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My lady friend and I are making out annual trek to Boston and we are looking for the very best knock your socks off Italian food. We prefer funky atmosphere to snooty atmosphere, and prefer to be within 1 mile of public transportation, but will consider driving in the 'burbs.Thanks!

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    1. re: gini

      Any region is fine, vegetarian options

      1. re: mr breadpuddin

        Trattoria Toscona. I cannot recommend this place enough.

    2. I guess I'd go with Sorellina, but Taranta has been "knocking my socks off" the last few times I've been there.



      1. Agreed that you can't go wrong with Sorellina. However, it is upscale and VERY expensive. I also really like Mamma Maria in the North End, which is also towards the upscale. If you are looking for red sauce homestyle Italian, the best of its kind is probably Carlo's Cucina in Allston

        1. For funky and good, I'd say any of the following might be decent options:

          Vinny's at Night, East Somerville
          Caffe Italia, East Boston
          Pasta Lina's, Medford
          Giacomo's, South End (less crowded than the North End location)

          1. Trattoria Toscana on Jersey St. in the Fens area.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sal Monella

              I'll second the Taranta rec, went last week and it was awesome.

              1. re: Sal Monella

                Second Trattoria Toscana. I think this place is terrific and everyone I have sent there has been enthusiastic. It is, however,Tuscan cuisine, not red sauce Italian. Depends on what you want.

                1. re: BBHound

                  If we're talking about Tuscan cuisine, don't forget Tuscan Grill in Waltham - never had a bad meal there


              2. Now I havn't been there since New Years, but I do live in the North End and I found Bacco to be the best overall package. Great food (best chicken marsala I've had in a long time) excellent prices and and good service (the servers wear electric blue shirts). Also now that its nicer out (keep your fingers crossed this is New England) they have two stories of open window seating!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Boston Scene

                  Bacco has a full bar, I will give you that, but the food isn't a knock your socks off experience.

                2. Canestaro's in Fenway
                  Norwood: Joe & Maria's; Abbondonza II
                  Medfield: Basil's on Frairy St.
                  North End: Euno (Salem St.), Prezza
                  Newton: Fiorella's
                  Waltham: Il Capriccio [pricy]
                  Allston: Carlo's Cucina

                  1. Take the Commuter Rail right into Lowell and enjoy a fabulous meal at Ricardo's Cafe Trattoria - you won't be disappointed. http://www.ricardoscafetrattoria.com/

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lexpatti

                      lexpatti, what do they have on the menu at Ricardo's that is good? Their menu page is under construction...

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        The last time I went, I had their special. Probaby one of the best meals I've had in a long time. I'll copy and paste from my review back then - Started with PEI Mussels steamed in a cream base with - get this - crab meat - it was "OMG I want to lick this bowl" sooo good!!!! They ran out of bread last night (big dissappointment) because this sauce would have been excellent drenched in bread. I couldn't help myself, I used a spoon to drink up all that I could. I had the haddock special. It was stuffed with shrimp, spinach, proschutto, tomatoes over a beautiful cheesy rissotto - there were other flavors here - I'm not doing it justice. It was soooo outstanding, I'm thinking I may have been moaning through my meal. :-) Hubby got some very creative stuffed olives, very good! His rack of lamb was excellent with quite the medley of sides, pearl onions, raisins, eggplant - flavors were phenominal. My step-son and his girlfriend both got the filet mignon and were very pleased - cooked perfectly, with a nice side of herbed mashed and nice mix of yellow & green beans. We all split a deliscous tirimisu and an ice cream ball (can't remember what this was called, I wasn't there when it was ordered).

                        Here's my first review with other great dishes: I love this place and it's in my back yard and didn't know it was so great - we usually travel to Boston for great Italian. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34736...

                    2. Pastalina's in Medford/Malden (not sure which town, it's right near the line) - way better than average red sauce joint. They make the pasta by hand in the shop, and the cooks and waitstaff are a bunch of characters. Service is a little slow, but if you're not in a rush, it's fun. Oh, and it's BYOB, but there's a liquor store across the street.

                      Grotto on Bowdoin St behind the State House - This place has a little more of the funky atmosphere. The food's fantastic, but very rich. Last time I went, there was a fabulous garlic soup, although that might be gone now that the weather is nicer, and I almost always order the ricotta cavatelle with pancetta and peas. There are tons of threads on this place on the board.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pamalamb

                        We love the Grotto too, never go wrong there. IN the north end we like Mamma Maria and Cantina Italiana on Hanover St.

                      2. I'm a big fan of Trattoria Toscana as well. The pasta is outstanding.....some people who go straight to the secondi w/no pasta may be disappointed as these are fairly straightforward (though still good and authentic by tuscan standards). The crostini are top shelf as well (liver or sausage in particular). Charming, small place, if that's what you're interested in.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: adams_jo

                          Brookline, Route 9, La Morra. Short walk from green line station street stop. A little pricey but the best I've had. Less pricey, tiny, Trattoria Toscana, don't go if you need to park especially on a red sox game night. Sage in its new home in the South End.

                          1. re: teezeetoo

                            I don't think of La Morra as that pricey, esp. since you can get 4 courses for $35.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              Years ago there was a place on Massachusetts Avenue just before you get into Arlington called Marino's. No one has mentioned it. Has it gone downhill? Or closed?

                              1. re: mardy

                                Yes, and yes. It went pretty far downhill before closing last year. I believe someone from Marino's is running Tartufo on Sherman Street in Cambridge, though I don't even know if they are still open. Actually, did they move to Newton?

                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                  There was just a review of Tartufo wasn't there? Saying it was so hidden and that's why it's so slow? I can't remember all the stuff I read.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    There was, in the Boston Globe and in the non-breaded calamari thread.

                        2. I absolutely love Sorellina. I'm a vegetarian and found them to be extremely accomodating. The service was fantastic and the space was really interesting/ funky. The food is delicious as well and they offer a lot of options. It is pricey, but well worth it.

                          1. I have to agree with three so far, Taranta, Sorellina, and La Morra. Taranta is non traditional italian so I always lean that way, but the food is outstanding. Sorellina is new and hard to get a reservation at, but worth it. La Morra is nice because it's somewhat out of the city and a nice small space, but the food is absolutely fantastic. I also just tried Prezza in the North End and loved it. Will be going back again..

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: firenze413

                              If you get to Sorellina early, it's great to eat at the bar. Prezza is consistently good. Another choice in Waltham is La Campania on Main Street. Unlikely location for such great food, but there you have it, right across from a Kentucky Fried Chicken. The seafood is always fresh, pastas are homemade. Wine list is extensive and somewhat expensive. You can actually eat at a table in the wine room. The atmosphere is just lovely too--very rustic Italian.

                              1. re: firenze413

                                La Morra is a definite thumbs up - but only for the pasta, which is some of the best I've ever had outside Italy. The meats, on the other hand - not so reliable. Not bad, and can be great, just not consistently on a par with the pasta.