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Favorite Little-Known Italian Restaurant Outside of Boston Proper?

hiddenboston Sep 18, 2007 09:29 AM

I definitely have a few, including Abbondanza in Everett, Pellino's in Marblehead, and Pasta Lina's in Medford, but I'd love to hear about a few more. Has anyone tried Fiorella's in Newton? Sweet Basil in Needham? Angelo's in Stoneham? Any other favorites out there?

  1. o
    olives Sep 18, 2007 09:37 AM

    Sweet Basil is great for rustic country Italian (big flavors). The space is TINY, only a few tables and a counter, so don't go there if you are on a tight-time frame or if you don't want to walk out of there with eau du garlic permeating your clothes.

    7 Replies
    1. re: olives
      RichardA Sep 18, 2007 09:47 AM

      Georgie D's Place in Stoneham is relatively new, and has excellent Italian. I also like Venetian Moon in Reading (awesome chicken marsala) and Ristorante Serena in Malden.

      1. re: RichardA
        hiddenboston Sep 18, 2007 09:53 AM

        Is that an old menu up on the Ristorante Serena Web site? $6.50 for tortellini pesto is pretty reasonable!

        PS Don't listen to me, I was looking at their lunch menu. Doh! Anyways, here is their Web site:


        1. re: RichardA
          macca Sep 18, 2007 10:09 AM

          I like Georgie D's, too. I have a GC to Venetian Moon- will have to get there soon. Have never heard of Ristorante Serena. Will have to see if they have an on line menu. Am going out for dinner this evening- not sure what kind of food we will decide upon- I was leaning towards either Fuloon or All Seasons Table, but one in the party is pretty picky, so we may be better off with Italian.

          1. re: RichardA
            macca Sep 18, 2007 10:11 AM

            Found the menu for Ristorante Serena- did not realie it was in Maplewood Square. Lots of seafood offerings. Sounds promising. Thanks for the tip.

            1. re: RichardA
              taxi Sep 18, 2007 03:26 PM

              Is Ristorante Serena new? I just drove by there last week.

              1. re: taxi
                RichardA Sep 18, 2007 05:36 PM

                It opened around the start of 2007.

            2. re: olives
              mud Sep 18, 2007 12:56 PM

              Sweet Basil has expanded and the space is not nearly so tiny now. It is still difficult to get a table though.

              oops, this was supposed to go under the Sweet Basil post.

            3. Infomaniac Sep 18, 2007 10:35 AM

              One of my favorite Italian places outside of Boston proper is La Vita Mia in Saugus. I'm sure a lot of people know about it, but it doesn't get mentioned here to often.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Infomaniac
                Gio Sep 18, 2007 11:41 AM

                LVM is our favorite too. And, I love that they have a take out menu too.

                Molise in Wakefield *used* to be on our favorite list until the night when, as the next in line to be seated, 4 people pushed ahead of us and told the hostess they had a reservation. The policy at the time was No Reservations. We had been there for 45 minutes.....we didn't stay.

              2. f
                fbf242 Sep 18, 2007 10:43 AM

                Fiorella's is pretty good, but I prefer Francesca's, also in Newton (Adam's St, in Nonantum). The dining room is tiny, but with nice atmosphere. The pizza is very good, as are the pasta dishes.

                3 Replies
                1. re: fbf242
                  hiddenboston Sep 18, 2007 11:26 AM

                  What are the hours for Francesca's? I can't seem to find anything online about it.

                  1. re: hiddenboston
                    fbf242 Sep 18, 2007 11:32 AM

                    I don't know, but it is possible that there are some days that it is closed, as I seem to recall a few times that we have tried unsuccessfully to go or order food (my family has been ordering pizza from them for 20ish years). I think they are only open for dinner.

                    1. re: fbf242
                      RDR Sep 26, 2007 01:17 PM

                      also, the last time I was there--a few months ago--they had gone to cash only. However, their traditional red sauce dishes are authentic and delicious.

                2. m
                  mwk Sep 18, 2007 10:59 AM

                  Right now, my two Italian favorites outside of Boston are Gennaros in Quincy, and the Venetian in Weymouth. Gennaro's has excellent quality, reasonable prices and large portions. The food tastes homemade, and has some punch to it. You can smell the garlic in the air when you walk through the front door.

                  The Venetian is also very good, especially the pork chop and vinegar peppers dish, which I will go back for every time.

                  1. p
                    Pegmeister Sep 18, 2007 11:57 AM

                    Not sure how little known, or even if I would classify it as Italian since the menu has many other choices, but I really like the Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale. Thin crust pizza and some of the best veal dishes around. AIthough I do think it's strange that if you want to eat at the bar, the wait staff from the dining room takes your order and you pay separately for your food and drink. Always liked Vin & Eddies in Abington as well and no one ever seems to post about that place.

                    1. heathermb Sep 18, 2007 12:48 PM

                      Vinny's at Night in East Somerville...not so little-known though. Definitely my favorite!

                      1. MC Slim JB Sep 18, 2007 01:14 PM

                        Not so obscure, maybe: Delfino in Rozzie, Grapevine in Salem, La Campania in Waltham, Saporito's in Hull, Carmen's Kitchen in Eastie.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          hiddenboston Sep 19, 2007 06:09 AM

                          MC, what is the atmosphere like at Carmen's Kitchen? Is it nice inside?

                          1. re: hiddenboston
                            MC Slim JB Sep 19, 2007 10:01 AM

                            The look is sort of half pizza parlor, half nice/casual sit-down restaurant, a lot of stone work inside. One of the owners is a fairly, um, well-known North End figure (he also owns Fresh Cheese); he's often there with his posse in the corner. Very friendly place. Awesome oversized meatballs, lots of simple, classic dishes like broccoli rabe with sausage and a ton of garlic, and linguine with EVOO, anchovies, and more garlic. Sound kind of Sicilian-American? I think it is. Big portions, low prices.

                        2. trufflehound Sep 18, 2007 02:31 PM

                          Chiming in for Metrowest, The Parlor in Upton. A 'suburban' version of the Franklin. Stones Public House chef left last month so I can't say yet.

                          1. t
                            taxi Sep 18, 2007 03:03 PM

                            The Pasta Market in Malden. The best.
                            Also, for dessert - authentic homemade Italian gelato go to Lil N Chicks in Saugus along with expresso and cappucino.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: taxi
                              RichardA Sep 18, 2007 03:20 PM

                              Forgot to mention the North End Cafe in Saugus, on Rt1 North. Casual, reasonable priced and very good food.

                              1. re: RichardA
                                taxi Sep 18, 2007 05:30 PM

                                Thanks for the remind. Been meaning to try that place.

                                1. re: RichardA
                                  Gio Sep 18, 2007 05:42 PM

                                  Apparently they no longer have the restaurant and are concentrating on the catering biz.

                                  1. re: Gio
                                    ipsofatso Sep 18, 2007 06:10 PM

                                    Chianti in Beverly

                                    1. re: ipsofatso
                                      Rubee Sep 21, 2007 06:05 PM

                                      I haven't been in a while, but I was going to say Chianti. The nicest people own it too, and love what they do.

                                    2. re: Gio
                                      RichardA Sep 18, 2007 06:28 PM

                                      Thanks Gio for the update. It must have been fairly recent.

                                      1. re: RichardA
                                        Gio Sep 18, 2007 06:37 PM

                                        So sorry to be the bearer of bad news. : (
                                        I was hoping it would be yet another wonderful place to go.

                                        1. re: Gio
                                          mcel215 Sep 19, 2007 03:06 AM

                                          Angelo's in Stoneham (rt. 28), is my favorite Italian now.

                                          The cheaper pizza shop side, has very little atmosphere, but you can have excellent food for moderate prices.

                                          And they have an extensive menu!

                                      2. re: Gio
                                        Chris VR Sep 21, 2007 08:04 PM

                                        Nope, I was in that shopping center today and poked my head in to check on this. They are most definitely still open for restaurant business.

                                        1. re: Gio
                                          ohmuffin Sep 26, 2007 10:36 AM

                                          nope they still are a restaurant, my parents eat there almost every Friday... and i love the north end cafe

                                      3. re: taxi
                                        lulu806 Sep 19, 2007 06:28 AM

                                        We absolutely LOVE the Pasta Market in Malden - best eggplant parm I've ever had. Also love their angel hair amalfitana.

                                        Abbondanza in Everett is another favorite. They have great gnocchi.

                                        1. re: lulu806
                                          chachachow Nov 17, 2008 10:58 AM

                                          i have had 2 bad dinners from pasta market! i wouldnt reccommend it.

                                          1. re: chachachow
                                            lulu806 Nov 17, 2008 11:44 AM

                                            Perhaps we have different tastes then - I've eaten there on a regular basis since they opened (approx. 5 years ago) and never had a bad meal. I continue to highly recommend it.

                                      4. l
                                        looseygoosey Sep 19, 2007 11:56 AM

                                        Might be a little upscale compared to some others but my favorite is Bistro 5 in Medford. Love the squid ink pasta!

                                        1. k
                                          kt1969 Sep 19, 2007 02:22 PM

                                          Sweet Basil is yummy! Huge portions, great bread, a spaghetti bolognese [more like pappardelle, I think] that I dream about. Cash only. BYOB for I believe $5 corkage. There is pretty much always a wait, although now there is a bit of space to wait in, and sometimes they bring out little nibbles for those waiting. One option on a night you have to wait is to go down the street a little ways to Masala Art for a drink and they will call you on your cell when your table is ready.

                                          1. tatamagouche Sep 19, 2007 02:30 PM

                                            Assuming you don't consider Cambridge part of Boston proper, I'd vote for Trattoria Pulcinella. The couple times I was there I was quite impressed.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tatamagouche
                                              WineTravel Sep 19, 2007 07:45 PM

                                              La Campania in Waltham... always great.

                                            2. CocoDan Sep 20, 2007 05:59 AM

                                              I've always enjoyed Mezzo Mare at Nantasket/Hull, across from the Red Parrot. They do a good job with down home, rustic, southern Italian style recipes. Also has great pizza. Good reasonably priced wine list. Very casual. Real fresh fish! You won't go wrong here.

                                              1. s
                                                Scruffy The Cat Sep 20, 2007 06:49 AM

                                                I like Fiorellas in Newton a lot. I haven't been to Francescas or the other popular fav around the corner Vecchia Roma. But Fiorella's is more convenient in that it's open when I expect it to be (it seems like I'm always too late/wrong day for Francescas or VR). Their red sauce is very good and their veal parm excellent. Instead of bread on the table they give you baskets of pizza dough sprinkled with a garlic/herb/olive oil mixture and some piping hot marinara. Very yummy. I have found their salads to be eh, and sometimes their specials are a little too over the top with ingredients thrown in. But the simple things are quite good. Stick to red sauce items. People rave about their pizza but I think it needs a little more salt in their dough. The place is inexpensive, easily accessible (good parking, good hours), is very family-friendly, and has a patio for summer dining. It's not a destination place, but a solid neighborhood place that I'm happy to have around. Now that I think about it I really have to have that veal parm again soon, it's one of the best around.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Scruffy The Cat
                                                  Blumie Sep 20, 2007 07:37 AM

                                                  I think this is a good summary of Fiorella's. It's a nice place to have in the area, particularly when you're in a veal parm kinda mood, but not worth venturing out to.

                                                  1. re: Scruffy The Cat
                                                    Bob Dobalina Sep 26, 2007 10:03 AM

                                                    The thing about Fiorella's is the brick oven for the pizza, which sets it apart from other options in the area.

                                                    I am always surprised that brick oven pizza is not bigger in the Boston area. That cooking method always seemed to be the best, as least as memory serves. We love our Regina and Santarpio but they use regular ovens.

                                                    There was a place called Ippolito's River Restaurant in Derby, CT that had the best brick oven pizza, but it was demolished from a gas explosion in the late 80's-early 90's.

                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                      Rubee Sep 26, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                      Doesn't Pizzeria Regina still use their original brick oven from the 1920s?

                                                      Either way, now I'm hungry for pizza....

                                                      1. re: Rubee
                                                        Karl S Sep 28, 2007 10:12 AM

                                                        PR in the North End uses gas, not coal. But the site has been a baking place since the 1880s, so the natural yeast on premises are more complex, it seems.

                                                        1. re: Karl S
                                                          StriperGuy Oct 15, 2007 11:22 AM

                                                          Although what you said sounds compelling, any wild yeasts in the air are easily overwhelmed, flavor and effect-wise by any (necessary) commercial yeast added to the dough. Unless they really were using a wild biga for the dough:


                                                          Not just talking trash, I work with a bunch of microbiologists.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                                            hiddenboston Oct 15, 2007 11:50 AM

                                                            So where do microbiologists go for pizza? ;-b

                                                  2. a
                                                    alt11 Sep 20, 2007 08:58 AM

                                                    Vecchia Roma Ristorante on Watertown Street in the Nonantum section of Newton.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: alt11
                                                      phatchris Sep 20, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                      I really like Demainos in Revere. Very old-school Italian red sauce but damn good at it. Also pretty decent Pizza.

                                                      1. re: phatchris
                                                        Trixie Too Sep 26, 2007 08:15 PM

                                                        I agree with Demaino's. I love their veal bella-bocca.

                                                      2. re: alt11
                                                        bear Sep 20, 2007 04:49 PM

                                                        Vecchia Roma. Great prices, great portions, really soggy pasta. Tasty, though. Only been once, so I'm not well-versed.

                                                      3. s
                                                        ShelT54 Sep 20, 2007 04:38 PM

                                                        Norwood: Abbondonza II on Washington St. & Joe & Maria's on Rt. 1
                                                        Medfield: Basil's on Frairie St.
                                                        Newton: Fiorella's
                                                        Dedham: Brickhouse on Bridge St.
                                                        Framingham: La Cucina on Waverly St.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: ShelT54
                                                          Framinghound Sep 26, 2007 06:54 PM

                                                          Do you mean La Cantina on Waverly St in Framingham? I've went once and thought it was mediocre. Am I wrong? I've been looking for some good Italian in town, and have heard the woman at the Columbus Club cook up some good stuff on weekends.

                                                          1. re: Framinghound
                                                            hiddenboston Sep 26, 2007 07:26 PM

                                                            I had a pretty poor meal at La Cantina Italiana a couple of months ago. Maybe they were having a bad day, but I don't see myself giving it another shot.

                                                            1. re: Framinghound
                                                              galleygirl Sep 27, 2007 05:52 AM

                                                              Tell me about the Columbus Club...Do you have to be a member to get in?

                                                              1. re: Framinghound
                                                                merlescuz Oct 12, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                                La Cantina used to be a sweet family style restaurant with a bar downstairs. They've gone "upscale", which means redecorating and higher prices, but not better food IMHO.

                                                                We tried North End Treats on Rte 30 by Speen Street a few weeks ago. It's take out only, but man was it good! Brick oven pizza, prepared pasta dishes to go, and lots of tasty looking desserts

                                                            2. c
                                                              caspad Sep 21, 2007 12:16 PM

                                                              Portabello's in North Attleboro
                                                              Cafe Assisi in Wrentham
                                                              The Rome in Franklin

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: caspad
                                                                Bob MacAdoo Sep 21, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                                La Vita Mia in Saugus.
                                                                La Campania in Waltham.
                                                                Luciano's in Wrentham.

                                                              2. n
                                                                nobreadinthe breadbox Sep 21, 2007 02:47 PM

                                                                I like Maggios on Revere,Street in Revers especially their chicken and white wine sauce (comfort food) another good spot is on Route 1 North in Saugus called the North End Bistro. They have very large subs during the day and at night it is a restaurant with some interesting items on the menu, not your usual red sauce. Monte's on Eastern Avenue in Lynn has been spruced up. Old school north shore Italian food, lots of cheese on everything. Of the three I suggest the North End Bistro on Route 1.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: nobreadinthe breadbox
                                                                  taxi Sep 28, 2007 05:43 AM

                                                                  The North End Bistro's restaurant is closed. They only do catering now.

                                                                  1. re: taxi
                                                                    Chris VR Sep 28, 2007 07:45 AM

                                                                    Not sure where you're getting your info, but as I mentioned earlier, I went in there after I saw that posted here, and it doesn't seem to be correct. The server I talked to told me they are still operating as a restaurant. This is the North End Cafe in the plaza where Truly Jorg's and Our Glass is.

                                                                2. galleygirl Sep 21, 2007 03:16 PM

                                                                  Luigi's, in Sudbury...

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: galleygirl
                                                                    Bighead Sep 26, 2007 08:50 AM

                                                                    little known:

                                                                    Il Camino

                                                                    1. re: Bighead
                                                                      hiddenboston Sep 26, 2007 08:56 AM

                                                                      Il Camino? Never heard of the place. Where is it?

                                                                      1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                        Bighead Sep 26, 2007 09:05 AM


                                                                        1. re: Bighead
                                                                          StriperGuy Sep 26, 2007 05:45 PM

                                                                          As far as I understand it, the goal of chowhound is to SHARE good restaurants and food resources in Boston. When we share these Boston resources, the businesses succeed and then are around for the long haul.

                                                                          I can think of a dozen little hole in the wall gems barely getting by who are helped along by Chowhound alone. Keeping stuff secret really benefits noone.

                                                                        2. re: hiddenboston
                                                                          MC Slim JB Sep 26, 2007 09:15 AM

                                                                          It's a good thing more Chowhounds aren't bound by a loyalty oath to keep secret their favorite restaurants' locations. I suspect the one that Bighead is talking about is in Leominster (which makes it a rec for the New England board).

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                            Bighead Sep 26, 2007 10:08 AM

                                                                            that is the one MC slim

                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                              hiddenboston Sep 26, 2007 10:13 AM

                                                                              Thanks, MC. I was scratching my head wondering where the heck Omerta, Massachusetts was when your post came through.

                                                                      2. RiceRulz Nov 4, 2007 10:00 PM

                                                                        Where is the Luigi's in Sudbury? I know where the Luigi's in Wayland is. Hmmm...

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: RiceRulz
                                                                          galleygirl Nov 5, 2007 07:01 PM

                                                                          Oh yeah, Sudbury, Wayland; I just can't figure out where one ends and the other begins...You are thinking of the same place.

                                                                        2. w
                                                                          winedude Nov 5, 2007 06:35 AM

                                                                          Bon Caldo, or Rte 1 in Norwood, turns out excellent, higher-end Italian food. I was skeptical at first, since "Bon Caldo" isn't proper Italian (language), but it turns out it's the chef-owner's last name. More Northern-Italian style, but the food is very good, and the wine list (Wine Spectator Award-winner, so they say) has an amazing selection of Italian wines.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: winedude
                                                                            RiceRulz Sep 18, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                                            My favorite little known restaurant is the Bella Costa in Framingham. The owner is very friendly, their veal is incredibly tender. A friend of mine said the risotto was over cooked. But everything that I get there has been great.

                                                                          2. j
                                                                            joda Sep 20, 2008 04:36 AM

                                                                            We enjoy La Scalas in Randolph. Whenever we come up for a visit it is one of our stops.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: joda
                                                                              purpletequila Nov 16, 2008 09:03 PM

                                                                              I used to love LaScala's but it seems to be hit or miss these days.

                                                                            2. j
                                                                              jajjguy Sep 20, 2008 10:41 AM

                                                                              Fiorella in Belmont. Looks and feels like a local pizza and grinders joint but the food is really excellent.

                                                                              Also, though not exactly "little known", any list of Italian restaurants outside Boston must include Il Cappriccio in Waltham.

                                                                              1. t
                                                                                treb Sep 21, 2008 11:27 AM

                                                                                Angelo's is very good, also Ralphies in Salem NH and Ciao in Merrimac, MA

                                                                                1. l
                                                                                  lasershow Sep 22, 2008 01:36 PM

                                                                                  My all-time favorite is still Gaetanos, in Stoneham. I returned there time and time again for the past 13 years. The only thing I had which I didn't like was the chicken marsala (quite surprising). They used chunks of boiled ham instead of prosciutto (which is optional, I know, in a marsala recipe) and the taste was just flat. But considering the hundreds of meals I've had there and this was the only bad one, I consider that a pretty good record. Drinks are excellent and very generous!

                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                    musicman Oct 13, 2008 02:43 PM

                                                                                    If you're willing to go a bit further outside of Boston proper, Filho's Cucina in Groton is outstanding. The only dish I've had there that I didn't love was linguini with white clam sauce, but everything else is really, really tasty.

                                                                                    1. c
                                                                                      catsmeow Oct 18, 2008 01:04 PM

                                                                                      Capellinis on rte 38 in Chelmsford is a pretty good old school neighborhood. type place..

                                                                                      1. sox_foodie Nov 17, 2008 07:51 PM

                                                                                        It's a haul from most of you, but I can't believe that no one's mentioned Cafe Il Cipresso in Tyngsboro. It remains a redeeming factor in the heinous line of cookie cutter chain restaurants up and down the DW strip part of old Rt 3. It's in a strip mall behind the Firehouse restaurant and no more than 2 minutes from Academy of Nortre Dame.

                                                                                        They make their own pasta. You can definitely taste the difference. I've run into tourist trap places in the North End that fail in comparison to my favorite little gem in the distant north. Their meat sauce is classic and so meaty. Their prices are really reasonable, too.
                                                                                        They've changed owners in the last couple years, and I can taste the difference, but it's slight and still great. It's worth the trip.

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