucca and the slightly more expensive Carmen and Prezza. I know there are lots of fans of Mamma Maria as well--I'm not one of them, b/c I find it stuffy, but the food is good. Bricco & Mare used to be among this bunch; since the chef, very well liked on this board, left, I haven't heard much about how they're faring.
The old-school joints are hit-or-miss; some are genuine and genuinely terrific, some tourist traps. My faves include Daily Catch--just be warned, cash-only, no bathrooms, wine kept under the stove and served in juice glasses--and Galleria Umberto, which is lunch only. I also like Limoncello, Antico Forno and Maurizio's, both slightly higher-end but still homey/hearty. Euno is adorable and certainly passable. I very much dislike La Summa, but know some hounds disagree. Tons of others I pretty much walk by every day, receiving bad vibes that may be unfair.