North End Italian: have I done my homework?
Long time Dallas CH, one night only, North End Italian, casual dress, Tuesday night, price not a factor but I don't want to go through the beating of a high end resto meal, staying at the Bulfinch Hotel, Southern Italian
Piccolo Nido (not many reviews)
Antico Forno (small dining area)
Thoughts? Every time I think I've found the place, I find another place. This has been my progression: Piccolo Nido -> Massimino's -> Antico Forno -> Pagliuca's
I want to report back on our dining experience.
We chose Terramia and our experienced was mixed. The food and wine was excellent: crab appetizer, grilled calamari salad, stuffed chicked, pasta with clams but the table was awful.
Here's is what I think happened. I booked the table through the restaurant's web site for 7:30 PM on a Tuesday night. I noticed the time choices were on the hour, 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM, 8:00 PM etc. When we got there, all of the tables were taken except for a two top that was literally wedged next to the wait station and wine rack in the back. I just groaned. This is one of my pet restaurant peeves: bad tables. I can't help but think that this is not a regular table as the back of my chair was constantly getting jostled by waiters going back and forth from the kitchen but alas, I could do nothing.
I would certainly go back again, the food was that good, but I would insist on sitting at a better table.
Haven't been to Piccolo Nido yet, but as far as the others, I'd like them all about the same (and would definitely consider any of them).
I assume you're looking for casual places. If so, I think I would put a few others at the same level, including Cibo, Monica's, Rabia's, and Ricardo's.
My two recs (and I'm a longtime North Ender) would be Terramia or Taranta.
I also love Mamma Maria, but according to your comment, you don't want "the beating of a high end restaurant meal." Mamma Maria can occasionally provide that beating. :)
Do a site search and check out Terramia and Taranta. I think you'd absolutely love either one.
BTW, while I really like Antico Forno, it really is more of an everyday, casual kind of place. With just one night in the NE, go with one of the two I mentioned above.
The others on your list? Eh. Not so much.
Not a fan of either Piccolo Nido or Pagliucas. Antico Forno does a great job with chicken parm and pizza but they can also can offer more creative specials. I had butternut squash raviolis there last fall and I talked about them for weeks. Massimino's is a good pick, but for some reason I find Antico Forno more comfortable. I would also suggest Il Paninos, especially for their lasagna of the day. My favorite was the lasagna with bechamel sauce; potato; shrimp and corn --- absolutely delicious!
I'd actually put them almost in reverse order, with best listed first:
The first two are nearly on a par with each other -- tough to go wrong at either. Massimino's is actually very good, if maybe not quite in this league. Piccolo Nido was only average at best when I tried it, and their opening times can be very erratic.
Other Southern Italian spots to consider, at or slightly above this price range for dinner, would be Maurizio's or (if you stick with basics) Saraceno's; if you want Southern Italian seafood spots, Giacomo's or Daily Catch could also figure in.
Much as I like Mamma Maria, both it and Prezza, another great North End place, will be decidedly more expensive and are Northern Italian places.